Michael Brendan Dougherty has a new article on the “Trumpism After Trump” or “Trumpism Without Trump” debate that has been going on within the mainstream Right which is trying to figure out a way to hold on to Donald Trump’s voters in order to sustain conservatism.
“Will Trumpism survive President Donald Trump? For many observers, the answer is obvious: no. Trumpism is about Donald Trump, and only Donald Trump, and it has no substance beyond that. It is a rhetoric and an affect, in service to him, and that’s on its best days. On most others, it is a gibbering cult and series of baroque conspiracy theories. Trumpism is just is a giant sucking sound around the black hole of the man’s own vanity. It will eventually disappear, as he has, up his own backside.
I’m going to address all of his major points:
1.) “Five years ago, I predicted that Trump would probably damage — perhaps irretrievably — the populist and nationalist causes he championed in the GOP. And he has roughly followed the script I laid out.”
True. I had a lot of fun trolling Dougherty on Twitter back during the 2016 campaign and he ultimately blocked me. There were a lot of people at the time who pointed out that Donald Trump’s character was severely flawed and that he wasn’t qualified to be president. Marco Rubio said that he was a con artist. They were proven right by subsequent events.
2.) “To understand whether Trumpism has a future in the Republican Party, it’s important to consider “Trumpism before Trump.” It has been tempting to view Trumpism as a minor and electorally inert heresy. It has never had any real champions in the Senate. The giant phalanx of conservative institutions — think tanks, party leaders, and media outlets — were against Trumpism.”
How could Trumpism not have a future in the Republican Party?
The latest NBC poll shows that his approval rating has bounced back to 43%. 9 out of 10 Republicans approve of his performance. 98% of Trump First Republicans approve of him. As with Charlottesville, Trump’s poll numbers are already bouncing back after the Capitol Siege. The Pew poll which shows his approval rating dropping to 29% captured a mood. There is no evidence that anyone has changed their ideological views. Never Trumpers have simply come out of the closet. Donald Trump’s supporters were willing to die for him. Is anyone willing to die for Mitt Romney or Liz Cheney?
Trumpism is now a bigger problem for the Republican Party than it was in 2016 or 2020. The office of the presidency no longer tethers Donald Trump to the Republican Party. Even if he is convicted by the Senate, it doesn’t mean he is going to go away. Also, Trump’s voters overwhelmingly oppose convicting him and would vote to renominate him in 2024. Punished Donald is no longer on the GOP plantation and there is nothing stopping him from taking his revenge on the Republican Party.
As long as Donald Trump was president, he had no interest in transforming the GOP along populist and nationalist lines. The only thing that mattered was personal loyalty to him as Jeff Sessions found out. Even though the majority of Republicans are now Trumpists, he threw his support behind conventional Republican politicians who flattered him. He even endorsed Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse. There was never a Trumpist Senate because Donald Trump is a narcissist, not an ideologue. There is nothing stopping Donald Trump from turning his supporters against elected Republicans.
The giant phalanx of conservative institutions and Republican senators were against Trumpism. They were also against $2,000 stimulus checks. No one except Trump has persuaded Republican voters over the past four years. The Liz Cheney base of support within the Republican Party is tinier than it was four years ago because well to do suburbanites have left the party and even more working class voters have joined it. The disconnect between True Conservatism™ and the Republican base is greater now than it was back then. How many National Review subscribers have simply died off over the last four years?
The 2018 midterms were the demographic tipping point when Silents and Boomers became a smaller share of the electorate than Gen X, Millennials and Zoomers. Younger Republicans are significantly more moderate and less wealthy than older conservatives. It is even less likely that True Conservatives could return to Reaganism in 2021 than in 2016.
3.) “This is not true. While Trump’s celebrity is an underrated factory in his success, looking backward from 2021, Trumpism seems inevitable and on the rise, with many antecedent figures across the party championing at least parts of it.”
The people who supported Reaganism are either dead or rapidly dying off. Did you know 40% of Older Conservatives rank racial equality as a very important issue compared to 3.8% of Younger Conservatives? The Republican Party will rapidly change over the next fours due to generational turnover.
4.) “The political logic of Trumpism resided in ideological and electoral opportunities — namely, solidifying the GOP among its new more-Evangelical voters, and reaching out over and over again to the remnants of Reagan Democrats and other groups that have been globalization’s losers — voters who have been effectively abandoned by a Democratic Party dominated by college-educated lifestyle progressives.”
For anyone who was watching and taking notes, the $2,000 stimulus check issue bridged the divide between MAGA voters and the Bernie voters and politically isolated the “True Conservative” wing of the Republican Party. There is far more support for wealth redistribution in the MAGA base than previously thought. It was Trump himself who forced the issue of $2,000 stimulus checks.
It is true that the Democrats are two parties – the Democrat Independent Liberal Elites (DILEs) and the Democrat Leaning Working Class (DLWCs) – and that the overwhelmingly White, college educated, upper middle class professionals who are lifestyle progressives who embrace Modernism or the DILEs dominate the Democratic Party. The DLWCs are much more moderate on cultural issues. Donald Trump won 25% of the DLWC vote in the 2016 election by running as a populist and nationalist. Bernie 2016 ran as a DLWC candidate. Woke Bernie 2020 tried to appeal to the DILEs to fend off Elizabeth Warren.
5.) “Many left-leaning parties across the world made their peace with global capitalism after 1989, abandoning their traditional workers in favor of culturally progressive, upwardly mobile, educated voters; they centered themselves instead on the new professionals in global cities. …”
The unhappiest people in American politics are the Disaffected Democrats (DLWC voters) because the DILEs control the Democratic Party. The Bernie Sanders campaigns in 2016 and 2020 were an effort to recapture the Democratic Party from the Democrat establishment. The only possible way to do this though is to work with the “Hard-Pressed Skeptics” (Obama era) or “Market Skeptic Republicans” (Trump era) who have drifted to the Right because they are alienated by the cultural extremism of the DILEs. Both groups have the same relationship respectively to the Democrats and Republicans.
6.)”Finally, the truth is that those “left behind” voters of the old left-wing coalitions as well as many other voters have been deprived of institutions. They exist in smaller, more fragmented networks. They are less likely to be a part of labor unions or members of churches. They are therefore less likely to be the kind of traditional small-c conservatives who hope to preserve their little platoons and who are content and therefore fearful of change. Instead, they are more likely to be dissatisfied with many present arrangements, and they are open to the broad appeal of politics in a nationalist key, which promises solidarity based on shared membership in the nation, and which seeks to reorder the priorities of the governing class to bring them in line with their own aims and well-being. Working with these voters presents serious challenges and even dangers for traditional conservatives. We’ve seen many of those dangers these last five years. But there are many more opportunities as well. …”
The Core Conservatives who dominate the Republican Party and the Solid Liberals (DILEs) who dominate the Democratic Party are the problem for everyone else in American politics. The wealthy are polarized into two camps of cultural libertarians and fiscal libertarians. The middle of the horseshoe is a vast sea of poor, working class and lower middle class voters who are caught in between these two camps. Most people in this country are not extremists on cultural issues or economic issues but tend to be middle or the road and the key to getting out of this ditch is figuring out how to unite those voters against the two extremes.
The political solution is a compromise. Wealth redistribution in exchange for getting rid of the yoke of political correctness or wokeness or basically the Democratic Party of the New Deal era. Sure, there were “racists” in that party, but look at what was accomplished compared to our own times. The standard of living for the vast majority of the country rose for decades as opposed to stagnating or falling. The alternative is things keep going the way they are going now and income inequality gets worse and the political correctness gets worse and neither side gets what they want most until at some point the social fabric of this country completely unravels