Matt Taibbi writes about a development that illustrates the topsy-turvy nature of current US politics, and that is that Republicans see a future in which they become the champions of the working class, and that this idea is not as outlandish as one might initially think.
A horrifying article appeared in The New York Times last week, entitled “They Want Trump to Make the G.O.P. a Workers’ Party.”
In it, conservative intellectuals say they disavow Donald Trump, but also see in his rise a reason to shift their party’s focus.
The new Republicans would no longer be the party of “business and the privileged,” but the protector of a disenfranchised working class.
All of this soul-searching is happening now because the maniac Trump has hijacked a portion of the Republican base and is driving it off an electoral cliff.
Republican propaganda for decades pushed magical-thinking concepts like “trickle-down economics” that asked lower-income voters to accept present sacrifices for theoretical bigger payoffs down the road.
Until this year, Republican voters mostly bought it. But Trump was their way of telling their leaders they’re done waiting. They want their piece of the pie now, even if it means unleashing the Trumpinator to get it.
He says that the shift away from Democrats has been going on over the past few decades but the reasons have been wrongly diagnosed.
Basically, large numbers of working-class voters, particularly white working-class voters, long ago abandoned the Democratic Party in favor of the Republicans.
People have been conscious of the defection of working-class voters to the Republican Party for years, but this has always been dismissed as the consequence of skillfull propaganda. It’s the What’s the Matter With Kansas? creation story, i.e., that the white working class has been hoodwinked into going against its own economic interests thanks to cynical/backward appeals to race, religion and culture.
Taibbi argues that the Democratic embrace of globalism and ‘free’ trade’ was actually the cause of this shift of allegiances by the American working class that made the rise of the “unabashed nativist” Donald Trump possible.
If we’re going to be honest about what’s happened in the last 30 or 40 years, the new iteration of the Democratic Party has embraced hocus-pocus neoliberal theory that is not much different from trickle-down economics.
The Democratic Party leaders have been fervent believers in the globalization religion since the late Eighties, when the braintrust at the Democratic Leadership Council made a calculated decision to transform the party from one that depended largely on unions for financial and logistical support to one that embraced corporate objectives, in particular free trade.
However, even in the highly unlikely event that the Republicans manage to rebrand themselves as the party of the working class, the love affair will not last long since the Republicans are as much committed to pursuing the interests of the global elite as the Democrats.
The question is what the working class will do and where they will go when they realize that they have been orphaned by both parties. Taibbi is gloomy about the prospect, saying “And maybe the next strongman those voters pick to lead them out of the wilderness won’t be quite as huge an idiot, or as suicidal a campaigner, as Trump. Sooner or later, failing to deal with these questions is going to come back and bite all of us.”