“There is a fundamental error in this thinking. It assumes the results of populist politicking are in fact its sources. Clinton believes she is on to something, but it is offering nothing new. In the past two years accepting the populist version of events and painting the left as out of touch has become a genre of its own, a strain of thought that holds that the success of the immigration rhetoric of populists is organic, inevitable and a “backlash” of some sort, rather than one of several ways that populist politicians build grievance. National populism is thus “unstoppable”, it is the revolt of the “somewheres” against the “anywheres”, “white self-interest”, a “whiteshift”. Clinton’s “beat them at their own game” strategy is the default position on the establishment centre, a capitulation of laziness, defeatism and gullibility.
It also doesn’t work. It is one of the enduring perplexities of centrist politics, one whose adherents attack the left for being unrealistic and unconcerned with electoral victory, that on immigration it has stuck to pandering to xenophobia despite the benefit of that never materialising at the ballot box.
You cannot outflank the right by adopting its promises, that way you only end up as its handmaiden.”