Should Democrats have a “Caucus Room Conspiracy" Just like the GOP?

Donald Trump has promised to "drain the swamp" if elected president - but if his transition team is any indication, he's already swimming in it.

The people Donald Trump has now picked to help him prepare for his move to the White House are the exact same people he railed against his entire campaign.

They're the lobbyists, consultants and DC insiders who he said were ruining the country and needed to put out to be sent packing for good.

They ARE the swamp.

For example, Michael Torrey - the guy Trump has asked to help him put together the new Department of Agriculture - is a big time lobbyist for the soda and dairy industries.

Jeff Eisenach, who's spent years shilling for Verizon and other telecom giants, has been tapped to put together the new FCC.

Michael Catanzaro - an oil and gas lobbyist - is going to help Trump with energy issues.

Mike Ference, who lobbies for Halliburton and Koch Industries, will be right there with him.

And that's just the beginning.

Lobbyists from the tobacco industry, pharmaceutical industry, and chemical industry are also part of Trump's transition team.

This shouldn't surprise anyone.

Trump's rapid transformation from populist crusader against "the DC insider establishment" to supporter of that establishment is a classic example of what I call Mussolini populism.

Mussolini populism - like the fascist movement started by the Italian dictator of the same name - uses fear and hate to manipulate working people into supporting supposedly anti-establishment causes that really just prop up the elites.

It's opposite is what I call Bernie Sanders populism - which doesn't seek to manipulate working people, but instead tries to organize them around fighting for what's best for the country.

What makes Mussolini populism so dangerous is that it pretends to be Bernie Sanders populism.

But people aren't stupid.

Eventually they'll figure out they've been had.

That's whole reason they turned to populism in the first place.

So at what point are the people who voted for Donald Trump thinking they were going to get Bernie Sanders-style populism going realize they've actually gotten Mussolini populism?

And, when that happens, what are they going to do about it?


cccccttttt 7 years 31 weeks ago

Many smart presidents have been rendered "do nothing presidents" because they do not know how to handle congress.

IMO Trump is practical and knows his only hope of reaching some of his objectives is to make deals with the Repubs.

So, what better people to pick?


Tsultrim Melong's picture
Tsultrim Melong 7 years 31 weeks ago

I don't know what motivated the Italians to follow Mussolini, but I think the Trump followers are emotionally disenfranchised. They may also be financially disenfranchised, but I don't think that's the real underlying impetus. I think that right-wing radio and news and social media have whipped up a kind of false insecurity that plays particularly upon men who already feel one-down by lack of education or poor upbringing. It also plays upon women, but more upon the men. I see this as a crisis of individual confidence preyed upon by the far right. As LBJ said, convince the lowest white male he is better than the best black man and he won't notice you're picking his pockets (paraphrasing). I believe the white male who is not involved in Wall Street, the tech industry or other grand, high-earning occupations, is existentially angry and doesn't know why. So, he blames it on anything put into his mind by outside forces. I believe, unless the left can get in and re-educate the populace, these people are lost to us. I believe they will resort to violence first, listening last. I see no hope except efforts like Marshall Rosenburg's Non-Violent Communication on a large scale, or a vast change in demographics rendering this group small enough to be inconsequential. I'm not hopeful.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 30 weeks ago

There is big difference between Obama, Clinton and Sanders VS Trump. What Trump says he is going to do can be achieved. Free masters degrees, free healthcare, and world peace aren't. They will never happen the left pounds 12 to 20 years of propaganda into students to believe it can happen. The best path to a good life is a great economy. Then we can afford all of the above for our children

ikeberltersen's picture
ikeberltersen 7 years 30 weeks ago

Tsultrim - I think your analysis is deeply insightful. Having grown up around these people - working whites at the top of the lower class or just barely into the middle class - I can add this more colloquial take. These are people who made do with their position in society, always with the knowledge that they were not part of the professional or upper class, and many of them did quite well. Many are skilled tradesmen, many used to have good union jobs, some own small business, and many participate in the cash only underground economy in addition to their hourly jobs.

One thing most of them believe is that, in the framework of their world, they can do what they want. Out here in the sticks, doing what they want means shooting their guns for hours at at time, open burning their trash, driving gigantic tricked out pickup trucks and generally treating the environment like crap. They chafe at any restrictions imposed on them. My neighbor down the road was towing junk cars to his place, dismantling them and selling them for parts. Some of us had to go to the county government and get him to stop because he did not have and could not get a permit for this. His attitude was 'how can they tell me what to do on my property?' Now they are seeing through the fog something that scares them to the bone - that the neoliberal economy basically views them as no different than the uneducated nonwhite people at the bottom of the heap. The one thing that comforted them was the knowledge that there were people who by dint of their ethnicity were lower on the economic rung. Now they see themselves slipping into the abyss.

It does no good to call these people racist because that is not the whole story. Yes some are openly racist but most are resentful and this resentment was exploited by Mr. Trump, who has goaded them into an ongoing temper tantrum. Many of them could have been reached by a true populist like Bernie Sanders, but that ship has sailed. If they could have been reached they could have been reasoned with. They are not all bad people. They saw a choice between a candidate who will shake things up and a candidate who they viewed as part of the elite that doesn't give a damn about them.

mckinneywrites 7 years 30 weeks ago

Well said. Yes, many of us aren't surprised, but we are increasingly disgusted. The writing, in bold capital letters, has been on the wall for sometime. It's still mystifying how such a large segment of Americans bought as gospel what Trump peddled from his sideshow tent. So you all wanted an outsider? You picked the wrong guy. As Thom says, Bernie Sanders was our answer. As Trump signs up increasingly creepy ultra insider conservatives to his transition team, can you read the writing now? There's a reason Trump and so many indifferent conversative operatives continue to treat the American masses like imbeciles. The people let them. As Thom in effect asks, are you feeling buyer's remorse yet?

nimblecivet 7 years 30 weeks ago

Drain the swamp! We can argue about who's a fascist later.

nimblecivet 7 years 30 weeks ago

Buy soda from Mexico it doesn't have high fructose corn syrup.

Bill D's picture
Bill D 7 years 30 weeks ago

Recently on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC Rachel pointed out that Russian diplomats claimed that they were in touch with Trump and his organization all through the election campaign. Seems to be a major security risk if it's true? Does anyone know if the FBI is investigating Trump on this issue?

THAGOODSPORT 7 years 30 weeks ago

How many laws does Trump have to break before some one gets the balls to prosecute this guy? Then there is the election fraud in all the swing states yet again and we get the Democrats saying we lost its our fault! Doesn't anyone have some self respect out there?

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 30 weeks ago

So much for the Giuliani and Comey scandal...not a word anymore. ISIS, Russia, and the wiki jerk all thank them.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 30 weeks ago

THAGOODSPORT: everyone is afraid to talk about the election fraud because it will lead to complete chaos if the general public hears the truth that Clinton really won by an electoral landslide...not to mention popular vote. But complete chaos is what we are headed for anyway.

Legend 7 years 30 weeks ago

How can anybody possibly predict what Trump will do when he lied 91% of the time. I think that he will be molded by Ryan and McConnell, but that is a guess.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 30 weeks ago

Every time Democratic legislation that favored the 99% got killed by the Teapublican controlled House and Senate the last two years Obama should have called a press conference and used his bully pulpit it to inform the citzens about this obstruction...every time...but he didn't.

But guess who will manipulate the press 24/7 with lies about Democrats blocking so called "good for the people" Teapublican legislation, making it sound like the Democrats aren't doing their job, and thus screwing Merica????...and guess who will believe all of these broadcasts by Fox News , ABC, CBS, and NBC????

These networks are the reason the same angry people continually vote for those who are making them angry???

I wonder how long ot will take Wall Street to figure out the country is heading for endless violence and an exteme economic upheaval?...not to mention full blown war with Iran, the war that will finally bankrupt us for good.

Chaos77's picture
Chaos77 7 years 30 weeks ago

You say "And, when that happens, what are they going to do about it?" I say, they will do nothing. Just like they did in this election cycle forgetting that the Republicans obstructed anything and everything Obama could possibly do to help them. For eight years they obstructed. And what did the Republican base do? They voted the Republicans back in. These are people who vote against their own best interests as far as I can tell.

ginico55's picture
ginico55 7 years 30 weeks ago

But a good economy doesn't happen when all of the wealth is filtered to the top! 180 tax incentives for the top .1 of 1% of the population found by Simpson/Bowels. Alan Simpson said people would be amazed at what they are able to deduct. And what happened after this was brought to the attention of Congress early in the Obama's 1st. administration, nothing because of that fateful pact made at the secret meeting with Frank Luntz in the Caucus Room. If the Republicans modified the tax code and the economy got better, Obama would get credit. And so here we are again . . . should the dems do the same thing, or let the Republicans have free reign. I say, let them have free rein and finally hang themselves. Let the people find out what Supply Side Economics REALLY does! Then and only then can the Republicans tuck in their tails and run and the Dems can come in and clean up their mess once again.

ajackson23's picture
ajackson23 7 years 30 weeks ago

The last Progressive Radio in Wisconsin is no more: 92.1 The Mic is now 92.1 The Best. I started listening to Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, Randy Rhodes and Bill Press 15years ago when, I believe, it was still Air America. I was driving to work at 4:00am in the morning when I found Thom Hartmann. I listened to Bernie Sanders every Friday. This was where I, at the age of 48, first started learning about politics and what Progressive politics meant. I was raised a Goldwater Republican and was ignorant of politics for most of my adult life. If The Mic, in the heartland of Progressive Wisconsin, can be bought out, then everyone better realize how, now, even mainstream radio is dead. I thought that our main problem as Progressives was to learn how to communicate with the likes of rural Wisconsin. The take over of our country is almost complete except for within our hearts. I must believe that there is a spirit alive within us transcending the physical boundaries of our lives, connecting us to each other and that the good within all of us will somehow prevail.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 7 years 30 weeks ago

I love the title of this thread. Although a part time listener, I have listened to Thom rehash the Caucus Room conspiracy at least a hundred times over the last eight years. It always begins with, "while Louise and I were dancing at the inaugural ball". As he reads the names of the attendees, his voice would rise and begin to shake. He loudly condemned the event as treasonous and the participants should be prosecuted.

If that action was treasonous as he suggested, is not his support for the exact same response to a Trump presidency any different?

How ironic Thoms words continue to be when speaking to a president elect Trump "he will not be MY president"

I suggest the progressives greatest fear is that Trump will be wildly successful.

Small mined people on the right and left leave me in awe.

metalpipe's picture
metalpipe 7 years 30 weeks ago

All of Trump's appeal will look rather thin in short order. He is already surrounding himself with some of the lowest forms of life on the planet. Looks like your 'great economy' will be built with telecom monopolies, eternal petro-chemical dominance, and the ultimate and expedited destruction of all aspects of the environment you, I, and our children need to live in. Add an exponential growth of our 'for profit' prison systems, the inevitable back alley abortions that will follow reversal of Roe vs. Wade, and the continued seperation of those able to afford a college education and those who can not (regardless of their intellectual potential) and you have what those of us who can 'think' and 'chew' at the same time knew from the beginning. Trump represents the straw that breaks this planet's back. Good luck finding (and keeping) a decent paying job Kend.

ErinRose's picture
ErinRose 7 years 30 weeks ago

Donald Trump is doing exactly what Barack Obama did: Promised all sorts of We, the People, friendly messages and things, then once elected, is all over the field promising XYZ but then back-peddling on it and every issue until everyone is totally confused as to what he is really all about. If he follows this Obama pattern, the next thing is to start implementing some of our worst fears come true, but occasionally doing something (crumbs from the table) that will make the citizenry happy in general. The big issues, no matter how unpopular, but those that serve the elite, he will put into place.

This makes DJT no different from Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama/ or what HRC would have done. It is obvious that DJT is being coached and handled from above. DJT has traditionally only been interested in the money. I guess they promised to make him excessively rich if he goes along with their agenda. But I don't think we are going to see the maverick we saw on the campaign trail in the coming months, and possibly years.

I would also say, that any political figure of great importance in modern times who has tried to benefit the common citizen has been assassinated: JFK, RFK, MLK, M-X. These are the sacrificial lambs who died for our sins (just like JC, another sacrificial lamb.) It could be, if Trump tries to break rank and run his own people friendly agenda, he will face the wrath of the powers that be (or HRC, should DJT actually imprison her; did we not see an attempt by HRC stop the WikiLeaks dumps with the man climbing the Ecuadorian Embassey wall?)

However, the truth of DJT is in his choice of VP (Pence; an attorney, a FAR Right Tea Partyier, birther, and Christian Fundamentalist, who is pro TPP, pro NDPL, pro anti-abortion, pro police state, pro corptocracy, etc.,) and now his cabinet. Who Trump is surrounding himself with pretty much says it all. Our only relief will come in the Mid-Terms if a truly Progressive Congress is put in place to slow down the devastation.

ErinRose's picture
ErinRose 7 years 30 weeks ago

#Dianereynolds: I'm having trouble with your conclusion that people would be upset if Trump were wildly successful. Why would that be? The only reason for upset would be if Trump's wildly successfulness pivots around an agenda guaranteed to do irreparable damage to the environment or take us deeper and deeper into the New World Order. You have to be out of your mind to want either and all that it stands for; pure insanity on the part of short-sighted, conscienciousless zombies.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 7 years 30 weeks ago

Erin: I did not say people would be upset, I said progressives would be upset. There is a big difference. As Thom said yesterday, "I do not want Trump to be successful" or words to that same end. That perfectly sums up the attitude of those on the far extremes of either party.'s picture
cazzy_80403@yah... 7 years 30 weeks ago

How can the Democrats get their message out when media outlets ignore them? TV commercials all year not just during election season. Each representative should create a weekly 60 second commercial that will play during the week on local TV during prime-time. Call it Washington Catch-up. They should use this 60 seconds to let their constituents know what they accomplished and what the Republicans attempted to take away from the 99% or give to the 1%. Make it positive and personal to their constituents. They should also have monthly, well publicized town halls with all their constituents. Getting the word to the voters should not just occur during elections.

bobcix's picture
bobcix 7 years 30 weeks ago

Definitely! Then after two weeks of getting notherin done, suggest a meeting to change the rules of the House and Senate. Maybe we can get some sensible laws enacted, such as an increase in taxes back to the Eisenhower dayks.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Never one to shy away from the truth, Thom Hartmann’s collected works are inspiring, wise, and compelling. His work lights the way to a better America."
Van Jones, cofounder of and author of The Green Collar Economy
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom Hartmann is a literary descendent of Ben Franklin and Tom Paine. His unflinching observations and deep passion inspire us to explore contemporary culture, politics, and economics; challenge us to face the facts of the societies we are creating; and empower us to demand a better world for our children and grandchildren."
John Perkins, author of the New York Times bestselling book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
From Cracking the Code:
"No one communicates more thoughtfully or effectively on the radio airwaves than Thom Hartmann. He gets inside the arguments and helps people to think them through—to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."