Trump has left Washington, but everyone is still abuzz about the future for the Republican party. What happens after Donald Trump? Will the Republicans be stuck in limbo until Trump says otherwise? Well, year, probably. Trump’s core followers are not typical Republicans, but whatever their politics, they are firmly behind their candidate. As these… Trumpublicans?… pull the Republican party in one direction, old-school Republicans are trying to hold the party somewhere near the center. It took long enough, but “center” Republicans are beginning to get organized, and a few have talked about creating a new party. What’s next for the Republicans, and America’s future elections?
Democrats used to be the party of big government programs, small military budgets, regulation, support of unions, anti-globalization, and anti-outsourcing. Meanwhile, Republicans supported small government, big military, and business. Republicans wanted unfettered capitalism. Republicans said that corporations had the right to work as they liked. That meant few if any tariffs, the ability to move factories wherever they liked (usually to third world countries), and big-time anti-union. Democrats were the guys who opposed offshoring because it would cost American jobs. But now, Republicans… super right-wing Republicans… seem to be mouthing the rhetoric of the Democrats.
If you listen to the “white anger” of the MAGA crowd, you’ll notice that these older, white, (mostly) men, are idealizing a time when labor unions offered high-paying jobs (with benefits) to adults who didn’t have college degrees. The MAGA crowd may have been conservatives or liberals when they were young, but many are old enough to know that it was the Reagan Revolution that killed off unions… starting with the air traffic controllers union.
In 1960, 30% of American workers belonged to a labor union. Unions meant good pay AND benefits. Today just 11% of jobs are union. If we eliminate Government unions, such as postal workers, just 6 percent of private-sector jobs are with a labor union. Not so coincidentally, today’s healthcare crisis is really an insurance crisis. The reason America has so many uninsured workers is closely related to the decline in union jobs, and benefits.
The old Republican party stood strong in ignoring global warming, air pollution, plastic in the environment, the melting of the arctic, and annual fires in California and the Amazon. They did this because the Republican party was synonymous with big oil and petroleum.
Republicans have also stood tall on having a big military. Which is VERY confusing considering the last 50 years of Republican policy. Trump has said that he is 100% against America’s “Forever Wars”, which just happen to be wars in the Middle East. Y’know, that place with all the oil? And the big oil companies have been known for massive donations to Republicans, for which they expect support for… international trade, reduced environmental protection, pro-oil policies, and a large military presence in the Middle East. America’s dependence on Saudi oil is rather connected to our support for nations with massive human rights violations.
Unions? Believe it or not, before WW I, when factories were still o the rise, many Republicans were “progressives”. They believed in civil rights, good working conditions, the right to form unions, voter rights, even the rights of women to vote. Back then, it was the Democrats who mercilessly suppressed voter rights and barely believed in Democracy.
But after Kennedy became President, and the Democrats became the party of human rights, Southern Conservatives left the party in droves. By the time that Ronald Reagan became President, the South became a solid Republican voting bloc. Consider Mitch McConnell. Go back 100 years, and it would have been unthinkable for the Republicans to be led by a conservative from Kentucky. Now a political map of America’s South is almost solidly Republican.
Hmmm… so the Republican party has “flipped” in the past, is it that significant that it is doing a 180 once again? Well, yes it is! By and large, the Reagan Republicans won. Almost all of their policies are now the policies and culture of America. When Bill Clinton became President, his policies were largely a watered-down continuation of Reagan policies. The big difference between the days of Reagan and today is the Cold War. The most important issue of Reagan’s day was the cold war, which is over. (P.S. We won.) But what about the rest of the Reagan Revolution?
The Cold War divided up the whole world between Capitalism (led by America) and Communism (led by the Soviet Union). It was a conflict of militaries and weapons, but it was secondarily an economic conflict. International alliances are key. Under Trump, the New Republicans are not just uninterested in global alliances… military, economic, and environmental… they are actively against them. Reagan wanted to get rid of tariffs. Trump has tariffed our closest allies, and not particularly cared how they reacted to new tariffs.
All of these alliances, with America at the forefront, meant that America was the leader of the world. Apparently, “Make America Great Again”, doesn’t include a day when America is seen as a beacon of Democracy and Hope. There may well be some that agree with Trump on this, but there are a lot of Republicans who will not see this as a positive change.
One of the other major win’s for the Reagan era was the American transition from smokestack to service industry. Reagan wanted the US to lead the world in technology. We would have the most advanced industries with the most educated workforce. Old style factories and industries would be retired. Coal, steel, and factories would be replaced by computers, aerospace, and finance. And that’s what happened. The Republican plan worked.
The New Republicans are a bit too comfortable identifying and ostracizing internal enemies. Don’t think so? Consider the enemies list of the last 4 years: Senator John McCain, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Attorney General Bill Barr, Former Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Senator Liz Cheney…. the list goes on and on. Even his Vice-President, Mike Pence, shouldn’t hold his breath if he expects the nod from Trump for a Presidential run.
Of course, that’s just Trump’s basic, but growing grudge list. What about the goals of MAGA, to “Make America Great Again”? Does that mean roll America back to… 2000? Naaaa… that was after the Clintons, and MAGA seems to have a real hate for the Clintons. Back to 1980? Before Reagan? If the goal of the New Republicans is to roll back the gains of the Old Republicans, how do you do that without a witch-hunt for unrepentant Old Republicans?
It’s this packing of contradictory ideas, and grudges old and new, into a single political party that makes the Trump takeover so questionable. Here’s a thought experiment. Consider Milburn Pennybags. He’s the guy on the Monopoly box with the Top Hat and the handlebar mustache. He’s the image we have of a banker, the guy who owns all of the property. So. Is he a Democrat or a Republican? I think everyone will say, “Banker? Owns a lot of property? Must be Republican!” Or at least he donates to Republicans. But will Mr. Pennybags be happy donating to the new Trump Republican party?
And how about you dear readers? Are you a Democrat? Have recent events made you say, “DAMN! I should switch to the Republican Party?” If you’re a Republican, are you thinking, “I made the right decision!” Most importantly, if you’re an independent… independents are now the majority of voting Americans” are you Planning to lean more towards the Republicans or further away? Tell us what you think!