On Thursday, writing for The Washington Post, columnist Greg Sargent outlined how the fraud charges against former Trump strategist Steve Bannon illustrate the broader fraudulence of Trump's political brand of "economic populism."
"The wall, of course, has long had a huge place in that tale.," wrote Sargent. "It was not just a symbol of Trump’s promise to wind back the demographic clock ... It also symbolized the broader story Trump was telling. In this tale, Trump would reverse the carnage that globalization had inflicted on the industrial heartland — and by extension would challenge the unchecked global capitalism that neoliberal elites, including the GOP establishment he ran against, were enriching themselves off of."
"Bannon was basically the Keeper of the Flame of Trumpism in 2016. But after Trump won, Bannon found his influence waning inside the administration as the Wall Street elites took charge and Trump sold out his 'economic populist' promises," wrote Sargent. "That led to an enormous corporate tax giveaway and an effort to repeal health coverage for 20 million."
Similar policy shifts have happened across the board, with Trump pledging to protect Social Security in 2016 but now running on defunding it.
Ultimately, wrote Sargent, "the point here is that Bannon never cared much about Trump’s populist nationalism beyond immigration, and neither did Trump. Yes, Bannon did obsesses over China, and Trump has continued down that path with his trade wars. But these impulses also have always been more about xenophobia than populist economics, and the result here has also been a major disaster."
Nothing better illustrates this, Sargent concluded, than the fact that "Bannon was reportedly taken into custody while hanging out on the yacht of a Chinese billionaire."
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