The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump’s Disappearing Populism

Henry Olsen asks a good question in the New York Times: “Whatever Happened to Trump’s Populist Agenda?” Contrary to his claim that “Mr. Trump and some of his supporters had good ideas for a reformed Republican Party that fuses conservative and populist elements into an alloy stronger than either on its own,” I think the basic answer is that Trump didn’t have much of a populist agenda to begin with.

Olsen implicitly agrees, I think, which is why he spends most of his op-ed trying to devise an agenda that doesn’t look much like one that Trump has ever embraced. Olsen’s preferred trade policy — targeted sanctions against countries for specific trade practices to which we object, combined with the pursuit of expanded trade generally — seems, for example, much more sensible than what we have seen from Trump.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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