Why Trumpism is here to stay
Ask a suburban woman who voted for Joe Biden why she did not support Donald Trump, and you will likely get an answer about how the president is not a role model to her children or how “words matter” and his rhetoric is detrimental to our national discourse. What you will likely not get is an answer about the economic ideas or international affairs.
If Biden is inaugurated two months from now, it will not be because the agenda of the incumbent is unpopular. Most Americans have benefited from the policies of Trump. Only weeks before the election, over half of voters declared they were better off than they were four years ago. That figure is higher than in 1984, 1992, 2004, and 2012 when the incumbent president ran for a second term. It is not hard to see why.
Under Trump, the average household saved $1,600 each year thanks to tax cuts. Black and Hispanic Americans saw record low unemployment. There is a chance for peace in the Middle East thanks to an unorthodox deal brokered by the administration. Broad criminal justice reform gave thousands of the incarcerated a new lease on life. Manufacturing came roaring back in the United States. A coronavirus vaccine is now getting developed swiftly due in part to Operation Warp Speed.
Though most have benefited from his policies, white voters with college degrees, and many others, were weary of his bombastic personality and endless tweetstorms. After four years of the media sending viewers into frenzies over his rhetoric and some real mistakes by the president, many moderate and even right of center voters had their fill. Thus, Biden won the 72 percent of voters who said they “wanted a uniter.”
But Republicans still made strong gains in the election that will hinder the ability for Biden, Kamala Harris, and Nancy Pelosi to steer the federal ship. The final tallies are not out, but the House and Senate results indicate that hundreds of thousands of Americans voted against Trump but also for the Republicans who backed his policies on down ballot races. This indicates that many voters back his agenda but not Trump himself.
Voters may have rejected Trump in the election but they also repudiated the liberal agenda. This could bolster Republicans and the faction inside the party that supports the president in the future. His weaknesses may leave the stage, but the coalition he has built stands ready to thrive. His famous “Make America Great Again” platform proved to be remarkably popular well outside the traditional white working class.
Just think that Trump won Native Americans, increased his share of Black and Latino voters, and even raised his support in the gay and transgender community. When you combine his populist policies of tax cuts, domestic manufacturing, strict immigration reforms, and little foreign intervention, then take out his character, you get a majority of voters.
Imagine a Republican with the positions of Trump but without the tabloid baggage. Imagine a Republican who challenges the biased media without sparking the bandwagon effect of suburban voters eager to show national disapproval of his latest action. If the party ran “America First” candidates who can tout the success of the platform, the landscape will surely tilt in their favor in 2024. They could cement recent gains with minority voters and take back some white voters with college degrees.
The constant media attacks over his demeanor had an effect in 2020. But the political environment will be starkly different in four years. Harris will likely be the Democratic candidate, and a strong Trump faction would be in a position to take back the White House. With a candidate of the same platform and instincts, but without the same character, Republicans can win big in 2024. Further, Harris holds the makings of Hillary Clinton since she is less likeable and almost as conniving and phony.
Remember that the chances of Ronald Reagan becoming president back in 1980 seemed impossible. In many ways, the influence of Trump could mirror that of Barry Goldwater, who had never reached the White House. Goldwater and his brand of libertarian conservatism fueled the national political career of Reagan and started decades of Republican orthodoxy. Trump has now transformed the party identity, the presidency itself, and hundreds of federal judges will continue his legacy. All of this could shift voters toward Republican candidates for a generation.
Kristin Tate is a libertarian author and an analyst for Young Americans for Liberty. She is a Robert Novak journalism fellow at the Fund for American Studies. Her newest book is “The Liberal Invasion of Red State America.”
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