(UnitedVoice.com) – Prior to 1980, the Democratic Party was thought to be the party of the working man. The GOP was branded as the party of big business and special interests. My, how things changed. In the late 1970s, Ronald Regan began to change the public’s view of the GOP when he surprisingly won the 1980 election in a landslide over then-President Jimmy Carter. It was a long and narrow road for conservatives, who saw themselves lose power from the 1950s onward thanks to the working and middle-class support of the Democratic Party.
As the late 1970s ran rampant with liberalism in the halls of Congress and the presidency, the economy tanked as inflation exploded and gas lines were miles long. America found itself embroiled in a new conflict involving terrorism. Under Ronald Reagan, conservatives showed that their policies could work, and in 1984, Reagan earned another landslide and won in all but one state. It traumatized new Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Steny Hoyer, and Joe Biden. Slowly, over the next forty years, the GOP became the working class’s party – and cemented itself as such under Donald Trump.
Liberals Try to Pry Working Class from GOP
Today, the left is doing all it can to pry the working class away from the GOP, despite its policy failures impacting the middle class intensely over the last thirty years. Liberals argue that populism and conservatism are at odds with one another and that Reagan is rolling over in his grave, but that’s hardly true. In fact, we recently wrote that modern populism is deeply tied to the conservative movement.
How could populism, the working class, and the conservative movement all come together?
Reagan made the case that liberal policies drove the crisis of his time. He said the government is not the solution to our problems. It is the problem. A populist believes in the “rights, wisdom, and virtues of the common people.” It’s as old as America itself, and its roots are deep in the revolutionary war. Reagan’s belief was rooted in the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution. He often said that the individual was more capable of deciding what’s best for him or her than someone sitting in Washington, DC, who is completely disconnected from everyday Americans.
Cement the Working Class Into the GOP
In 2016, Donald Trump tapped into the fears, painful experiences, hopes and dreams of working people whose lives were destroyed by immigration and adverse trade policies, among others. He argued for a common-sense approach to government that put Americans ahead of other countries. Trump’s message resonated, and many working-class Democrats crossed the aisle to vote for him.
Now that Trump isn’t president, what about all those people he inspired?
In a memo written by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), he argued that President Trump gift-wrapped and delivered the working class to the GOP, and the party ought to unwrap his gift and permanently become the party of the working class.
Making his case, he contrasted donation receipts. Trump received nearly 80% of donations from mechanics to Biden’s 21%. Additionally, 60% of small business owners and 59% of custodians supported the former president. However, Biden received the majority of his support from bankers, college professors, and marketing professionals.
Rep. Banks said that both parties were undergoing changes in their bases, and the future looked brighter for the GOP with working-class support. On immigration, trade, culture wars, Made in America and main street politics, the GOP is on solid ground. The GOP’s sweet sauce is in supporting the working-class by championing causes that create more significant work opportunities, small business growth, helping empower their dreams to become realities and protecting them against liberals that would harm them and their families.
It’s a sound strategy at a time when Democrats locked down states for nearly a year, harmed livelihoods, put small businesses at risk and restricted Constitutional liberties. At the same time, Democrats are trying to position themselves as the solution to the problems they created and paint the GOP as outside the norm. Yet, the contrasts now are clear because the Democrats are pushing through radical left-wing proposals on a razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress.
While Democratic elitists drive the working-class away, the GOP has an opportunity to bring even more of them into the fold by embracing the Trump agenda and pursuing common-sense approaches that make people’s lives better.
It worked for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984 and Donald Trump in 2016, and it can work now for the GOP, as well.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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