Monday, October 09, 2023

The Party Is A Fraud

The Republican Party can't do anything right. Ruy Teixeira writes:

What is with the Republican Party? At a moment when they seem to have so much going for them, Republicans again are working overtime to throw it all away.

By the numbers, this should be their moment. President Biden is scraping the proverbial bottom in polls that measure his approval rating. A recent NBC News poll found that voters prefer Republicans to handle the economy by a shocking 21 points, the largest lead for the GOP in over 30 years. Similar margins hold for Republicans on border security (30 points), handling crime (26 points) and immigration (18 points). Democrats have only a 2-point lead over Republicans on “looking out for the middle class” — a measure that has historically yielded double-digit leads for the Democrats.

The party has shifted its appeal to the working class -- particularly under Donald Trump:

Initially, Republicans were able to take advantage of the breakup of postwar Democratic voting blocs by promulgating an anti-welfare, anti-tax agenda that, along with an aggressive cultural conservatism, appealed to many working-class voters.

But that sales pitch will only get you so far:

Working-class voters, as many of their communities continued to deteriorate, lost faith that lower taxes and less government were really the solution to their problems — however much those principles might appeal to business supporters of the GOP. It was Trump’s genius to break with orthodox Republican economics, particularly on trade, entitlements, deficits and corporate priorities. In other words, he leaned into the working-class tilt of the GOP instead of simply exploiting it when it overlapped with standard GOP priorities.

For decades, the Republicans were known as the party of wealth and privilege. The pitch changed, but the policies didn't:

The economy under Trump did perform well until the pandemic hit — better in wage and income terms than it has under Biden — and working-class voters give Trump credit for that. But in terms of policy, he did very little. The big economic policy achievement of his presidency was the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which was unpopular with working-class voters and provided them with little direct benefit.

In part, this reflects the fact that Trump is not interested in policy issues and knows little about them. But it also highlights the lack of unity in Republican ranks about how to appeal to working-class voters. Some Republicans want to stick to traditional GOP approaches (such as cutting taxes on the wealthy); some want to press the accelerator on economic nationalism; some want a pro-worker industrial policy that breaks decisively with the legacy of Reaganism.

But there is no agreement. You can see it in the dueling manifestoes of the Freedom Conservatives and National Conservatives, who disagree about how strong a role government should play in supplementing and regulating the free market. You can see it in the complete lack of a party platform when Trump ran in 2020, which could well be replicated in 2024. And you can see it in the shambolic debates among the Republican presidential candidates that have been held so far this year — and the shenanigans of the Republican House last week, which now have left it leaderless.

The lack of a policy center leads Republicans to over-index on cultural issues, especially anything connected to “wokeness,” to the point where they seem extreme even when Democrats have adopted clearly unpopular positions. That obsessive focus on culture limits Republicans’ ability to capitalize on working-class economic discontent. The culture wars will get you only so far.

Put simply, the party isn't delivering for its voters. Republicans, like their leader, are a massive fraud.

Image: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post


Northern PoV said...

It ain't just the Rethuglicans!

The lack of a policy center leads politicians to over-index on cultural issues...

George Harrison had it right:

"All through the day, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
All through the night, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine"

with 'pronoun prescience' to boot

Owen Gray said...

For over fifty years, a significant number of people have bought the lie that selfishness is a virtue, PoV.

jrkrideau said...

Is there any real difference between the US Republicans and the US Democrats?

Perhaps internally but I really don't care what they do there. Internationally they seem united. A pox on both.

Owen Gray said...

They used to be united internationally, jrk. But since the advent of Trump, I'm not sure they are anymore.

Northern PoV said...

American Foreign Policy

" Internationally they seem united." "I'm not sure they are anymore."

Even 'radical' RFKjr is 100% in the bag for Israel, so it is a pretty united front in that regard. They will all be cheering on Netanyahu's revenge.

Otherwise there is this huge schism:
Demo-rats want war with Russia while the Rethuglicans want war with China.

Owen Gray said...

War is everywhere in the air these days, PoV.