Donald Trump has always framed his candidacy as providing the average American with an opportunity to vote for an outsider, someone not already part of the traditional political machine. Immediately following Brexit, we asked whether or not this was Trump's opportunity to seize the momentum and use the referendum result as an example of what can be done if the people stand up against the global elites.
It turned out that Trump wasted no time in making sure that the people of America understood that what had been done in the UK can be done in the United States.
Recall from Trump's statement immediately following Brexit:
Statement Regarding British Referendum on E.U. Membership
The people of the United Kingdom have exercised the sacred right of all free peoples. They have declared their independence from the European Union, and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy. A Trump Administration pledges to strengthen our ties with a free and independent Britain, deepening our bonds in commerce, culture and mutual defense. The whole world is more peaceful and stable when our two countries – and our two peoples – are united together, as they will be under a Trump Administration.
Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first. They will have the chance to reject today’s rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people. I hope America is watching, it will soon be time to believe in America again.
We were curious as to how framing the debate as a fight against the elites would play out for Trump, but if the first Rasmussen poll after the Brexit result is any indication, the tide could be turning for Trump. As we reported, Trump jumped out to a four point lead over Hillary Clinton in the latest Rasmussen poll last week, after being behind prior to that.
Of course none of this has been lost on The Donald, and as The Hill points out, Trump is ramping up efforts to continue the framing of his candidacy as a fight against the global elite. Trump is stepping up the rhetoric around the economy being rigged by the media and corporate elites, and is folding Hillary Clinton into the mix seamlessly. In some cases, Trump is even putting himself in direct conflict with big business in Washington, something that will presumably only help with the voters looking for a change from the status quo.
As The Hill explains
In a series of economic speeches, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has railed against the forces of globalization, arguing that changes in the economy have betrayed workers and wiped out the middle class.
At the center of the "rigged economy," Trump argues, are "powerful corporations, media elites and political dynasties" and his likely general election opponent, Hillary Clinton.
"Hillary Clinton and her friends in global finance want to scare America into thinking small — and they want to scare the American people out of voting for a better future," Trump said Tuesday in a speech near Pittsburgh.
“I want you to imagine how much better our future can be if we declare independence from the elites who've led us to one financial and foreign policy disaster after another.”
Trump’s rhetoric is unusual for a presumptive Republican nominee for president, placing him in direct conflict with Washington business groups who have traditionally been allies of the GOP.
To be sure, Trump has gotten the attention of those that have been targeted by his speech. Some, such as US Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue, have taken the time to respond directly. In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Donohue said "Let's get one thing straight - ripping up our trade agreements, as presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggests, and raising a tariff wall around the US economy wouldn't bring those jobs home."
Even former George W. Bush administration official Tony Fratto has called Trump's attacks "destructive and wrong-headed", adding "To trash TPP the way he does is really upsetting. He's not serious at all, and he's only interested in selling false promises."
Of course that type of response is exactly what Trump wants, so that the dialogue can be furthered. Trump responded by saying "The US Chamber of Commerce is totally controlled by the special interest groups. They want to have TPP, one of the worst deals, it will be the worst deal since NAFTA."
Trump takes all of the outcry from the establishment and uses it as a way to further drive home his point that the system is rigged and the elites must be defeated in order to change it - an idea that whether or not one likes Donald Trump, is accurate.
"The people who rigged the system are supporting Hillary Clinton because they know as long as she is in charge nothing will ever change. The inner cities will remain poor. The factories will remain closed. The borders will remain open. The special interests will remain firmly in control. I want you to imagine how much better our future can be if we declare independence from the elites who've led us to one financial and foreign policy disaster after another." Trump said.
Rather surprisingly, Trump is even starting to publicly win over some Republicans who have been on the fence about the the GOP candidate for quite some time, such as Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan.
From The Hill
While few other Republicans have used such language, anti-trade sentiment is running high in both parties. Should Trump win the White House on such a message, it could reshape the Republican Party, which has historically supported free trade.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who is reportedly a front-runner to be Trump’s running mate, did an about-face on trade this week, endorsing Trump’s approach.
“I basically agree with Trump’s speech on trade,” Gingrich wrote to Politico.
Meanwhile, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who at first declined to endorse Trump after he won the party's nomination, has become increasingly critical of the TPP, saying it should be renegotiated.
Ryan this week said he’s on the same page with Trump when it comes to trade deals.
"What I have heard from him is that we need to engage, that we need to have very good trade agreements that are good for America. And I agree with that."
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One thing is clear, whether or not everyone will agree with what is said, Trump is at least speaking more directly than most politicians do, and by pointing out the fact that everything is rigged rigged, Trump has struck a common ground with many Americans who struggle each day just to make ends meet. Whether the strategy of fighting back against the political machine will work or not remains to be seen, but to his credit, Trump isn't backing down, even when the establishment unites and tries to fight back.