Trump’s Powerful Brand of Populism Is Winning Over the Working Class

“Every day I wake up determined to deliver for the people I have met all across this nation that have been neglected, ignored and abandoned,” Donald Trump told a crowd this fall. “I have visited the laid-off factory workers, and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals. These are the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice.”

“I AM YOUR VOICE,” he boomed.

And yet somehow liberals are surprised that he wasn’t joking, that his promise of a populist presidency was sincere.

Despite his status as president-elect, Mr. Trump has already assumed one title, that of negotiator-in-chief. Although he won’t occupy the Oval Office until December, he’s already begun using his stature to defend American workers and call out questionable businesses.

Last month, Mr. Trump called the CEO of Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, and asked him to rethink the decision to close the Carrier plant in Indiana. Ultimately, after Trump explained his plans to reform the corporate tax structure and streamline regulations, and, if it came to it, slap tariffs on imports from Mexico, Carrier changed course. They announced they would retain approximately 800 manufacturing jobs that were previously slated to move to Mexico, and another 300 engineering and leadership jobs.

Liberal commentators, seemingly confused that a Republican would fight for blue collar workers, leapt up to decry the deal.

“Don’t be fooled by Trump’s deal to save some Carrier jobs,” liberal blog ThinkProgress wrote. Salon ran the unwieldy headline, “Donald Trump’s first big economic blunder: Beneath the noise and bluster, Carrier deal is disastrous.” And Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote in the Washington Post that it is “not enough to save some of these jobs.”

This type of reaction, as Kirsten Powers, writes in USA Today is why Democrats lost blue collar workers:

Is it any wonder really that white working class voters don’t feel connected to the Democratic Party? While it’s true that picking up the phone to keep some 1,000 jobs is not in itself a policy to reinvigorate the manufacturing sector — after all, 85% of manufacturing jobs have been lost due to automation, not globalization – dismissing “saving” jobs as lacking meaning is tone deaf, at best.

To be fair, some conservatives also spoke of their concern that Trump’s brand of economic nationalism may ultimately rise to the level of crony capitalism. Still, as Daniel Howes writes for the Detroit News, this was an election based around the idea of looking out for the American worker, not about maintaining conservative orthodoxy.

“This being the heart of the industrial heartland, the downsides around here to such high-level interference are a distant second to the fact that Trump is prepared to stand athwart global capital flows and yell stop in the name of the American worker,” Howes wrote.

A recent poll conducted by Politico/Morning Consult tells the tale. Sixty percent of voters said that Trump’s negotiations with Carrier to keep manufacturing jobs in Indiana, gives them a more favorable view of Trump. That figure includes 87 percent of self-identified Republicans, as well as 54 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats.

Trump took a similarly brash and populist stance by sharply criticizing Boeing’s production costs for the new fleet of Air Force Ones.

“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Cancel order!”

No one doubts that the planes will be expensive. After all, they necessarily contain an array of top-secret communications gear and security features in order to conduct business in the air, potentially during a global crisis. But given that a typical 747-8 costs $358 million, it’s fair to question just where all that money is going. More than that, it sends a clear signal that Trump isn’t just a dealmaker interested in keeping jobs in the United States, he’s also going to use every ounce of leverage he has to make sure that the American taxpayer is getting the best deal possible.

And let’s not forget that Mr. Trump was also able to work with Japanese businessman Masyoshi Son on a deal to get the software conglomerate SoftBank Group to invest $50 billion in the United States.

He understands, better than any politician in recent memory, the divide between the people and the elite. And in each and every case he’s going to side with the American people, party and principles and politics be damned. What’s most astounding is that Trump is managing to accomplish all of this before he even takes his seat behind the Resolute desk. But desk or no, no one can doubt his resolute action in favor of workers.