As Amity Shlaes shows in her 2008 book The Forgotten Man, that term, which Franklin Roosevelt applied to the man on the breadline in the Great Depression, “the man at the bottom of the economic pyramid,” more properly applies to those unhappy-if-silent taxpayers who funded the New Deal’s social-welfare schemes. And these are the forerunners of the Tea Partiers, another key class of Trump voter: the widow on a fixed income whose property-tax payment helps house a public-sector retiree comfortably but whose inexorable rise is making her own paid-off home unaffordable; the retiree whose IRA savings the Great Recession eroded or who can no longer get an adequate income from safe bond investments, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s policies; the small businessman or farmer ruined by undemocratic government regulation lacking even the pretense of due process; the ex-soldier abandoned by a dysfunctional Veterans Administration; the parent disgusted with public schools that impose ideologies she abhors on her children, while leaving them inadequately educated; and all those sincere believers in God or traditional values whom Obama dismissed as clinging desperately to outmoded pieties, as the arc of history, which the elite professor-president claimed to understand and direct according to his politically correct enlightenment, swirled them down the drain.
The Tea Partiers wanted a second American Revolution that would sweep away the Administrative State that the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the War on Poverty set loose to devour and fatten on the carcass of the Founders’ republic, replacing a government of limited and enumerated powers with an unlimited government that rules by administrative decree and redistributes wealth as if it belonged to the governors and not the governed. No wonder Obama’s Internal Revenue Service worked to squash that movement as tyrannically as George III’s tax collectors. Let’s see if the new revolutionaries picked a leader who knows what they want and how to get it.