Commentary, Opinion

Trump was the middle finger of the proletariat

By Tom Evslin

This commentary is by Tom Evslin of Stowe, an entrepreneur, author and former Douglas administration official. 

The Trumpenfinger to the elite wasn’t meant to be pretty.

I’m being optimistic in using the past tense about the former president. I do hope he’s fading from the political scene. However, there are important reasons why almost half the voters supported him in 2016 and 2020 and why so many remain loyal to him today.

We ignore those reasons and those votes democratically cast at our own peril and, yes, at the peril of democracy.

Start with the Trump policies which have carried on into the Biden administration.

Trump said immigration was out of control; I thought that was xenophobia. Didn’t think we needed a wall. But immigration is out of control. Border towns have been given the impossible burden of millions of people pouring in. Liberal “sanctuary cities” whine when a few busloads are sent their way.

Biden tried to continue Trump’s Covid-prevention excuse to turn migrants away at the border; but a federal judge has just ruled that out. Hispanic voters increasingly support Republican efforts to stop illegal immigration.

Yes, there should be a better path to citizenship. Yes, we need workers. But part of the signal sent with the Trumpenfinger was that elites were, perhaps deliberately, ignoring the problem of a broken border and the effect on real people.

Trump said the U.S. had struck bad trade deals in the interest of globalization. He pointed to China as an example of a country taking advantage of our liberal trade rules. Again he was accused of xenophobia and racism. Biden has doubled down on a hostile China policy. Apparently the people pointing the Trumpenfinger were right.

This is not just a left-right thing at all. Corruption in the “bipartisan” middle is what enraged both the left-wing Occupy Wall Street and the right-wing Tea Party movements when not only banks but also bank investors and over-compensated bank officers were bailed out during the Great Recession.

Lately, the only bipartisan bill which passed was the Chips Act, a subsidy for some of the most successful corporations in the world that make computer chips — and whose executives and investors can be counted on to remember their friends with campaign contributions.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats, who each had a turn at controlling the presidency and both houses of Congress, have managed to repeal the outrageous carried-interest tax loophole for venture capitalists and hedge fund managers. Trumpenfinger! But Trump didn’t get rid of it either.

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