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The Week: The Realignment That Wasn’t

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I’ve concluded there was a realignment.

The 2016 election fundamentally changed the Republican Party. The composition of the Republican base looks different now. The Trump voters came into the Republican Party in 2016 and knocked other people out of the party and the process continued in the 2020 election. The establishment wing of the party is demographically in a weaker position due to the loss of affluent suburbanites.

The Week:

“Is there any chance we could come up with another name for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union? I was thinking something a bit more eye-popping, along the lines of the “Anti-Big Tech Censorship Shark Fin League.” This is in part because one suspects that the name change would keep the story of the union currently fighting against Amazon for collective bargaining rights in Alabama in the headlines. But it is also because, as far as I can tell, it is the only chance these workers have of bringing Marco Rubio around to their cause.

What we don’t know is what, if anything, Rubio has to say about the push for unionization at Amazon. Months after his colleague Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his support for workers in Alabama, Rubio has yet to broach the subject, despite years of talk about the crucial role once played by unions in safeguarding the rights of American workers and even signing statements like this one declaring that free markets “offer no guarantee that the gains will reach all participants.”

It is not as if Rubio has had nothing to say at all about Amazon in recent weeks. Like his fellow Senate Republicans Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, who have also been making vague pro-worker noise in recent years, he has spoken relentlessly about the need for conservatives to unite against “Big Tech” and censorship. …

Somehow the calls for oversight hearings and the enforcement of antitrust laws and the prose poems about the common good and a hundred other gestures that are presented to us as evidence of some kind of impending “realignment” in American politics always seem to stop short of a meaningful break with GOP orthodoxy. …”

While the ground underneath the party has shifted dramatically over the last decade, the Republican donor class, Conservatism, Inc. and especially the geriatrics in Congress who are hanging on due to record polarization are trying to proceed with business as usual. It is only a matter of time before the disconnect between Republican voters and Republican politicians starts to get interesting. The same is true of the Democrats who have attracted all of these White cosmopolitan, college educated Republican voters. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was part of the conspiracy against Donald Trump.

I’m encouraged by the polling which shows that 64% of Trump voters now say that their race is important to their identity. What is going to happen now that the demographic base of “True Conservatism” and the Republican establishment has eroded to the point where the sort of people who would like to maintain those taboos are dwarfed by those who are motivated by White grievance politics? Can you maintain the old taboos in the Republican Party with highly educated, cosmopolitan and modernist voters all concentrating in the Democratic Party as opposed to being much more evenly distributed?

What kind of people can run and win against the old guard now that the electorate is sorted so much differently? Even Josh Hawley was launched into Republican politics for really a different time. Maybe the country wasn’t ready for David Duke in 1991, but someone else today could win? Could it really hurt to start testing the waters against all of these Reaganite throwbacks from the 1980s?


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