Saturday, March 19, 2016

From Reagan Democrat to Trump Republican

Heather Digby Parton took a look at some data from Alan I. Abramowitz, Ronald Rapoport, and Walter Stone about Trump supporters and reached a conclusion that has seemed obvious for a while now. Parton zeros in on the fact that these voters display an embrace of nativism, authoritarianism and economic populism. She adds nationalistic militarism to the list.
I guess I don't really understand why this is such a mystery. This the profile of Republicans who used to be called Reagan Democrats. They've been part of the GOP coalition or more than 30 years. And their views have always been the same. Nativism/racism, authoritarian/lawandorder, nationalist/militarist, economic populists. These are blue collar white people who used to vote for Democrats until Democrats became the party of civil rights, civil liberties and anti-war protests. In other words, the party of black and brown people, gays, and feminists, globalists and critics of authoritarian police agencies and military adventurism.
After that happened Democrats remained more responsive to economic populism although they foolishly muddied their message so that their differences with the GOP were obscured. But it wouldn't have mattered, not really. People who hold that set of beliefs are Republicans because they do not want to be in multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition where "liberal peaceniks" and uppity feminists are equal partners. The GOP's fundamental nativism and racism and "patriotic" militarism are the reasons they prefer the Republicans and they are the reasons they prefer Donald Trump. They love him so much because they've finally found someone who boldly expresses all those beliefs.
While Ronald Reagan made a direct appeal to these voters via finely-tuned dog whistles, the Republicans began wooing them to their party after passage of the civil rights laws of the 1960's via their Southern Strategy. Because of that focus, it is tempting to assume that these voters all reside in the South. But as we've watched the rise of Donald Trump, it is obvious that they are also to be found in so-called "Rust Belt" states as well as the Mountain West.

Ever since the inception of the Southern Strategy, Democrats have been attempting to determine how they can entice these voters to return to their party. To the extent that their passions are ignited by Trump's nativist, racist, sexist, militaristic appeal, it is safe to assume they aren't coming back. That should have been clear from the fact that they were willing to remain Republican despite the fact that the GOP has never supported policies that address their economic populism. But if there were ever any doubts, it is now obvious what is driving their political leanings...it is nothing more than an appeal to tribalism.

It is way beyond time to stop calling these voters "Reagan Democrats." To the extent that they now support Donald Trump, they make up what we often refer to as the "base" of the Republican Party - a base that has been catered to for so long that it is now threatening to take control away from people who still pine for the days when they were the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower.

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