Alabama's Roy Moore won by speaking for the middle class — just like Trump

Alabama's Roy Moore won by speaking for the middle class — just like Trump
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According to reports, President Trump went to bed “embarrassed and pissed” after learning that he had backed a loser in Alabama’s Republican Senate primary.

One can hardly blame him. At the urging of Republican wise men (try not to giggle) the president threw all of his substantial influence behind Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore Cruz’s Democratic challenger fundraises off support of Roy Moore Moore digs in amid mounting GOP criticism MORE: He tweeted for him, he held a raucous rally for him in Huntsville on the Friday before the election, he even gave him a nickname, “Big Luther.”

The nickname reminds me of Margaret Thatcher’s arch observation: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

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Still, in a deep red state that the president won by 28 points, where, barring the intervention of venomous fate, the Republican primary is the election that picks the next senator, the candidate Trump backed took a beating. In fact, it wasn’t close.

Judge Roy Moore’s victory in Alabama closely resembled Trump’s own win in November: He was opposed by the Republican establishment and their corporate and D.C. allies, he was the object of scurrilous ad hominem attacks on himself and his family, and he was dramatically outspent. Some sources say the Republican leadership and their friends spent $30 million to Moore’s roughly $2 million. Yet, the race was never really competitive. Moore pulled away from Strange early and never looked back.  

So how did Moore win and what does it mean for the future of the Republican Party? He did what Trump himself did last year: He made the case for a populist-nationalist agenda that respects and protects the middle and working class and that honors this country’s history and her. He did this and the voters of Alabama responded. They didn’t want a D.C. lobbyist like Luther Strange who owed his seat to Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell expects Paul to return to Senate next week Former Hill staff calls for mandatory harassment training Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law MORE, they wanted a homegrown senator loyal to his state and his constituents. It’s really that simple.

Let this serve as a reminder to the president to follow his own political instincts. He listened to the Republican ruling class and got burned. Again. Hopefully now the president knows how voters feel.

Unable to pass any of the legislation they promised this year despite having majorities in both houses of Congress and a Republican president, the Republican establishment finally found an enemy to fight: Judge Roy Moore.

McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund combined with the Chamber of Commerce and others had no problem finding $30 million to blanket Alabama’s airwaves and stuff Alabama’s mailboxes in an effort to defeat grassroots darling Roy Moore.

Country Club Republicans are never so energetic as when they are attacking their own base. Guess what? The base notices — and has found the ability to bite back.

Their inept attempts at the repeal and then after that failed, the so-called “skinny repeal” of ObamaCare were an embarrassment. After even “skinny repeal” failed, McConnell brought up the Graham-Cassidy bill that, while an improvement over the imploding system created by the Affordable Care Act, was nothing more than tinkering around the edges. And that got even fewer votes for that than for his previous attempts.

Repeal of Obama’s government takeover of health care was the Republican Party’s signature issue for past 7.5 years and they were unable to do it what every Republican senator had promised to do.

While the Senate was able to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed, McConnell and co. can only dine out on that for so long. Elected Republicans have rung up a large debt with their voters and so far all they have done is made the minimum payment. Once. Those bills are well past due.

In Alabama the Republican leadership — the ones that are supposed to know so much more than voters — showed yet again that they are paper tigers. Despite vast sums of money and manpower they couldn’t persuade voters.

After the victory, Steve Bannon said:

That’s why this is a populist nationalist conservative revolt. We’re populist because we’re anti-elite, and that’s because the elites in this world are both corrupt and incompetent. We’re nationalist because we’re anti-globalist. We don’t believe in this globalist system that takes power away from people at the local level.”

The message is simple: Stick to the program. Don’t treat workers like commodities and voters like mindless avatars that exist only in a campaign consultant’s turnout model or focus group. As Richard Weaver famously observed, ideas have consequences. That means that conviction politicians can win — and when they win they change country’s trajectory. Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems win from coast to coast Falwell after Gillespie loss: 'DC should annex' Northern Virginia Dems see gains in Virginia's House of Delegates MORE did that. Roy Moore did too. And they both followed the same model.

Will the GOP be the party of the board room or of the middle class?

Both Trump and Moore won by speaking clearly for the middle class.

According to White House sources Moore’s double-digit defeat of Strange “left the president, who cares about winning and being associated with winners, frustrated and sometimes visibly annoyed.” Perhaps he was annoyed because he had ignored his own instincts and backed the anodyne Luther Stranger. If so, it’s time for the president to back candidates like himself: outsiders, truth-tellers, disrupters.

If the GOP is going to be successful — and it can be — it has to be a party of “we.” Democrats are the party of identity politics, the party that divides people based on the crudest factor, the color of their skin. The Republican Party should become an identity politics party too: the American identity. That means restoring the social compact, rebuilding a strong, broad middle class, and restoring social mobility.

Donald Trump might be smarting from an unforced error, but he should see that Moore’s victory is in fact a victory for him and for the agenda that got him elected.

Chris Buskirk is the publisher and editor of American Greatness. He is also the co-host of The Seth & Chris Show on 960 KKNT. Chris is a frequent contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, the PBS Newshour, and Hardball with Chris Matthews and regularly appears on CNN. Along with Seth Leibsohn he is the author of the bookAmerican Greatness: How Conservatism, Inc. Missed the 2016 Election & What the Establishment Needs to Learn.” Connect with Chris on Twitter at @TheChrisBuskirk.