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The Uses and Abuses of Cultural Identity

by Saagar Enjeti & Marshall Kosloff

Look to Corey Stewart’s near-win in Virginia

President Donald Trump’s inability thus far to translate his populist-nationalist message into a coherent policy agenda, combined with his low approval ratings, could have some Republicans convinced that a return to “normalcy” is on the horizon. For Republicans reluctant to support Trump, a return to normalcy would mean a full embrace of the traditional post-Reagan agenda of low taxes, entitlement reform, and free trade. They view this agenda as normal even though GOP primary voters and Trump himself repudiated free trade über alles and all talk of entitlement reform during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump cited these establishment policy goals after securing the GOP presidential nomination and in the early months of his presidency, but they are clearly not his focus.

These Republicans might tell you that Trump won only because too many primary candidates cluttered the field, he faced one of the worst general-election opponents in American history, and he was able to manipulate lazy mass media. And once elected, Trump has been unable to get much done, the critics note, pointing to the poor initial rollout of the so-called travel ban and to Trump’s inability to push Congress to pass populist legislation of consequence.

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