The prevailing opinion on President-elect
“Donald Trump is post-ideological,” Trump’s campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, said at a
With Trump, “you will have no idea each morning what’s going to happen,” former House Speaker
Maybe. But if you watch what Trump does, not what he says — which at this point, mostly means the choices he makes for Cabinet positions — he doesn't look unusual at all.
In Trump's picks for economic and domestic policymaking jobs, there's a consistent underlying thread. And no, it's not that so many of them are billionaires.
It's Republican orthodoxy. Trump's choices have all been thoroughgoing conservatives who believe in the free market, deregulation and, wherever possible, privatization of government functions.
Most of them could have been nominated by any
There's nary a populist among them – not even the conservative kind.
"Conservatives are happy," Scott Reed, a political advisor to the business-establishment U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told me. "It's a mainstream conservative list of very competent people."
Take a look at the names.
Betsy DeVos, the choice for Education, is a champion of privately run charter schools and voucher plans to help parents pay private school tuition. Before Trump, she supported Jeb Bush.
At Transportation, Elaine Chao spent eight years in George W. Bush's Cabinet, and she's married to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. It's hard to get much more establishment than that.
There's not a populist insurrectionist in the bunch.
"This is a business-friendly Cabinet of pragmatists," a top corporate lobbyist in Washington told me, asking for anonymity to protect his multinational clients. "These are people orthodox Republicans can work with."
What happened to all the populism in Trump's platform that made him the champion of so many white working-class voters? It's been quietly downsized since election day.
The wall Trump promised to build along the southern border is now a fence.
The trillion-dollar infrastructure program to build roads, bridges and airports has shrunk to $550 billion, and most of that — if Congress agrees — will be private sector investment, not government money.
"Drain the swamp?" Yes, there's a rule barring lobbyists from serving in the transition — but they can get around it simply by revoking their lobbying registration.
Trump and Ross say they still plan to renegotiate
That doesn't mean Trump has forgotten his working-class voters.
He's offered them a series of grand gestures. He's renounced his salary as president. He's said he'll cancel the contract for a new Air Force One to save money. He jawboned Carrier into keeping 730 jobs in Indiana in exchange for $7 million in tax credits.
All brilliant marketing, and enough to launch a victory tour – rallies in Ohio last week, North Carolina Tuesday night, Iowa and Michigan next.
So far, in practice, Trumpism looks like mainstream conservatism plus tougher trade negotiations – and now, circuses. Just like the campaign.