“Get a job, you racists, and stop playing the victim! Don’t you remember the ’80s?”
Does that sound like a successful political program to you? Does it sound like an adequate response when perhaps one-fourth or more of your party’s voters are staging a minor revolt? Of course not. And yet, that is effectively the message the Republican elite is delivering to Donald Trump’s disaffected white working-class supporters.
I recently suggested that the Republican Party, and the conservative movement, offer next to nothing to working-class Trump supporters. There are no obvious conservative policies that will generate the sort of growth needed to raise the standard of living for these working-class voters. Instead, the GOP’s Powers That Be make a great show of obedience and deference to the center-right donor class, even when that donor class’ preferred policies — endless war, unlimited immigration, and slashing tax burdens on the wealthy — have almost no relation to conservative ideas or even popular opinion.
I’m naturally tempted to go beyond the facts and wonder whether the Hardhat Republican has figured out that when automation digs way deeper, those who still have jobs will be paying for the sustenance and social services for the no-longer-needed “unlimited immigration,” not the stockholders in the companies that secured their arrival.
Aw, maybe they haven’t sensed that yet, but you never know.
Reihan Salam recently noted that the American political class seemed blind to the effects of globalization on its working population More.
They’re not blind. They just don’t care. All the GOP is offering its working class supporters is the fact that, by and large, it doesn’t actually hate the working class. Progressives often do hate (or it seems that way) people who don’t need them to run their lives.
Reality check: It’s rare for a conservative to actually “get it” like this. The fact that these pundits feel they can lecture their struggling base—playing into the most “distanced” stereotypes—IS the problem.
The base has no reason to vote conservative now. They may as well vote to punish their enemies, as the current US Prez puts it. They can’t save their country, but they can still see to it that the GOP that betrays them does not get to both benefit and laugh at them at the same time.
We are in for historic change if the GOP is prepared to go under rather than see that. On the other hand, we may be nearing the end of the era of meaningful democratic politics anyway. If so, the party elite’s approach makes a lot of sense. Justice Scalia’s recent death offers an opportunity to strip the Constitution of meaningful protections of civil liberties.
It’s a good moment for elites: For growing numbers of non-elite people, liberty means free pot and consensual euthanasia, not freedom of the media or of religion.
Will the Canadian conservative movement head in the same direction? Perhaps readers will offer thoughts; I haven’t been able to keep up.
See also: Our American friend on last night in New Hampshire