This may be the weirdest election year ever. People are not happy about what’s happening in their lives and a supposedly “anti-establishment” candidate has risen by playing off these fears and scapegoating all of the usual suspects.
Time and again, in talking to people I know they’ve told me that they like Trump because they see him as an “outsider.”
“How,” I ask, since this type of scapegoating and raging against “big government” has been going on for over 30 years, “is Trump any different?”
To me, this looks like Lucy laying down the football once again for Charlie Brown. “This time it will be different, Charlie Brown,” she says. And we all know what happens. The candidate was just playing us.
Don’t buy it. It’s the same establishment, tea party trick of pretending to run as an outsider that we’ve seen for years. Donald Trump is the establishment.
1. When you can tell people how corrupt you are without any consequences, you are the establishment.
I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And yunno what, when I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.
2. When you can say you want to be like the Russian president and don’t get called a communist or a traitor, you are the establishment.
Trump seems to enjoy the unique privilege of being able to suck up to Putin without suffering any political consequences. If he weren’t of the .01 percent, he’d never be able to do this.
When you get called a communist or a socialist or they say that you’re trying to encourage class warfare just for talking about the issue of income inequality inherent in capitalism, then you are actually anti-establishment. When you can kiss Putin’s butt in public, you are the establishment.
3. When you get $2.8 billion of free advertising, you are the establishment.
According to statistics from mediaQuant, Donald Trump has gotten nearly $3 billion in free advertising. By comparison, Ted Cruz, his nearest Republican rival, received the equivalent of $771 million in free advertising.
This is why Donald Trump won the Republican nomination. He gets this kind of coverage because he is the establishment and knows how to work the media. Throwing bombs against the government has been establishment since at least Newt Gingrich.
4. When you lie 70 to 80 percent of the time and the media keeps repeating your lies, you are the establishment.
Trump’s collective campaign statements were rated Politifact’s lie of the year in 2015. Currently, of the statements Politifact has evaluated from Trump, 176 out of 250 (70 percent) are rated as lies. The Economist calls him the leading exponent of post-truth politics.
“Post truth” … that’s a nice way of saying that if he opens his mouth, he’s lying.
5. When you promote birther conspiracies and can win the nomination of a major party, you are the establishment.
As recently as July 2015, Trump was still repeating the conspiracy that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States. The more Trump repeated the conspiracy, the better he performed in the GOP primary.
6. When you have no political qualifications or experience and run for office, you are the establishment.
Raging against the government in Washington has been establishment thought since Ronald Reagan.
This certain kind of “anti-establishment” thinking, railing about how wealthy private owners can do so much better than democracy, is the establishment of the 1 percent. Trump isn’t saying anything that Rush Limbaugh hasn’t said for 30 years.
It’s just now establishment thought. Electing him isn’t going to change anything. He’ll continue to work to reduce wages and sell off our democracy to the highest bidders.
7. When you have your own reality TV show for 14 years, you are the establishment.
8. When you can refuse to release your tax returns and not be held accountable, you are the establishment.
Every Republican candidate since Richard Nixon has released their tax returns in order to demonstrate they hold no serious conflicts of interest.
As Newsweek reported this week, there’s a great deal of concern about Donald Trump’s undisclosed business dealings.
9. When tax cuts for the 1 percent is your economic platform, you are the establishment.
Trump’s tax proposals heavily benefit those at the top.
His proposals would also, according to the Tax Policy Center, lead to an additional $11.2 trillion deficit over the first 10 years.
10. When you’re a billionaire who stands to significantly benefit from your own proposals, you are the establishment.
As the Washington Post reports:
Trump’s plan would dramatically reduce taxes on what is known in tax circles as “pass-through” entities, which do not pay corporate income taxes, but whose owners are taxed at individual rates on their share of profits. Those entities are the most common structure for small businesses and increasingly popular for larger ones as well. They are also a cornerstone of the Trump Organization. On his 2015 presidential financial disclosure report, Trump listed holdings of more than 200 limited liability corporations, which is a form of pass-through.
It’s unclear exactly how much Trump would benefit, but what is clear is that it would be significant.
11. When you can bribe a state attorney general to drop charges against you, you are the establishment.
Just as Florida’s attorney general was considering whether to join a multi-state lawsuit against Trump University, a $25,000 check arrived from the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Shortly thereafter, the attorney general announced she would not join the multi-state investigation.
12. When you can dodge the draft and run as a patriot, you are the establishment.
Trump received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War—four for college and one for bad feet.
Similar to George W. Bush, when you can avoid the war and then run as a patriot, you are the elite establishment.
Not only that, but in 2011 when Trump was considering a run for president, he lied and said he’d gotten a high draft number.
13. When you ARE the establishment and can get away with pretending you’re anti-establishment, you are the establishment.
No one other than a member of America’s .01 percent could get away with any of the above. It would never be tolerated.
Yet Donald Trump, as a member of the establishment, gets away with it daily. The media simply repeats his claim that he’s an outsider even though he’s the consummate insider with all the privilege that it entails including free media coverage, kid glove treatment from the press in exchange for access, and the ability to skirt the law through campaign contributions.
Donald Trump is the establishment.
David Akadjian is the author of The Little Book of Revolution: A Distributive Strategy for Democracy (ebook now available). Cross posted at Daily Kos.