Henry Olsen thinks a conservative-populist alliance is durable.
“The top takeaway I have from the survey is that the conservative-populist alliance is real. It requires mutual forbearance and understanding, but building out from it — rather than trying to ignore the fact of it — is the only way forward for the Republican Party. You cannot add by subtracting. That means populists can’t throw out conservatives or establishmentarians, and conservatives can’t throw out populists. That’s the way to division and defeat.
A conservative-populist alliance is workable. It’s already there. The way to go forward is to build from it and not to form an intra-party circular firing squad.”
Here is what I would say in response:
- I would distinguish between social conservatives and business conservatives. The True Cons crowd which lives in the wealthy suburbs voted for Joe Biden and Republicans down ballot in 2020. They are going to continue to peel away in future elections because ultimately they care more about virtue signaling and their modernist and cosmopolitan values than any policy preference. After Trump catered to them for four years and gave them massive tax cuts, deregulation, military spending and their libertarian judges, they still voted for Joe Biden.
- Both party coalitions are currently in flux as Democrats and Independents continue to become Republicans and Republicans continue to become Democrats.
- As these former Republican establishment voters shift to the Democrats, Trump and the Republicans will inevitably be forced to compensate by winning over a greater share of working class voters toward the Center on the other side of the Republican coalition. The party will have to become more populist than it is today to stay viable.
- White racial attitudes are significantly harder in 2021 than in 2017 after everything that has happened since the George Floyd riots and the political, corporate and cultural establishment embracing the new definition of antiracism.
- The policy agenda cannot remain the same in light of the resorting of the electorate.
In four years, I think we will look back on the 2016-2024 period as a transition period. The Democrats are being gentrified like Washington, DC and are becoming the party of woke professionals.