When talking about the “establishment” that Trump and Bannon have targeted, it’s important to distinguish between people and institutions.
The Trump-Bannon brand of “anti-establishment” politics isn’t an attack on the people who inhabit the American establishment.
Quite the contrary: Trump has filled his administration with billionaires, CEOs, and Wall Street moguls. And he's thrown ethics out the window. There’s no longer any clear line between family business and national business. Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner – owners of a vast a real estate and investment empire worth as much as $740 million and now among the most senior federal government officials – have in recent weeks hosted, alongside Trump, chief executives of the world’s largest automobile, airline, chemical, pharmaceutical and tech companies.
Trump’s and Bannon’s “anti-establishment” politics is instead an attack on the core institutions of American society: an independent and free press, the courts, science, freedom of religion, and free and fair elections untainted by foreign influence.
This is upside-down populism.
It’s crucial that we preserve and protect these core institutions -- which since the founding of the republic have been our only real hope of constraining oligarchic control of America.
The biggest danger to these democratic institutions is the big money, financial conflicts of interest, corruption, and ethical carelessness Trump is blatantly encouraging.
|Al Drago/The New York Times|
By Eric Lipton and Jesse Drucker