According to an opinion piece in The Daily Beast, supporters of Donald Trump are in the process of setting up the infrastructure that will keep alive his brand of right-wing populism long after he leaves office whether willingly or not.
Writing for the Beast, conservative Matt Lewis said that one need not look any further than the late night Fox News show hosted by Tucker Carlson for the clues as to how Trumpism will survive after Trump shuffles off the stage.
In Lewis's view, Carlson's nightly appeal to nativist populism is an extension of Trump's brand of middle-American middle and lower-class demagoguery.
"Take, for example, Tucker Carlson’s much-discussed populist monologue on Fox News," Lewis writes. "In case you missed it, he attacked elites, saying: 'We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule. They’re day traders. Substitute teachers. They’re just passing through. They have no skin in this game, and it shows.'"
With Carlson adding, "A lot of Americans are drowning in stuff. And yet drug addiction and suicide are depopulating large parts of the country. Anyone who thinks the health of a nation can be summed up in GDP is an idiot," Lewis weighed in, "It did more than launch a thousand thinkpieces; it also raised sober questions about the cultural contradictions of capitalism and conservative free market dogma."
Lewis then made the leap to Henry Olsen, a Washington Post contributor -- and Trump fan -- who he believes will carry the Trumpism banner forward.
"Like Carlson and historian Victor Davis Hanson (and unlike the grifters who originally filled the market niche), Olsen’s working-class conservatism predates Trump’s rise," Lewis writes, noting the Olsen also writes for the "Trumpian" American Greatness website.
"American Greatness emerged to offer a gloss of highbrow intellectualism but in fact has more often mixed sophistry and lowbrow trolling," the conservative writes. "And it seems to be on the cusp of breaking through as, perhaps, the hot new outlet for Trump fans."
According to Lewis, American Greatness is just one of many outlets that will keep the Trump brand alive.
"Just as Trump faces the strongest headwinds of his presidency, individuals and institutions to sustain a Trumpian worldview finally seem to be emerging," Lewis explained. "In some cases, this infrastructure is overtaking and/or replacing conservative intellectuals who were critical of Trumpism. For example, Sebastian Gorka, the former deputy assistant to the president, just launched a nationally syndicated Salem Radio Network talk show, replacing the venerable Michael Medved, who was no fan of the president."
In Lewis's mind, Trumpism is more than a cult of personality and that it might succeed better without the president's baggage -- going so far as to tout Fox's Carlson as its new spokesperson.
"It could be argued that 'America First' right-wing populism, though espoused rather inarticulately by its current figurehead, is anchored in tradition," Lewis suggested. "These ideas, long dormant after World War II, have reemerged for a reason: Americans have a newfound yearning for them. Carlson and Olsen (among others) are tapping into this yearning."
"Two years into his administration, Trump’s infrastructure is finally being retroactively constructed beneath him," the Beast columnist concluded. "I don’t know whether it will be branded with the 'Trump' name. But I wouldn’t bet against populism any time soon."