Donald Trump ran on a series of impossible promises, but enough people believed he could deliver on them that he won the Electoral College. His supporters are in for what might be the rudest awakening in recent political history.
Immediately after the election, the candidate who ran against the establishment, the guy who promised to “drain the swamp,” immediately surrounded himself with party hacks and lobbyists. He announced that Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus, perhaps the most prominent face of the dreaded “establishment,” would be his chief of staff. Good-government advocates expect the Trump regime to gut what remains of our already tattered campaign-finance laws. Reuters reports that, “despite his professed opposition to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, President-elect Donald Trump is considering several of the major advocates of that war for top national security posts.” And as Politico’s Ben White put it, “a populist candidate who railed against shady financial interests on the campaign trail is now putting together an administration that looks like an investment banker’s dream.”
Trump’s not going to make coal cheaper than natural gas and bring back a bunch of mining jobs. He might be able to negotiate some new riders for NAFTA, but they’ll be guided by the same corporate lobbyists who effectively wrote it in the first place, and won’t do anything to bring back jobs that have been sent overseas. There will be no 35 percent tariff on imports from Mexico or China.
The exit polls show that Trump beat Clinton among affluent voters, and Americans up and down the economic ladder responded to his dog whistles, or at least voted for their party despite the bigotry displayed by its nominee. But Trump made huge gains over Mitt Romney among those making $30,000 or less, and benefited from a major urban-rural divide. And it’s the rural poor who put him over the top in key swing states who are going to be hit especially hard by the coming bait and switch.