working-class Republicans in US politics

American journalist Jacob Weisberg has an interesting op-ed in this weekend’s Financial Times. Here are two paragraphs that caught my attention. To place these paragraphs in context, note that working-class Democrats who became Reagan Republicans decades ago are Donald Trump Republicans today.

Working-class Republicans are waking up to the reality that their party does not represent them any more than the Democrats did. On issue after issue, Mr Trump’s supporters are at odds with Republican dogma. They do not support free trade and globalisation. They do not favour tax cuts for the wealthy, or bailouts for banks, or financial deregulation, or the rollback of consumer protections. And, though nationalistic, their families are the ones that paid the human cost for the neoconservative fantasy of bringing democracy to Iraq. ….

In this context, the rise of the Tea Party now appears as a red herring. Rank-and-file Republicans were not dismayed by George W Bush’s failure to shrink their benefits. It was the party’s wealthy elite who were frustrated about that. Working-class Republicans were enraged because they saw the federal government bailing out Wall Street banks instead of ordinary citizens. The Tea Party quickly dissipated into irrelevance because it did not represent the people it claimed to represent.

Jacob Weisberg, “The Republicans face a historic rupture“, Financial Times, 16 April 2016.

Jacob Weisberg (born 1964) is editor-in-chief of Slate Group, and former editor of Slate magazine.


2 Responses to “working-class Republicans in US politics”

  1. Douglas O. Walker says:

    Of course everyone is entitled to their assessment as to why many Republicans are dissatisfied with the Beltway Republicans and why Donald Trump is doing so well in the race for the Republican nomination. Many of the points made by Weisberg are right on, and I broadly agree with them.

    [SNIP — Several paragraphs removed due to excess length.]

    Finally, contrary to what Weisberg implies, the Tea Party, with its emphasis on reducing government spending and regulation and limiting government involvement in health care and other “freebees”, has been very successful at the state and local level. It is one reason why Republicans have done so well in the political process. Since Obama became President, the Democratic Party has lost 13 seats in the Senate and 69 in the House. It has suffered a loss of 11 governorships, 4 state attorneys general, 910 legislative seats, as well as majorities in 30 state legislative chambers. Today, Republicans control the governor’s office and the legislature in 23 states, whereas the Democrats control only seven. Much of this Republican advance is due to the work of the Tea Party and its supporters. There is little reason to believe these gains at the state and local level will be lost in the near future.

    All the so-called Establishment Republicans in Washington need to do to hold off Donald Trump and maintain their (worthless) control of Congress is be willing to fight for their policy agenda with half the enthusiasm of their state and local counterparts. If they did that they might actually regain the respect of their base.

  2. Douglas, in your opinion, does the Tea Party support working class interests? Weisberg answers this in the negative.