The Rise of National Populism and Democratic Socialism

This election cycle has seen trends that threatens conservatism. The first is National Populism which is blood and soil nationalism that undermines constitutional rule of law and the second is Democratic socialism where the Democratic portion of socialism often disappears. The Trump candidacy gives legitimacy to a National Populism that emphasize the sealing not just of our borders from immigration, legal or illegal but also goods from other nations as Autarky economic mindset is part of both Democratic Socialism and National Populism while deemphasizing free market economics that actually produces wealth.

Democratic socialism which is now the ideology of the Democratic Party also features an autarkic economic idealism and similar to National populism, government is the vehicle to right whatever injustices there are and control the economy's direction. The major difference is that national populism is more tolerant to corporations and free markets but National populists now view government as a vehicle to right whatever wrongs happening to their supporters. It will be easy to turn this into a Right versus Left, Republican versus Democrats but it goes beyond that as much of the National Populist movement has similarity to the Democratic Socialism when it comes to government intervention in the economy. The confusion about National Populism place on the ideology score is that many entering the National Populist movement comes from the conservative movement and the Trump election is nothing more than the National Populist movement hijacking the Republican Party. (You can say that both Democratic Socialism and National Populism bumper sticker would be “We will f*** those who are f****** you.”)

Donald Trump is not much of an ideologue when it comes to explaining his own ideas since as the 2016 campaign has shown, he has been known to change positions when it fits his needs, often within the same week, if not the same debate; but he does have one core belief that he is smart enough to manage a massive big government by using his business techniques and hiring the “best and brightest” to manage the modern leviathan located in Washington D.C. While he has espoused conservative ideas on taxes, gun rights, abortion and the budget, his career has shown him to be a man who is perfectly comfortable of using the system for his benefit and to fund the politicians who populate the modern day Leviathan. If there is one thing that is consistent throughout Trump’s career, it is a fact that he has never led a movement right or left to reform the system but simply co-opt edthe system when it got close enough to him.

Trump has been consistent on one issue, trade policy and protectionism. He is not just building a wall to keep out illegal immigrants but he is building a trade wall to keep out foreign goods. His attack on Wall Street and companies who move factories overseas are no different than what you hear from Bernie Sanders.

Look at Trump's own views just the past two decades. He has called for a tax on the wealthy, been pro-choice in a radical sense including late term abortions before declaring himself pro-life; supported gun restriction before becoming an advocate of gun rights, promised to appoint constitutional judges while praising his sister, who is a radical pro-abortionist. His views on immigration, his signature issue, has gone from open border and amnesty to close the border and kick them out, but also includes a back door approach to amnesty and more visas for high tech workers, blue collar workers and models or maybe not, depending upon the audience. There is no consistent program except that America is run by a bunch of losers and needs to win again led by a real winner, Donald Trump. The nation that mimics Trump’s economic theory in its autarky approach at its most extreme is North Korea. There are enough studies and survey to show the countries with the freest economy including controlling government spending and taxes, sensible regulations and liberal trade are the most prosperous and political free countries but in Donald Trump world’s as well as Bernie Sanders world, the American worker is being betrayed by those on the top of the political class. (The American workers do have legitimate complaint that their interest has not been well represented but Trump and Sanders solutions will make their situation worse.) Bernie Sanders “Democratic Socialism” is not much different in the end game as Trump’s National Populism in its endgame but there are enough difference between the two that both will be competing with each other for the next generation of voters.

Sanders emphasized on finding bogeymen like the Koch Brothers and foreigners who are taking our jobs is no different than what Trump has done. How many times has both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump railed against Wall Street, big donors and even the Koch Brothers? Every debate, they make it a point to rail against those donors as they both rail against Citizen United and Super PACS but anyone who actually read Citizen United will know that this case was not about campaign finance laws but the ability of a group to play a film demonstrating why Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be President, the conservative version of Michael Moore “Fahrenheit 9/11.” What we are seeing is the formation of two leftist parties fighting over the remains of the economy on behalf of their supporters at the expense of others in a zero-sum game. For many on the left, the Trump takeover of the Republican Party will be their dream, a political world in which the conservatives and libertarians are moved to the sideline as two leftist parties fight it out.

The average Trump voters are not racists and they draw from all views of the Republican Party from the very conservative to the more moderate and liberal Republicans. They are ready for leadership who take their concerns seriously and don't mock their values. We need to understand National Populism and Democratic Socialism while discussing what conservatives need to do in countering the rise of both political strains.


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