Remember: Back in 2015, when Donald Trump announced his campaign for president, about one-third of Republicans and Republican-leaners condemned the distribution of wealth in the United States as unjust. Those class-aggrieved Republicans believed that high earners paid too little in tax and wanted taxes on corporations and rich people raised, not cut. Those were the Republicans who rejected Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz—and elevated Trump as the party nominee instead.
Trump voters were more economically pessimistic than other Republicans. They were more racially aggrieved. They identified themselves as people who worked, who were mooched upon from below and exploited from above.
Trump spoke powerfully to those voters. He told them a story about corrupt elites, symbolized first by his Republican rivals, then by Hillary Clinton. He told them that he had gamed the system better than anyone else had. In July 2015, he boasted, “As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” Now Trump was offering to put his hard-won knowledge to work for put-upon voters. He alone would bring class justice to this country, redirecting benefits from the super-rich to deserving people such as themselves. On Fox & Friends that August, he complained about financiers avoiding taxes: “They should be taxed a fair amount of money,” he said. “They’re not paying enough tax.” He committed that when he got hold of power, he would sacrifice his own interests to look out for the people who had trusted him. When he at last delivered a tax plan in 2017, he insisted, “This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing, believe me. This is not good for me … I think my accountants are going crazy right now.”