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Edward Ashbee

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book. The focus of this book is on Donald Trump and his campaign. The book argues that the Trump campaign, like earlier populist insurgencies, can be explained in part by considering some defining features of US political culture and, in particular, attitudes towards government. If we look beyond cultural factors, it also argues that in overall terms, several factors were of particular importance during election year. The book argues furthermore that another factor, which is not usually included in discussions of electoral politics, should be brought into the picture. It explains that each of these overlapping factors contributed to both Trump's victories on the path to the Republican nomination and his eventual capture of the presidency.

in The Trump revolt
Abstract only
Edward Ashbee

Within the broad context of generalised anti-government ideas and entrenched populist sentiments, other ideas and frames were brought to the forefront by the Trump campaign during the course of 2015 and 2016. Although certainly 'unmoored' as National Review asserted, the Trump campaign's thinking, the frames around which it mobilised, and the ideas that secured its votes had a degree of order as well as roots and association, all of which bear analysis. American conservatism and the Republican Party were transformed over the four decades that preceded the 2016 election. For its part, neo-conservatism or 'national security conservatism' pointed to the political and philosophical principles upon which the US was constructed and encapsulated in founding documents such as the Declaration of lndependence. Alongside populism, Trump's thinking appears at times to owe a debt to ideas traditionally associated with paleo-conservatism, the 'Alt-Right', and to some degree the white nationalist right.

in The Trump revolt
Abstract only
Edward Ashbee

This chapter considers the shifts and swings amongst voters and suggests that these, alongside ideas about the state and the 'entrepreneurial' efforts of the campaign, form part of the explanation for Donald Trump's eventual victory. Whatever their limits and flaws, the exit polls provide the most helpful starting point for a discussion. The results reveal that the Trump electorate was significantly more male (53 per cent of men supported Trump) than female (42 per cent). More importantly, while some of the figures have been fiercely contested, and although Hillary Clinton won very large majorities amongst the minority electorate, the exit polls suggest some significant swings to the Republicans among minorities when set against the 2012 presidential election. Clinton not only represented 'big government' and the status quo, but also the elites that promoted trade liberalisation, financialisation and the politics of the 'new economy' that had so brutally displaced the old.

in The Trump revolt
Edward Ashbee

Populism has a particular place within the US political tradition. In the post-war period alone, there have been recurrent right-wing populist insurgencies. In the US, right-wing populism has been a recurrent and ingrained feature of the political process over a long period. In particular, the structural characteristics of the contemporary American state, and the ways in which these are perceived and understood by large numbers of people, particularly within the white population, add to and build upon long-held resentments about the legitimate place and efficacy of government. This chapter provides a detailed account of the structural characteristics of the American state that appear to be of particular significance in the shaping of attitudes. The structural characteristics explain why right-wing populism has been a significant and enduring feature of twentieth- and twenty-first century US politics and why populist attitudes can come to the forefront of politics.

in The Trump revolt
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Donald Trump, neoliberalism and political reconfiguration
Edward Ashbee

Studies of the period from the time of the 2008 financial crisis onwards have taken the concept of neoliberalism as their starting point. Although there are definitional problems and the term is less widely used in the US than in Europe, it captures the changes brought from the late 1970s onwards and ways in which the post-war Keynesian settlement was dismantled through deregulation, privatisation and the pulling back of social provision. For decades, neoliberalism has been politically upheld, extended or ameliorated by established 'mainstream' parties. Neoliberalism is being laid low by a conflict-based form of politics that will progressively eradicate old solidarities and pit the 'people' against those who are not within its ranks. 'Trumpism' and European forms of populism are in some ways weakly embedded but they may well exacerbate and intensify the battles and processes of group competition between different constituencies.

in The Trump revolt
Abstract only
Edward Ashbee

This chapter looks at an explanation that can be employed to account for Trump's eventual victory. It assesses Trump's ascendancy as a function of, and reaction to, the strategies and discourses pursued in the years preceding 2016 by Republican Party elites. It may be that Republican elites, through the discourses that they adopted in pursuit of given electoral logics, set off particular sets of reactive sequences that culminated, over time, in the emergence of the Trump campaign. Arguably, Republican members of Congress, those who served in state legislatures, and the party's elites increasingly turned to electoral strategies structured around 'base mobilization'. There was a marked shift rightwards in the composition of the Republican caucus serving in the House of Representatives although the process of change took longer, amongst Republicans in the Senate.

in The Trump revolt
Edward Ashbee

Because of name recognition and his status as a celebrity, Donald Trump had very significant start-up advantages over other 'outsider' candidates such as Dr Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina. At the same time, the votes of those who opposed him were split between rival contenders and Trump was implicitly hailed, despite comments and claims that would have killed off any other candidacy, as a victor with the support of only about a third of the voters. Timing and sequencing and the order in which candidates withdrew from the race then played a part. Even at the end of the campaign, there were chance events that probably further damaged Hillary Clinton's chances of victory. Even if it is assumed that that all the votes would have been given to Clinton had the candidates not stood, analysis suggests it is likely that she would still have lost.

in The Trump revolt