Greg Sargent makes some good points in this article.
“The rage-addled statement that Donald Trump has fired at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plunged the GOP into worsening infighting. But as Republicans reacted to the former president’s missive, it also revealed a glaring tension in the story they are telling about his legacy.It’s a tension that Democrats can exploit to their advantage.
Conservative populists are ceding that space on other fronts. When Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) rolled out a well-received plan for a tax credit of at least $3,000 per child to fight childhood poverty, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) attacked it as “welfare.” …
Rubio is also a champion of the new conservative populism. It’s supposed to offer a decisive break with plutocratic GOP economic orthodoxy while championing immigration restrictionism, suspicion of internationalist solutions to problems like climate change, and nationalist industrial policy to counter China. …
“What that means,” Hammond concluded, “is that Democrats have space to occupy that vacuum and in some ways be more authentically populist than Trump or Trumpism ever could be.”
I think he has a blinkered view though.
Are the Democrats really capable of populist progressivism in light of their new coalition? The $2,000 stimulus checks which were supposed to go out the door “immediately” have yet to materialize. The $15 minimum wage doesn’t appear to be getting past Joe Manchin in the Senate. Neoliberal Joe made news last night by shooting down the idea of $50,000 in student loan debt relief.
Is anything realistically happening before the 2022 midterms on health care, infrastructure or the Trump tax cuts? Budget reconciliation is being used to pass the COVID relief bill. The new moderate voters from the suburbs who are the pride of the Democratic Party are people like the Lincoln Project, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce constituency, the True Cons “deficit hawk” wing of the GOP.
Good luck reconciling all of those new Democrats with the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. The neocons are all Democrats now too. Now that Donald Trump is gone, they are going to start pushing for tax cuts, free trade, new wars and libertarian economics inside the Democratic Party while virtue signaling about “racism” and “white supremacy” to fit in with their new liberal allies. Has anyone given much thought to the fact that the voters who used to support the Republican establishment are Democrats now? What effect will this have on the balance of power within the Democratic Party?
The Democratic Party is becoming the establishment party. It is like Bill Clinton on steroids with all the middle class suburban voters who were Bushies who supported the Republican establishment and who are the PMC constituency for neoliberalism becoming “centrist” Democrats now. The Democrats are the party of media elites, Hollywood elites, Wall Street elites, corporate elites, academic elites, military elites, etc. How in the world will such a party be able to manage populism when all of the resentment in this country in the working class that has been brewing on both sides is against those people?
It is true that the policy agenda of the Republican Party and the Reaganite gerontocracy in Congress led by Mitch McConnell hasn’t caught up yet with the working class demographics of the party. Donald Trump is bashing Mitch McConnell though now over losing the Senate because of his stubborn resistance on the $2,000 check issue. It is also worth noting that the $2,000 was Trump’s idea. He is finally using his cult of personality to push his base in a redistributionist direction after four years of deferring to Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment. Trump is now effectively the Republican establishment.
What if Trump continued to use his cult of personality to transform the Republican Party on economics like he has recently done with the stimulus checks? There was a little twinkle of Huey Long there at the end and as we all know “Trumpism” is infinitely flexible and the man has no ideological scruples. If Trump came out in favor of something like universal health care, his own followers would embrace it because Trump is for it and all the disaffected Independent and Democrat voters who agree with Trump on immigration, but not the GOP on health care would warm to him. Trump isn’t any good at winning suburban voters, but he does have a talent at attracting disaffected working class voters. It was people like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan who held him back. He lost some number of people who were with him in 2016.
Note: Republicans lost the House in 2018 because of the immigration/health care dilemma with swing voters. Democrats made health care the focus of their campaign and voters who supported Trump on immigration put the Democrats in charge of the House after he pushed Ryancare. The people who vote on the basis of health care are more restrictionist on immigration.