Trump Riding Populist Sentiment with Promise to Bring Back American Jobs

Populism has been one of the most versatile political positions for more than 2,000 years. In simple terms, it holds the view that the common citizens are suffering from exploitation, mistreatment or abuse meted out by an elite group. The elites are viewed as using immoral or illegal methods to trample on the values, rights and economic security of the masses, but populists assert that the elite can be usurped if citizens become aware of the danger posed by them and are willing to work together to bring about their downfall.

The populist message frequently finds great appeal among the common citizens, and its appeal does not rely on the political system that is in place. Populism has flourished under democracies, monarchies, dictatorships, communist regimes and socialist governments. In the United States, populism can span all political parties, including the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Independent and Socialist parties. Nevertheless, it is somewhat unusual to find a presidential candidate who has amassed a fortune of several billion dollars riding a populist wave to the degree that Donald Trump is doing with his promise to bring back American jobs.

Why Trump’s Promise to Restore American Jobs Resonates with the Populists

The financial crisis of 2008 was the worst economic crisis in America since the Great Depression. As an article in Forbes points out, there were numerous causes related to the crisis, including the push for short-term profits in the private lending sector and the collapse of the housing market in 2007. Homeowners found themselves owing significantly more on their homes than the current value of their properties.

The crisis spread to Wall Street, and declining stock prices eroded economic security even more by undermining investments that people had made as part of their retirement planning. The impact on the banking industry led to a reduction in available credit for businesses as well as individuals. Many companies suspended or canceled expansions, closed plants, furloughed workers or reduced benefits, and unemployment rates soared along with foreclosure rates and bankruptcies.

Many Americans lost their homes, their jobs, their savings and their retirement funds. The economic impact was severe enough, but when the government began bailing out large banks and massive corporations, many Americans felt that insult had been added to injury. The majority blamed greed for most of the problems — the greed of corporations, banks, investment firms and the wealthy elite. As unemployment rates continued to rise, much of the blame was shifted to corporations that had outsourced jobs, hired illegal immigrants, eliminated pensions or closed the least profitable plants to cut expenses.

Trump’s Plan to Restore Jobs

Trump holds the view that the nation’s lost jobs are due to two primary factors: unbalanced trade agreements and illegal immigration. According to a position statement posted on the website of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., he wants to have China declared a currency manipulator to force it to the negotiating table. He calls for an end to the illegal export subsidies that he feels China practices and urges a zero-tolerance policy on copyright, trademark and intellectual property violations committed by the Chinese. He wants American military forces appropriately deployed in the China Sea to strengthen the United States’ position when it starts negotiating a new trade agreement with China.

Trump has also taken aim at Mexico. According to an article in the Washington Post, he wants to construct a massive wall along the border between Mexico and the United States, and he wants to deport an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S. In addition, Reuters reported that in June 2016, Trump vowed that he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada; should they be unwilling to amend the agreement, he states that he would notify them that the United States “intends to withdraw” from the pact.

The issue of tariffs is another topic on which Trump has been vocal. For example, in an article appearing on, Trump is quoted as saying that he wants to levy a tax on cars manufactured in Mexico or China that are imported into the United States. His goal is to encourage manufacturers to keep jobs in America by offsetting the savings they realize when they establish plants in countries with substantially lower wages.

Will Trump’s Plan Restore American Jobs?

The plans that Donald Trump has announced have been met with both support and criticism, and it is impossible to quantify the potential tangible and intangible costs or benefits. Economic issues are rarely straightforward, especially in a world in which national economies are becoming increasingly intertwined. One fact remains, however, and that is that Trump’s words are resonating with many Americans who are disillusioned with the nation’s politicians and are considering whether a political outsider such as Trump might be able to effect true change. If you would like to learn more about Trump’s promise to restore American jobs, go to

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