“The King is Dead, Long Live the King.”
A great paradox is the 2016 Election — it both elected one of the most improbable outsiders in history to the highest office of the land while retaining a party in power whose popularity was sufficiently damaged that this man, President-elect Donald Trump, was able to engineer what amounts to a hostile takeover.
The Republicans now control both the executive and legislative branches of government, guaranteeing the judiciary will follow in short order, but have a very real question which will only resolve itself in the next two years about what it means to be a Republican in the Age of Trump.
Traditional Republican Orthodoxy included such tenets as open borders to maximize free market trading, opposition toward government spending on domestic development, and recently a hawkish interventionist view toward foreign affairs, especially in the ever contentious Middle East. By contrast, Trump has openly espoused the possibility of using tariffs to rekindle American manufacturing, is pushing for a major infrastructure upgrade, and seeks to limit our foot print abroad while working with new partners such as Russia to resolve international crises.
Trump has his mandate not just in winning this election, but more importantly in how he won. Taking Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (and almost even Minnesota) reveals a profound demographic sea change in America. Although Hillary did not succeed in these places, it’s worth noting how Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado all moved her direction. Assuming the Democrats will continue working there to maximize their election using the sort of minority identity politics they have come to rely upon, the Republican Party of the future is likely to be a South/Midwest/Plains alliance of working people, both business and labor, and needs to govern accordingly.
This means the GOP needs to remember the days of open borders orthodoxy are at an end. It does America no good to improve the standard of living in a Third World Country by a few cents to have a slightly cheaper good from Amazon or Walmart if the cost is our nation having another good paying job lost. The presumed cost savings on those products does not equate to the damage to our communities, our working families, and the burden placed on our already overextended social welfare system.
Prices may rise in result. But Americans will be making more, and start buying products stamped “Made in the USA” again as Trump has pledged. More families will have disposable income, pride and a sense of worth, and you can even begin to realize the shared GOP goal of tax reduction once you begin removing the millions of permanently unemployed from the rolls, those who have been out of work or underemployed for more than six months and who are forgotten.
Trump has pledged the forgotten man will be forgotten no more, and a successful GOP needs to remember these people too. They spent too long serving the interests of their donor class, a crime to which both major political parties are guilty, but only the Republicans have had their sentences withheld. Trump understands this intuitively, and if the Ryan crowd doesn’t learn now, they will most assuredly and painfully be reminded in 2018 as the clock is already ticking.
A brave new GOP awaits to deal with many issues, but consonant with the America First platform, none is more important than being the party of all those who work, the business owner and the laborer, understanding that in this global economy, we all need to be on the same national team to compete together.
Follow @tomkawczynski on Twitter, Gab, and here at The Beltway Times