Donald Trump and the Long Tradition of American Populism

Updated | Most political observers readily agree that the soaring Donald Trump crusade has tapped into a restive populist mood but hardly anyone knows what populism is, or why on earth a megalomaniacal billionaire has emerged as its latest standard-bearer.

The Beltway definition of populism is disdainful. When it’s affixed to unexpected movements like the Trump insurgency, it seems to mean little more than a prolonged public tantrum. Looking back at recent pundit-diagnosed outbreaks of the populist bacillus, one sees it dubiously attached to causes as different as the drawling “Two Americas” stump speeches of John Edwards, and the America First culture-war candidacies of Pat Buchanan. Going further back, historians and pundits have spied populism everywhere from the racist shade of George Wallace and other stiff-necked Southern segregationists, to the red-baiting career of Joseph McCarthy, to the redistributionist reign of Huey Long in New Deal Louisiana. Still further back, populism has been detected in such 19th-century figures as its great Gilded Age avatar William Jennings Bryan and Andrew Jackson.

It’s tempting to dismiss populism as an epithet deployed by the power elite—a label that members of our political class slap on something popular that they also deem threatening. But there’s more to it than that. The populist movement of the late 19th century, for instance, was grounded in economic grievances, with leaders like Bryan seeking to unite the nation’s producing classes—farmers, small-town businessmen and urban workers—who thought they could overthrow the industrial age’s regime of market cartels, debt peonage and degraded wage labor.

But populism, during the farmers’ revolt of the 1890s, was also a cultural insurgency—a kind of self-administered political wake for the beleaguered middle American Protestant soul, newly adrift in an urbanized, capitalist nation of immigrant laborers and international bankers, and yearning for the folk egalitarianism of an idealized Jeffersonian republic. This is how populism has come to double as a synonym for modern cultural conservatism. Historian Richard Hofstadter famously branded the Gilded Age agrarian uprising as a precursor to McCarthyism: an outpouring of economic resentments that gave aggrieved farmers license to scapegoat any and all available elites—Jewish bankers, British titans of industry, American robber barons—for their declining cultural influence.

Trump is an unlikely populist because he subscribes to so few positions associated with the cultural side of conservative populist revolt. Before his plunge into the 2016 race, he hadn’t taken a hard-line stance against gay marriage and reproductive rights; and as a twice-divorced, one-time Manhattan playboy, he’s anything but a poster boy for family values. While all the Republican candidates denounce Obamacare, including Trump, and all have their own market-based alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, Trump is the most liberal sounding. On the pundit altar of Morning Joe he praised single-payer Canada as a system that works but said America needs a private health insurance. “You can’t have a guy that has no money, that’s sick, and he can’t go see a doctor, he can’t go see a hospital,” Trump recently told conservative radio talk show host John Fredericks. Trump added that even if his position costs him support in the GOP primaries, “you have to take care of poor people.”

And yet GOP primary voters have flocked to the early Trump boom. A recent CNN poll indicates that 53 percent of GOP voters feel their views aren’t represented well in Washington—virtually double the 27 percent of Democrats agreeing with that idea. (Never mind that the federal government that so rankles Republican voters is now overrun with Republican leaders—populists often lay into their ideology with the greatest enthusiasm.) Among those saying they want Trump to continue his primary run, CNN also found, are “those seen as the core of the GOP primary electorate: 58 percent of white evangelicals, 58 percent of conservatives and 57 percent of Tea Party supporters.”

Read the full report here.


The John Fredericks Show is Common Sense for the Commonwealth. It is the only morning political news-talk show focused on local issues that impact the daily lives of Virginia residents. The John Fredericks Show broadcasts live weekdays from 6-10am on WHKT AM 1650 – Hampton Roads, WNTW AM 820 – Richmond – Central Virginia
and WBZS 102.5 FM – Roanoke and the New River Valley

 

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Fredericks: Lift the Crude Oil Export Ban

What kind of world do we live in, where America’s leaders try to give Iran better international trading terms than we provide our own petroleum producers?

We are poised to lift economic sanctions and allow an enemy whose leaders chant “Death for America” to enrich its economy by exporting oil — it’s only valuable natural resource.

At the same time, we maintain a 40-year-old ban on exporting our own domestic crude oil, to the detriment of our oil industry and economy. This is backwards, and the irony would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

It is high time the United States ended a perverse and harmful manipulation of the free crude-oil market and lifted the outdated export ban on oil.

The president is using immense political capital to extend this very courtesy to an enemy like Iran. It makes no sense.

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The ban was enacted in 1975 as an attempt by Congress to “do something” about price spikes created by the OPEC oil embargoes.

In truth, the ban has done very little except bottleneck oil development in the past few years. Under the current law, domestic drillers have to sell their oil to domestic refineries, which are then free to sell their refined products all over the world. If the goal was to keep our oil here, we should ban selling refined products globally, but this would be calling the bluff, to the detriment of everyone.

By keeping our oil here, we’ve just guaranteed the refining industry discounted domestic crude oil.

The past decade’s shale revolution has led to a manufacturing resurgence and major growth in the American petroleum industry. However, the restriction on global trade has limited the oil industry’s ability to continue expanding, adding more jobs and making more investments in the American economy.

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The United States has a limited refinery capacity, and domestic producers can only sell their oil to domestic refineries. When domestic production starts to outpace refinery capacity, producers have to slow down — therefore eliminating jobs, cutting back on activity, or shutting down operations. This means limited growth and stunted job-creation.

Lifting the ban on crude oil exports would eliminate this harmful market manipulation. Domestic producers would no longer have an artificial production ceiling, enabling them to expand their business activity and job growth to match true global demand.

Counter-intuitively, lifting the ban on crude oil exports could reduce consumer fuel costs by up to $5.8 billion. Greater global supply of crude oil would reduce fuel prices because the domestic price of gasoline is set by the world market, and the higher the global supply, the lower the prices.

Lifting the outdated ban would also reduce the trade deficit, support the creation of hundreds of thousands of domestic jobs, and grow the American economy by billions of dollars.

Opponents may be worried about selling our oil to the world, but our capacity to locate and drill new oil reserves is increasing every day. We have far more known reserves than we did 10 years ago, let alone 40 years ago, when the ban was enacted.

Investment in domestic infrastructure now would mean our country would have a greater capacity to be energy independent during a global crisis or war.

Market manipulations and trade restrictions are counter to the American way of doing business. The current ban on exporting crude oil is hurting our economy and restricting our allies’ options if they want to get their oil from friendly exporters like the U.S.

Why should Iran get a better deal than us?

Let’s lift the ban and let our allies do business with us instead of our enemies.

Read the full report here.

Trump Makes Case for Presidency on Virginia Radio

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump railed against “incompetent” Washington leaders Thursday during an early morning interview on a Hampton Roads-based radio talk show.

The New York real estate magnate described the recent Iranian nuclear deal as a failure and argued that the U.S. government doesn’t know how to negotiate with “corrupt” Chinese leaders.

Trump, who claimed a personal net worth of more than $10 billion after filing federal campaign finance forms this week, said he’s running because he’s a better negotiator than anyone else in the race.

In this July 11, 2015, photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at FreedomFest in Las Vegas. In a state where early organization is key to a successful presidential campaign, Trump’s New Hampshire operation has the trappings of a legitimate political organization.  (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this July 11, 2015, photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at FreedomFest in Las Vegas. In a state where early organization is key to a successful presidential campaign, Trump’s New Hampshire operation has the trappings of a legitimate political organization. (AP Photo/John Locher)

“The concept… is that I’ve made a tremendous amount of money. I’ve beat China in deals,” Trump said during a 20-minute interview on “The John Fredericks Show” on WHKT-AM in Portsmouth. “You mention my name to them and they go hide under the table.

“We’re tired of leadership that doesn’t know anything about the deal. I think it’s time for the American people to have somebody who can make them rich again.”

Trump also took aim at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush who – like Trump – is at the top of a recent national poll of voters who intend to participate in the 2016 presidential primaries and caucuses.

“Bush can’t make deals with China…. You think Bush is going to make a deal with Japan – who’s ripping us off left and right?” he said. “They can’t. They don’t have the ability.”

The Obama administration’s deal with Iran, which is intended to stifle its ability to build nuclear weapons, is a horrible agreement, Trump said. The U.S. shouldn’t have begun talks until the Iranians agreed to release four Americans held captive, he said.

“I would have sanctioned them up the wazoo,” he said, boasting, “I would have had them crawling.”

Trump also said he’s not backing off his comments last month when he referred to some immigrants from Mexico as rapists and drug traffickers.

The comments, he said, were about Mexico’s leaders. “Mexico is a very corrupt government. It always has been,” he said.

During last month’s campaign kickoff speech, Trump told a boisterous crowd, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Read the full article from the Virginian-Pilot newspaper here.


 

The John Fredericks Show is Common Sense for the Commonwealth. It is the only morning political news-talk show focused on local issues that impact the daily lives of Virginia residents. The John Fredericks Show broadcasts live weekdays from 6-10am on WHKT AM 1650 – Hampton Roads, WNTW AM 820 – Richmond – Central Virginia
and WBZS 102.5 FM – Roanoke and the New River Valley

 

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Donald Trump: ‘I’m Actually a Conservative with a Heart’

Businessman Donald Trump on Thursday said the country has to provide health care for the poor and that he’s “actually a conservative with a heart” who can work out deals with hospitals to make it happen.

“I want people taken care of in the country, okay? You can call it anything you want, but I want — including people that don’t have anything,” Mr. Trump said on “The John Fredericks Show.” about “We gotta do that.”

In this June 29, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles for a photographer before he addresses members of the City Club of Chicago, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
In this June 29, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles for a photographer before he addresses members of the City Club of Chicago, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Mr. Fredericks, a Virginia-based radio host who has predicted that Mr. Trump will win the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, had asked Mr. Trump how to reconcile his statements critical of President Obama’s health care law with past statements in which Mr. Trump was warm to the notion of universal health care coverage.

“You know, I’m a very conservative guy … number one, the people that can do it, we’re going to get them plans that are so good and we’re going to break the borders, we’re going to go [to] the private plans,” Mr. Trump said. “A lot of people had plans they loved before Obamacare came along. You probably did. I have friends that had really good plans — now they have horrible plans and they’re paying five times more for [them].

“We’re going to get great plans, we’re not going to have huge costs — the biggest thing the government has to do is make sure these companies are very, very solvent, you know, that they’re very strong,” he continued. “Because what you don’t want is having a company collapse, right? So that’s the only function of the government.

“Then on top of that, the people that can’t afford to do that, we have to help them out at the lower level, we have to help them out,” he said. “And I would make deals with hospitals and I’d make deals with people where they can get them care, John. I mean, you can’t have a guy that has no money that’s sick and he can’t go see a doctor, he can’t go see a hospital. I just don’t think [you] can have that, ‘cause I’m actually a conservative with a heart. And if I lose votes for that, I don’t really care.

“Because you have to take care of poor people — I mean, think of yourself: you’re really sick and you’re not allowed to see a doctor. I mean, it’s almost like, sort of … being in hell,” Mr. Trump said. “So we have to take care of people that are poor. We have to do it. And we can make a plan, we can work a deal — I can work a deal with hospitals that’ll be great for everybody and they’ll be able to go there.

“You’re not going to want to do that — it won’t be pretty, it won’t be as nice as the other — but at least they’re being taken care of,” he said. “And under Obamacare, they’re actually not being taken care of very well, either. But Obamacare is a disaster; it’s going to cost a fortune and it really kicks in in ‘16 and it has to be repealed and replaced and we can do a great job with that, I have no doubt — I’m very expert on that stuff.

“You know, I have thousands of people working for me and I have great plans and … they got lucky but I have good people so I guess I got lucky, too,” he said.

Mr. Fredericks said he’s “the only media person this side of the Milky Way” that’s predicting Mr. Trump, who has surged to first in a poll released this week on the 2016 GOP field, will ultimately win the nomination.

Mr. Trump said “you may be right” and that he will work hard to make him right.

“I’m always right,” Mr. Fredericks said.

“You are always right — have a good time John, thank you very much,” Mr. Trump said.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jul/16/donald-trump-im-actually-a-conservative-with-a-hea/#ixzz3g9ktMua7

The John Fredericks Show is Common Sense for the Commonwealth. It is the only morning political news-talk show focused on local issues that impact the daily lives of Virginia residents. The John Fredericks Show broadcasts live weekdays from 6-10am on WHKT AM 1650 – Hampton Roads, WNTW AM 820 – Richmond – Central Virginia
and WBZS 102.5 FM – Roanoke and the New River Valley

 

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Trump on HRVA Radio: I Can Work a Deal

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, the real estate and pop culture mogul who appears to be the front runner in an early GOP race, did John Fredericks’ radio show this morning.

Trump dropped both compliment and invective, the first for Fredericks, the latter for the Obama administration, the media, the Mexican and Chinese governments, Macy’s and Macy’s CEO, whom he called a gutless coward for recently dropping Trump’s clothing line.

Trump also referred to his opponents in this presidential race as “all these other clowns.”

“He’s going to be the nominee,” Fredericks said in introducing Trump. “I am never wrong.”

Fredericks then read a promo recommending “investment grade diamonds” and brought on Trump, who lauded the self proclaimed “Commander of Common Sense” as “a man of great brain power and a lot of common sense.”

Trump’s pitch can be summarized thusly: If I was president, I’d bring my amazing deal-making abilities to bear, solving roughly all problems and rebuilding the American Dream, which is currently dead.

Some outtakes:

On the Obama administration’s handling of the Iran nuclear deal: “Are we dealing with 3rd grade people here? … A classic incompetence. … We have people who did not read The Art of the Deal.”

How he would have handled Iran: “I would have sanctioned them up the wazoo. … I’d rather not go in militarily.”

How long these negotiations should have taken, following a doubling or tripling of sanctions, and a satisfied demand for American prisoner releases: “About a day.”

On the media: “Much of it is very dishonest.”

On negotiating with other countries: “I beat the Chinese (in business deals). … You mention my name to them, they go hide under a table. … All these other clowns … Bush can’t make deals with China.”

On his previous support for universal health care: “I want people taken care of … including people who don’t have anything. … I’m actually a conservative with a heart.”

How he’d accomplish that: “I can work a deal with hospitals.”

The roughly 20 minute interview wrapped with Trump telling Fredericks he’s going to work hard to win the nomination and prove him right.

“I am always right,” Fredericks replied.

Read the Daily Press article here.

 

The John Fredericks Show is Common Sense for the Commonwealth. It is the only morning political news-talk show focused on local issues that impact the daily lives of Virginia residents. The John Fredericks Show broadcasts live weekdays from 6-10am on WHKT AM 1650 – Hampton Roads, WNTW AM 820 – Richmond – Central Virginia
and WBZS 102.5 FM – Roanoke and the New River Valley

 

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GOP Presidential Front-Runner Donald Trump on The John Fredericks Show

ICYMI:  Full Audio of GOP Presidential Front – Runner Donald Trump on The John Fredericks Radio Show on July 16 , 2015

For MP3 Email Request to John@JFRadioShow.com

Comments: 757-692-1710

 

The John Fredericks Show is Common Sense for the Commonwealth. It is the only morning political news-talk show focused on local issues that impact the daily lives of Virginia residents. The John Fredericks Show broadcasts live weekdays from 6-10am on WHKT AM 1650 – Hampton Roads, WNTW AM 820 – Richmond – Central Virginia
and WBZS 102.5 FM – Roanoke and the New River Valley

 

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Rep. Dave Brat: Trade Deal, Amnesty Attempt In NDAA: ‘A Slap in the Face’

Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) says he’ll oppose giving President Obama fast track trade authority.

On The John Fredericks’ Show, Brat said Obama’s push for fast-track trade authority is similar to the efforts Obama used to pass through immigration amnesty, calling them rushed processes that occur behind closed doors without public debate.

“Debate is a very healthy thing… We need to debate and show where the pressure points are on these arguments, [but] we can’t do that. [Instead] I have to go down to a security bunker– and I have been in there to read the bill– and it’s 400 pages,” Brat said. “What am I going to do? Memorize that and then arrange the key points in my head? And then part of it’s classified and you don’t know what you can even mention to your fellow members or not that haven’t read it yet because it’s under security.”

Brat also criticized Congress’ attempt to include a provision within the National Defense Authorization Act that would have given the Pentagon the option to consider illegal immigrants who came to America as minors to join the U.S. military for citizenship, although the Act made several cuts to current military personnel positions held now by Americans.

Brat said Congress “laid off 30,000 of our best and brightest in the services last year because we can’t afford it in the budget, we’ve trained some of these people in to the [tune of] $100,000 a piece– we’re letting them go; they’ve been trained [and are] assets for our military and the other side is arguing that illegal aliens coming across… are the best we can do for our services. It’s a slap in the face.”

Brat said he is a free trader and is disappointed he has to take this position because he knows many of his constituents need trade to take place, but the ultimate decision rests on trusting President Obama and the process.

“I operate on the fundamentals: the rule of law matters, the Constitution matters, the free market matters, telling the truth matters, and if any of those get violated, I’m a no,” Brat said.

Dave Brat AP
AP Photo/Steve Helber

Report by Alex Swoyer

 

The John Fredericks Show is Common Sense for the Commonwealth. It is the only morning political news-talk show focused on local issues that impact the daily lives of Virginia residents. The John Fredericks Show broadcasts live weekdays from 6-10am on WHKT AM 1650 – Hampton Roads, WNTW AM 820 – Richmond – Central Virginia
and WBZS 102.5 FM – Roanoke and the New River Valley

 

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