“I have visited the laid-off factory workers, and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals. These are the forgotten men and women of our country.”
— Donald Trump, July 21, 2016
This year’s Republican presidential nominee is not the first politician to utter the phrase “forgotten man.” The term has periodically surfaced since the late 19th century, when voters learned that the forgotten man opposed the Dingley Tariff. Yet it still resonates today. Two years ago Sarah Palin told the Western Conservative Summit that “what the forgotten man has is belief in this exceptional nation.”
But what do politicians mean by the forgotten man? Two opposing definitions predominate. Which of these Mr. Trump chooses will tell us the kind of president he might make.
The forgotten man emerged in the 1880s in the lectures of a Yale professor named William Graham Sumner.