The Donald Trump presidency is now one year old and in many respects ― the unhinged tweeting, the contempt for democratic norms, the potential collusion with a hostile foreign power ― it has been unlike any presidency in history.
But there is one respect in which Trump’s tenure in office has been rather ordinary: his administration’s year-long effort to push familiar Republican initiatives that shift money and power towards corporations and the rich, and away from everybody else.
No, this is not the kind of presidency that Trump promised. As a candidate, he portrayed himself as a different sort of Republican, one who would attack the financial industry, govern independently of wealthy special interests, and protect public programs on which poor and middle-class Americans depend.
On Inauguration Day, speaking from the steps of the Capitol building, Trump reaffirmed those allegiances and priorities: “We are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.”
Of course, when Trump vowed to protect “the forgotten men and women of our country,” he likely had a specific subset of men and women in mind ― working-class Americans and, in particular, white working-class Americans. Stoking their racial resentment has been a theme of his presidency, just as it was a theme of his candidacy.
He promised to defend “forgotten Americans.” Then he forgot them.