Monday, December 07, 2015

The GOP Adds Class Warfare to the Mix

Other than bellicose demagoguery that has played to the religious extremism and racism that now defines much of the Republican Party base, for at least the last five years, the GOP has offered little to its rabid grassroots base.  No alternative to Obamacare has been offered, no plan to rebuild the nation's infrastructure has been unveiled, and other than warmed over trickle down economics from the 1980's no proposals have been offered to address the stagnation and/or decline in working class wages even as the wealthy has seen their incomes skyrocket.  A piece in the Washington Post suggests that the GOP's failure to deliver anything for the non-wealthy is in large part the cause of Donald Trump's popularity.  Here are column highlights:
Trump, the billionaire, is the GOP’s working-class hero.

Among Republicans without college degrees, Trump had 46 percent to 12 percent for Cruz, 11 percent for Carson and 8 percent for Rubio. But Republicans with college degrees split very differently: Cruz 22 percent, Carson and Rubio tied at 19 percent, and Trump at 18 percent. This 28-point gap in Trump’s support tells an important story: Republicans may condemn class warfare, but their presidential contest has taken on all the characteristics of a class war.

But Trump’s enduring strength among the most disheartened members of his party — and the divided loyalties of upscale Republicans — suggests that it is wishful thinking for the Republican powers that be to say they are sure he will never be nominated.
But the most striking aspect of Ryan’s speech is that for all its emphasis on progressives relying on old ideas (they “are stuck in the past,” he said) and conservatives supposedly being more in tune with changing times, his arguments were rooted in the nostrums Washington Republicans have been offering for decades. The angry Republican working class rallying to Trump to express its disillusionment with the status quo will find little in Ryan’s homily to make it reconsider.

Republicans are having trouble taking on Trump not only because they welcomed his support in the past and not only because they have often embraced (in a less colorful and direct way) many of the themes he is accenting, but also because they have delivered next to nothing to their loyal white, working-class supporters.

Many of the Trumpians are inclined to blame the troubles they are experiencing on immigration and on those they see as mooching on public assistance. The country’s changing demography angers and frightens many in their ranks.

But how long does Trump have to stay at No. 1 in the Republican polls before establishmentarians in both parties recognize that the underlying economic causes of his supporters’ discontent are legitimate and deserve a response?

The class war is on the GOP’s doorstep, and the party — including Ryan — simply doesn’t know what to do.

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