In Reaction to the Reactionary-in-Chief’s Latest Offense

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has only had seven Directors (as opposed to acting Directors) in its 82-year history. From what I can gather, none of the seven have been Democrats or liberals. Even Democratic Presidents have selected conservative Republicans for the job. There have only been three Democratic Presidents who had the chance to select an FBI Director and Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were all known for their “bipartisan” tendencies. No doubt the three of them also wanted to appear “tough on crime”.

So it’s unlikely that our Republican President will nominate a Democrat to lead the law enforcement agency that’s looking into his Russian connection. But he could pick a respected Democrat. It would make the President look less like the criminal that he is.

I can’t think of anything else to say about this crisis that’s not already being said. For instance:

John Cassidy, The New Yorker:

Ever since [DT] took office, many people have worried about his commitment to democratic norms, the Constitution, and the rule of law. From the hasty promulgation of his anti-Muslim travel ban onward, he has done little to salve these concerns. Now he has acted like one of the authoritarian leaders he so admires—a Putin, an Erdoğan, or an El-Sisi.

Congress must restrain him and reassert the principles of American democracy by appointing an independent special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation. If the legislature won’t act unprompted—and the initial signs are that most of the G.O.P. intends to yield to the President’s abuse of his power—it will be incumbent on the American people to register their protests forcefully, and to put pressure on their elected officials. [DT] is a menace. He must be stopped.

David Cole, The New York Review of Books:

Current investigations in both the House and the Senate are controlled by Republicans, and as House Intelligence chair Devin Nunes has shown, party loyalty can all too easily compromise a meaningful inquiry. In early April, Nunes was forced to step down from his committee’s investigation… That’s why Comey was such a threat to [DT]. He was the only official independent of the administration and its party reviewing the campaign’s ties to Russia….

The vitality of the rule of law in the United States will depend on whether the American people are willing to hold the Trump administration accountable. As Archibald Cox said, shortly after Richard Nixon fired him as Watergate special prosecutor: “Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people.” We remain a democracy, at least for the time being, and if we the people insist on an independent investigation, we will get one. But only if we insist—including by demanding that our elected representatives take full responsibility for addressing this crisis with every power at their disposal. As Ben Franklin reportedly warned some 240 years ago, the Framers gave us “a republic, if you can keep it.” [DT]’s latest action puts that question once again to the test.

So far, Congressional Republicans are either supporting the President’s obstruction of justice or expressing “concerns”. (If he were to murder a nun in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, the most thoughtful Republicans might be moved to express “deep concerns”.)

It’s not clear, therefore, that putting pressure on Republicans will make much of a difference. If you want to see what members of Congress are saying, however, The New York Times is keeping track.

As of 3:40 p.m. today

138 Democrats (or independents) have called for a special prosecutor 

84 Democrats (etc.) and 5 Republicans have called for an independent investigation.

41 Republicans and 9 Democrats have questions or concerns (the Democrats have deep concerns)

96 Republicans are neutral or support the President’s action

146 Republicans and 12 comatose Democrats haven’t said a thing 

Zero members of Congress have called for the President’s immediate impeachment (I added this category myself. It doesn’t hurt to mention it.)

He Doesn’t Have a Clue. Neither Do They.

This piece by Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine very nicely explains some of the Orange Menace’s appeal. He is the apotheosis of the Low Information Voter, the citizens who are conscientious enough to register and cast a ballot, but who have trouble deciding who to vote for, not so much because they’re “centrists” with “moderate” views, but because they don’t have a fucking clue:

It is widely known that [DT] — whose political profile over the decades has vacillated from liberal to conservative to moderate to populist, and supported and opposed abortion rights, higher taxes on the rich, and universal health care — does not care very much about political ideas. This explanation is true, but incomplete. The president also does not know very much about political ideas. And it is not merely the details of policy that he lacks. Trump has no context for processing ideas. He does not understand which kinds of ideas imply support for which kinds of policies, nor why political figures tend to believe what they do, nor why they agree or disagree with one another. He is capable of forming strongly held beliefs about people in politics, but he does so in entirely personal terms. Trump’s flamboyant, weird ignorance reveals a distinct pattern. He is not so much non-ideological as sub-ideological.

It is common to attribute Trump’s protean identity as simple self-interest: He has aligned himself with whichever party seemed to benefit him at any given moment. And surely calculation plays a role. But it cannot explain all his puzzling statements about politics. Sometimes he expresses openness about unpopular policies his administration and party would never go for (like a higher tax on gasoline). Trump constantly relates questions about politics back to himself and his alleged deal-making genius not only because he’s a narcissist, but because the contest of political debate remains largely mysterious to him.

Many Americans share Trump’s lack of ideological sophistication. High-information voters tend to clump at the ends of the political spectrum. They may not have sophisticated beliefs, but their identification with one of the party coalitions is a tool they use to make sense of individual issues. Low-information voters tend to have a weak understanding of what the political parties stand for and how those positions relate to each other. These voters can be roughly categorized as “centrist” because they don’t line up neatly with one party platform or the other. But, rather than a consistently moderate outlook, they share a mishmash of extreme and frequently uninformed beliefs. Because they don’t understand the philosophical basis for disagreements, they assume the two parties ought to naturally cooperate, and tend to see partisan bickering as a failure and an indication of personal fault by politicians.

Trump thinks about politics like a low-information voter, which enabled him to speak their language naturally. His stated belief during the campaign that he could expertly craft a series of popular deals — “it’s going to be so easy” — appealed to low-information voters because it earnestly described the political world as they see it. Trump’s experience as a developer and professional celebrity have put a narcissistic gloss on Trump’s low-information worldview. He sees politics as a variation of real estate or reality television — a field where the players are sorted not so much as combatants on opposing teams (though they may compete at times) but on a hierarchy of success, with the big stars at the top sharing interests in common. His vague boasts that his presidency would create terrific things that everybody loves and is winning again is a version of how he truly sees the world….

Politics is a strange institution that forces committed professionals who have coherent philosophical beliefs to persuade voters who mostly do not. Barack Obama accomplished this in highbrow fashion. His characteristic political style was to incorporate the values of both left and right and try to … synthesize the perspectives together. (“There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.”) Trump accomplishes it in lowbrow style, by literally not understanding the source of the disagreement.

On that note, perhaps a bit of humor will help. Here’s Tom Tomorrow of This Modern World from back in 2004. That was the election that pitted the dim-witted, semi-competent incumbent, President George W. Bush, who had already screwed up one way and another for four years, against John Kerry, the respected but boring Senator and future Secretary of State who had married an heiress and wasn’t a “regular guy”:

themodernworld-theundecidedvoter

The Feel Good Phenomenon Known as DT

Jennifer Rubin graduated first in her class at U.C. Berkeley’s law school. After working as a lawyer for 20 years, she began writing political commentary for well-known right-wing magazines. Now she writes The Washington Post‘s “Right Turn” blog.

The good news is that she thinks DT is a disaster.

Yesterday, she published two pieces that especially impressed me. The first, “This Is Not a Normal President”, reviews the ways in which DT seriously screwed up. It concludes:

During the first 100 days [of DT’s administration], the Republic has survived, but the GOP [i.e. the Republican Party], permanently we think, has been morally compromised and intellectually corrupted, just as many of us warned. “Everything Trump touches dies,” GOP consultant Rick Wilson is fond of saying. Trump’s victims now include a respectable Republican Party.

The second was “[DT] Suspends Disbelief – On Most Everything” . It’s one of the best explanations I’ve read of why many supposedly competent voters voted for the Orange Menace:

The country is … divided … between those who want politics to tend to their emotional needs (pride, recognition, resentment) and those who want politics to solve problems while they take care of their self-esteem and emotional well-being in other ways. Ironically, Republicans who for decades accused the left of playing to emotions rather than dealing with cold, hard facts now eschew objective reality in favor of feelings….

Trump fans think he is winning because he yells at the press, vilifies cities run by Democrats, denies climate change and demonizes immigrants. He talks and acts like they wish they could — demeaning women, stereotyping minorities, telling off experts…. It does not matter to Trump fans if the executive orders are struck down or are mere window dressing (authorizing an agency to study something it already has the power to study). He makes them feel as if they’re winning, as if they are now more important than the experts with the facts and the courts with the laws on their side. Trump fans, the quintessential Fox News viewers, revel in the know-nothingism of a hero who reflects their anger, grievances, frustration and, yes, prejudice.

It will only take a few minutes to read the whole thing. I highly recommend reading it if you still occasionally ask yourself “who the hell are these people?”

On a related topic, I had one of those thoughts today that feel like an important insight even though they’re blindingly obvious. It came to me after watching today’s Hillary Clinton interview. At one point, she referred to some of the promises DT made during the campaign. And it occurred to me that all politicians make promises, but most voters are relatively cynical about those promises being kept. We’ve heard their promises before and we know it’s hard for politicians to get anything important done. Presidents, for example, aren’t dictators who can simply issue commands (“Make it so”). 

But DT wasn’t (and isn’t) anywhere near being a typical politician. He could make a ton of big promises, one after the other, and lots of voters thought, well, he’s not a politician, he’s different, maybe he really can do these big things he’s promising. I mean, maybe he can renegotiate all these treaties and make health insurance cheaper and bring back coal mining. He says only he can fix it! If a regular politician said that, it would sound ridiculous. But this guy is so strange, maybe he really can do what he says. Let’s give him a chance!

Of course, most of us saw through him. It was easy. But enough hopeful people in a few Midwestern states were willing to give him a chance. Now we’re paying the price for their ignorance and blinkered optimism.

We Need To Outnumber Them

DT is a terrible person, yet almost 63 million Americans voted for him. Although it’s tempting to blame his Electoral College success on mass psychosis, perhaps his win wasn’t so outlandish after all. Charles Pierce argues that DT was a “helluva candidate”:

In fact, for the cultural and political context within which [the 2016] election took place, he might have been a perfect candidate….There really was a big slice of the electorate, concentrated in states that were vital in the Electoral College, that was uniquely susceptible to [DT’s] appeal. He and his people spotted it and campaigned accordingly….

[DT] is merely a cruder manifestation of the political prion disease that has afflicted conservatism and the Republican Party since it first ate the monkey brains 35 years ago. It was all leading to someone like [DT], and something like last year’s election.

Prion diseases destroy brain cells and are always fatal. Fortunately, they’re rare. What Mr. Pierce calls “political prion disease” doesn’t kill the people who have it and is much too common. 

The same day this week that Mr. Pierce published his comment, a blogger who calls himself “Driftglass” expressed an equally harsh opinion:

You see, the overwhelming majority of the rank-and-file of the [Republican Party] are unsalvageably fucked-in-the-head.  They are happily brainwashed nitwits and racists who would gladly belly-flop their entire family into a live volcano if Fox News told them to and would spend their last moments on this Earth before being incinerated into iconoclastic ash cursing Obama or Clinton or Nancy Pelosi or Susan Rice for the ouch ouch burning.

After watching Republicans for 30 years marching down and down and down this long and horrifying road to smug, snarling, mindless political bestiality, it is about goddamn time that we started treating this grim fact as a fact.

(Note: I think it’s clear where Driftglass stands.)

Driftglass argues that we shouldn’t try to change these crazy people’s minds or even try to meet them halfway. They’re beyond hope. He points out that President Obama tried and tried again to work with them. Obama was much too optimistic:

At this late date it absurd to believe that we will find any potential converts on the Right, primed and ready for a Road to Damascus moment if only [DT] fucks them over enough… Of course President Obama was never going to say this out loud, or apparently every let himself think such terrible thoughts at all.  To him, every Republican pile of horseshit was taken as proof that a pony could not be far away, if only we clapped a little louder, bent over a bit further and were never so crass as to mention that the GOP was run by amoral thugs and hobgoblins.

Not everyone on the left agrees with this position, of course. We’re still being told to see things from the perspective of DT’s ardent supporters, so that we can address their concerns with intelligent, progressive policies that don’t offend their sensibilities. Bernie Sanders, for example, keeps saying there is common ground between us. Everybody hates the big banks! Everybody wants peace and prosperity for all! When salt of the earth, “real” Americans realize the Republican Party has been selling them a bill of goods, they’ll see the light.

I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m even less optimistic after reading a very interesting article by Zack Beauchamp last month. Its title is: “No easy answers: why left-wing economics is not the answer to right-wing populism”. Beauchamp describes Senator Sanders delivering his usual message after the election: 

Sanders had a simple answer. Democrats, he said, needed to field candidates who would unapologetically promise [to] “to stand up with the working class of this country and … take on big-money interests.”

Democrats, in other words, would only be able to defeat [DT] and others like him if they adopted an anti-corporate, unabashedly left-wing policy agenda.

That’s a belief widely shared among progressives around the world. A legion of commentators and politicians … have argued that center-left parties must shift further to the left in order to fight off right-wing populists such as [DT] and France’s Marine Le Pen. Supporters of these leaders, they argue, are motivated by a sense of economic insecurity in an increasingly unequal world; promise them a stronger welfare state, one better equipped to address their fundamental needs, and they will flock to the left.

Unfortunately, there is evidence that shows otherwise:

The problem is that a lot of data suggests that countries with more robust welfare states tend to have stronger far-right movements. Providing white voters with higher levels of economic security does not tamp down their anxieties about race and immigration — or, more precisely, it doesn’t do it powerfully enough. For some, it frees them to worry less about what’s in their wallet and more about who may be moving into their neighborhoods or competing with them for jobs… 

A more populist Democratic platform might rally more voters to [DT], as many whites will see it as a giveaway to undeserving minorities.

It’s hard to believe it’s true, but Beauchamp makes a strong case:

European social democrats have been proposing ideas that more objectively speak to the material interests of voters … for decades. In virtually every country in Western Europe, however, it hasn’t been enough to help the [left-wing] parties maintain their historic levels of public support….

[One political scientist] argues that the combination of rapid economic growth and a robust welfare state have provided voters with enough economic security that they could start prioritizing issues beyond the distribution of wealth — issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and, most crucially, immigration.

So it’s not that European social democrats failed to sell their economic message, or that economic redistribution became unpopular. It’s that economic issues receded in importance at the same time as Europe was experiencing a massive, unprecedented wave of nonwhite, non-Christian immigration.

That, in turn, brought some of the most politically potent non-material issues — race, identity and nationalism — to the forefront of Western voters’ minds. How comfortable were they, really, with multicultural, multifaith societies? The traditional social democratic message didn’t really speak to these cultural anxieties. But the right’s did….

[A German professor] studied data on working-class voters [and] found that the stronger the welfare state, the bigger the gains for far-right parties among the working class. The top third of countries — that is, the ones with the largest welfare states — saw roughly four times the rate of far-right support among the working class as the countries in the bottom third did…. Right-wing populists typically have gotten their best results in wealthier areas of countries — that is, with voters who experience the least amounts of economic insecurity.

This doesn’t bode well for the approach Senator Sanders keeps promoting. But it does correspond to what’s known about the typical DT voter. On average, his voters were more prosperous than Clinton voters (i.e. doing relatively well) but nevertheless intensely opposed to America becoming more diverse (even though diversity is part of our strength). For them, “make America great again” meant “make America like it’s 1955 again”. 

If, however, we can’t make them see the light, how do we stop them from electing so many crazy people? If a strong progressive message and policies that benefit society as a whole will only make them angrier, more fearful and more likely to focus on “social” or “cultural” issues, it seems to me that the only thing we can do is outnumber them. We have to oppose mass deportation and restrictions on immigration. We need to welcome refugees. And most importantly, we need to fight for voting rights and always, always, always vote in every single election. Especially for candidates who aren’t crazy.

If There Was Any Doubt

Polls indicate that Americans are evenly split regarding DT’s cruise missile attack on the Syrian airfield last week. A Washington Post poll found 51% in favor, which corresponds to results from Gallup (50%) and YouGov (51%). CBS found 57% in favor, but their poll didn’t mention the unpopular DT by name. We can conclude that the Washington Post poll was reasonably accurate.

Here’s the interesting thing:

In 2013, when Barack Obama was president, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that only 22 percent of Republicans supported the U.S. launching missile strikes against Syria in response to Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons against civilians.

[The] new Post-ABC poll finds that 86 percent of Republicans support [DT’s] decision to launch strikes on Syria for the same reason. Only 11 percent are opposed.

Republican support for attacking Syria went from 22% to 86% when a Republican replaced a Democrat in the White House!

You might say that’s how people are. The Democrats probably switched sides just like the Republicans.

You would be wrong:

For context, 37 percent of Democrats back Trump’s missile strikes. In 2013, 38 percent of Democrats supported Obama’s plan.

In other words, changing Presidents didn’t matter to the Democrats at all (a 1% difference is well within the margin of error).

Do you get the feeling that our Republican friends belong to a tribe in which group loyalty is a paramount virtue? And that other values play a secondary role? For that matter, that facts aren’t as important to them as group loyalty?

Some of the explanation for their astounding fickleness is, no doubt, that the right-wing propaganda they swallowed in 2013 was anti-missile attack, while the right-wing propaganda only four years later was pro-missile-attack. But being this easy to manipulate is just as bad as putting tribal loyalty above everything else. It’s all part of the same sad and dangerous phenomenon. Millions of right-wing Americans care more about group loyalty than reality or morality. If there was any doubt.

Making Sense of Our Attack on the Syrian Airfield

What we think we know:

Chemical weapons were used against a rebel-held town in Syria this week. Up to 100 people were killed and hundreds were injured. The attack was probably launched from a military airfield used by the Syrian government and their Russian allies. DT ordered an attack on the airfield, so the Navy launched roughly 60 cruise missiles. It isn’t clear how much damage was done. The airfield was being used again within 24 hours.

In October 2012, DT predicted that President Obama would attack Libya or Iran in order to raise his poll numbers:

UntitledDT’s approval rating has been remarkably low for a new President. Based on multiple polls, the 538 site says 40% of Americans approved of him this week while 53% disapproved.

We told Russia about the attack in advance in order to minimize its effects. It isn’t known whether the Russians told the Syrians, allowing them to move people and equipment away from the airfield before the cruise missile arrived.

Cruise missiles are often used to “send a message” from a safe distance. They aren’t the weapon of choice when attacking an airfield. 

Russia did not attempt to intercept the cruise missiles, either because their defenses wouldn’t have been effective or because they decided not to interfere.

The attack was warmly received by members of Congress, including Republicans who had warned against Obama doing anything similar.  

News coverage of the attack has been extremely (I’d say ridiculously) positive. Fox News even went so far as to tell their viewers that the airfield suffered “massive damage” and was “almost completely destroyed” (despite being operational again a day later).

The Syrian government is once again bombing the town where chemical weapons were used.

Russia has criticized the American attack and taken a few steps in response.

The DT/Russia Connection; the Republicans’ failure to change the Affordable Care Act; DT’s continuing violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses; and power struggles in the White House aren’t leading the news, because DT replaced those stories with this one. His poll numbers are sure to rise.

This chain of events might lead one to be skeptical about DT suddenly becoming a serious person, even “presidential” as one talking head put it (the last time people said DT was suddenly “presidential” was when he was able to read a speech from beginning to end). I mean, this is DT we’re talking about. That’s why there could be more to the story. Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC raised that possibility in the first three minutes of a video that is no longer available. Here’s what he said:

It’s perfect. Just perfect. I wish it wasn’t. If, if, if Vladimir Putin masterminded the last week in Syria, he has gotten everything he could have asked for.

Vladimir Putin was essentially the man in charge of making sure that Syria got rid of all its chemical weapons under a deal with the Obama administration. And so it makes perfect sense to question whether President Bashar al-Assad would have checked with his most important patron, Vladimir Putin, before using chemical weapons that Vladimir Putin was supposed to have helped get rid of. It would be terribly embarrassing to Vladimir Putin if president Assad had exposed Vladimir Putin failed to get rid of those chemical weapons. You wouldn’t want to be Bashar al-Assad in a conversation with Vladimir Putin after that.

Unless you had a conversation with him before that. Unless Vladimir Putin said I have an idea. ‘Go ahead. Do a small chemical attack. Nothing like the big ones you have done in the past. Just big enough to attract media attention so that my friend in the White House will see it on TV.’ And then, Donald Trump can fire some missiles at Syria that’ll do no real damage. And then the American news media will change the subject from Russian influence in the Trump campaign, and the Trump transition, and the Trump White House.

It’s perfect. It doesn’t just change the subject. For most of the news media, it changes the conventional wisdom about the dynamic between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. President Trump has finally dared to do something that Vladimir Putin doesn’t like. It changes everything. As long as you never question whether Vladimir Putin wanted all of this to happen this week. And when you question that and you look at what has happened, it’s always worth remembering that if Vladimir Putin really does have ways, known or unknown, to influence Donald Trump, then every day that is a good day for President Trump, is a good day for President Putin.

Now not one word that I have just said could possibly have been said about any President prior to Donald Trump. Don’t you miss those days when if there was a chemical attack in Syria you could be absolutely sure that President Assad and President Putin did not do that in order to help the image of the President of the United States. That is the world that Donald Trump has given us.

Finally, political cartoonist Mike Lukovich of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution weighs in:

lk040917_color

Populism and the People

Our new President, henceforth known as DT (or maybe DDT, as in Damn DT) is often called a “populist”. That suggests he’s somehow especially close to “the people”. But during last year’s presidential campaign, it was often said that Bernie Sanders, the self-described “democratic socialist”, was a populist too. Using the same terminology for both DT (DDT?) and Sanders sounded odd, since their political campaigns were so different. How could they both be populists? Besides, don’t all successful politicians in a democracy say they represent “the people”? Otherwise, they wouldn’t be successful politicians.

The answer is that populist politicians claim to represent regular people, in particular the regular people who are suffering at the hands of the rich or powerful. According to John Judis, the author of The Populist Explosion, “populists conceive of politics, or affect to conceive of politics, as a struggle between a noble populace and an out-of-touch, self-serving elite”.  

Thus, during the campaign, both DT and Senator Sanders vigorously attacked the Wall Street bankers and CEO’s who regularly rip off the rest of us and send American jobs overseas. In similar fashion, they both complained that corporate media and party officials had “rigged” the system against them. They both implied that without the interference of corrupt media and political elites, a wave of popular support would carry each of them to the White House, at which point the interests of salt-of-the-earth regular people would finally be protected. 

All politicians claim to represent the interests of the average citizen, of course, but DT and Sanders both emphasized their populist credentials. Clinton, for example, delivered a positive, inclusive message. She promised to work hard to help us all live up to our potential. We would be “stronger together”. Her opponents sounded much, much angrier. Just give them the chance and they’d bring the powerful to heel and “drain the swamp”!

Nevertheless, there is something wrong with how we use the word “populist”. The term comes from the Latin populus, which means the people or the general population. Since “the people” includes everyone, it would make more sense if politicians who promised to help the people in general were called “populists”. Between Clinton, Sanders and DT, it was Clinton who most deserved to be called a “populist”, even though that’s not how we use the word. To be a populist in the standard sense, a politician needs to divide the people into at least two categories: the good people and the bad people. A populist politician promises to punish or corral the bad people in order to protect the good people. That’s what Sanders and DT both promised to do, over and over again.

Even so, there is a difference between the populisms of the left and right. The difference is explained by Richard King in a review at the Sydney Review of Books site:

Judis does make a distinction between populists of the left and the right. For while left populists tend to preach a ‘vertical’ politics of the bottom against the top, right populists will often posit a third entity, living among the people and said to be in allegiance with, or given special treatment by, the elite. [The] content of this third group is variable: Jews, intellectuals, Jewish intellectuals, Muslims, the media, Mexicans, Poles – the list is as long as human bigotry is deep. Judis calls this ‘triadic’ populism and it is clearly very different in character from the dyadic populism of the left….

Indeed, so different are these two forms of populism … that I wonder whether grouping both under the same rubric obscures more than it reveals. Judis is very careful to distinguish between these two forms of populism, and it’s clear that he does so morally, too. But the division of ‘the people’, in the right wing model, into legitimate and illegitimate entities – in-groups and outgroups; friends and foes – is so different from most left wing conceptions of “the people” that we are really talking about a separate phenomenon.

Right-wing populists aren’t satisfied drawing a line between the noble majority and a corrupt elite. They look for others in society to attack, either because those other groups are working with the corrupt elite, or benefiting from the elite’s bad behavior, or simply because they’re (supposedly) up to no good. The review quotes another author, Jan-Werner Müller, who says that a populist like DT willclaim that a part of the people is the people – and that only the populist authentically identifies and represents this real or true people”:

Recent instances of this mindset are thick on the ground. Post-the Brexit vote, UKIP leader Nigel Farage declared the Leave vote a victory for ‘real people’. Similarly, at a campaign rally last May, [DT] announced that ‘the only important thing is the unification of the people – because the other people don’t mean anything’…. This is fundamentally different from a politics that paints the interests of the large mass of people as at odds with a ruling class or establishment….

In terms of populism, therefore, we can categorize politicians in three ways: 

True Populists: Those, like Clinton, who promise to represent the people as a whole. They should be called “populists” but aren’t;

Standard Populists: Those, like Sanders, who promise to represent the common people and fight the corrupt elite (e.g. Wall Street, party leaders); 

Fake Populists: Those, like DT, who promise to represent some people (“the Silent Majority”, “real Americans”), to fight the corrupt elite (e.g. the press, party leaders, government bureaucrats) and also to fight dangerous “others” among us (e.g. “bad hombres”, “radical Islam”).

For the time being, we’re stuck with the last kind.