It's not that I've had loads to say about politics -- in an informed way -- over the last few days, since my news consumption largely has been via cable networks rather than print. Cable is not, as you know, the ideal delivery system of political news, what with its corporate penchant for inexpensive "controversy" over actual reporting, which costs money. At least I've been able to see the TV screen, whereas print has been something of a drug-induced blur -- my blurriness being somewhat superfluous, since the nursing interruptions have rendered any concentration an impossibility anyway.
Still, this morning I did manage to make my way through a Krugman and Dionne column, both of which protest against the application of "populism" to Trump. "People keep saying that Donald Trump is a populist. I do not think that word means what they think it means," writes Krugman. We know what it means to Trump, however: "So far," continues Krugman, "his economic policies are all about empowering ethically challenged businesses to cheat and exploit the little guy."
Adds Dionne on the matter of Trump-cum-populist: "Pretending that there is something 'brilliant' or 'populist' about how Trump communicates is one of the worst forms of elitism because it demeans ordinary citizens who have always appreciated eloquence."
I protest their protests of populism's usage. For the last 40 years, the party of "the little guy" has been Trump's party, who seems to like "economic policies [that] are all about empowering ethically challenged businesses to cheat and exploit" him. One can imagine millions of little guys having been a bit befuddled for 5 years or even 10, as they sorted things out and came to see that they were being screwed. But 40? The same trickle-down scam for four decades -- and the little guy remains loyal? Perhaps a core definition of populism is mere stupidity, and of course indefatigable gullibility.
As for Dionne's objection, the body politics's appreciation of eloquence is a historical fact. When the body politic can so breezily switch from a Barack Obama to a Donald Trump, however, than its appreciation of eloquence is also dismissable. This is what the Age of Reality TV has wrought.
Krugman and Dionne are, probably, only trying to rescue "populism" from being the sole terminological property of the right. In 2020, an Elizabeth Warren or Cory Booker will wish to claim the moniker too. I say let the right have it. Trump has forever despoiled it.