When election results showed President Donald J. Trump received strong worker support in November while suffering historic losses in suburbs across the country, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican explained on Twitter: “We are now a workers’ party. That’s the future. “
And with further results showing that Mr. Trump had raised 40 percent of the union budgets and made unexpected strides among Latinos, other Republican leaders, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, are trumpeting a political realignment. The Republicans, they said, were hastening their conversion to Sam’s Club party, not the country club.
But since then, Republicans have offered very little to advance workers’ economic interests. Two important ways for party leaders to present their priorities have emerged recently without nodding to working Americans.
In Washington, Democrats, who are putting nearly $ 2 trillion in a stimulus package, are facing widespread opposition from Congressional Republicans to the package, which is full of measures taken by struggling workers a full year after the coronavirus pandemic began benefit. The bill includes $ 1,400 middle-income American checks with extended unemployment benefits due to expire on March 14.
And at a high-profile, high-decibel Conservative meeting in Florida last weekend, potential 2024 presidential candidates, including Texas Hawley and Senator Ted Cruz, barely mentioned a blue collar agenda. They used their twists and turns in the national spotlight to stir up complaints about “culture breakup”, beat up the tech industry, and reinforce Mr. Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.
Inside and outside the party, critics see a familiar pattern: Republican officials, following Trump’s own example, harness the cultural anger and racial resentment of a sizable segment of the white working class, but have not made a concerted effort to help Americans economically.
“This is the Republican identity problem,” said Carlos Curbelo, a former Florida Republican Congressman, referring to the general opposition of the House Republicans to the stimulus plan devised by President Biden and the Democratic Congress. “This is a package that Donald Trump would most likely have supported as President.”
“Here’s the question for the Rubios and the Hawleys and the Cruzes and anyone else who wants to benefit from this potential new Republican coalition,” added Curbelo. “If you don’t take steps to improve people’s quality of life, they will eventually leave you.”
Some Republicans have tried to address the strategic problem. Utah Senator Mitt Romney suggested one of the most ambitious G.O.P. Anti-American Initiatives, a child poverty effort that sends parents up to $ 350 per month per child. But Republicans refused the plan as “welfare”. Mr. Hawley has approved a Democratic proposal for a minimum wage of $ 15, with the caveat that it only applies to companies with annual sales above $ 1 billion.
Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster whose client included Mr Rubio, criticized the Democrats for looking after a group of G.O.P. Senators offered a smaller package. “Seven Republican senators voted to condemn a president of their own party,” he said, referring to Mr. Trump’s impeachment. “If you can’t put any of them on a Covid program, don’t really bother.”
As the Covid-19 bailout package, which every Republican in the House of Representatives has rejected, finds its way through the Senate this week, Republicans are expected to come up with further proposals targeting the struggling Americans.
Mr Ayres said the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, last weekend, the first major party convention since Mr Trump left, had been a spectacularly missed opportunity in failing to have a meaningful discussion of politics for workers pick up voters. Instead, the former president waged an intra-party civil war by naming a hit list of all Republicans who voted to indict him in his speech on Sunday.
“You should spend a lot more time developing an economic agenda that benefits workers than retrying a losing presidential election,” Ayres said. “The question is, how long will it take Republicans to find out that driving out heretics rather than attracting new converts is a losing strategy right now?”
Separately, one of the most famous worker uplifting efforts in the country was made this week in Alabama, where nearly 6,000 workers are voting on union formation at an Amazon warehouse. On Sunday, the union-friendly workers were given a nudge in a video from Mr Biden. Representatives of Mr. Hawley, who was one of the leading Republican advocates of working class realignment, did not respond to a request for comment on where he stood on the matter.
The 2020 elections continued a long-term trend with parties essentially swapping voters, with Republicans winning with workers while suburban white-collar workers headed for Democrats. The idea of “Sam’s Club Conservatives” Founded about 15 years ago by former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, the company recognized an constituency of populist Republicans who advocated higher minimum wages and government aid for families in trouble.
Mr Trump noted a historic level of support for a Republican among white working class voters. But once in office, his greatest legislative effort was a tax cut, in which most of the benefits went to corporations and the rich.
Oceans of ink have been spilled on whether the white working class devotion to Mr Trump had more to do with economic fear or anger against “elites” and racial minorities, especially immigrants. For many analysts, the answer is that this has to do with both.
Its advancement of politics in favor of working class Americans has often been chaotic and unsolved. Manufacturing jobs, which had been slow to recover since the 2009 financial crisis, declined in the year before the Trump pandemic. The former president’s martial trade war with China hit American farmers so hard economically that they received large bailouts from taxpayers.
“There never was a program that looked at the types of displacement,” said John Russo, former co-director of the Center for Working Class Studies at Youngstown State University in Ohio.
He believes that once the economy returns to pre-pandemic levels, American workers will be worse off because employers have accelerated automation and will continue the downsizing that was decided during the pandemic. “Neither party is talking about it,” said Mr Russo. “I think this will be a key issue by 2024.”
It’s possible that Republicans who don’t prioritize economic issues are reading their ranks carefully. A survey by the G.O.P. Pollster Echelon Insights found that the main concerns of Republican voters were mainly cultural: illegal immigration, lack of police support, high taxes and “liberal bias in the mainstream media.”
Despite Mr Biden’s campaign to refer to him as “Bourgeois Joe” from Scranton, Pennsylvania, he made little progress as a candidate in supporting Mr Trump with non-college white voters, disappointing Democratic strategists and party activists. in the End pollsThese voters preferred Mr. Trump to Mr. Biden by 35 percentage points.
Among non-college color voters, Mr Trump won one of four votes, an improvement over 2016 when he received one of five votes.
His interventions in Latinos in South Florida and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas shocked many Democrats in particular and spurred Mr. Rubio to do so Tweet that the future of the G.O.P. was “a party built on a multi-ethnic, multi-ethnic coalition of working Americans.”
After the Trump presidency, it is an open question whether other Republican candidates can win the same intensity of worker support. “Whatever your criticism of Trump – and I have a lot – clearly, he was able to connect with these people and they voted for him,” said Ohio Representative Tim Ryan, a Democrat from the Youngstown area.
Mr. Ryan is preparing to run for an open Senate seat in Ohio in 2022. He agrees with Mr. Trump regarding the takeover of China, but blames him for not following his harsh language with sustainable policies. “I think there is an opportunity to have a similar message but a real agenda,” he said.
As for the Republican presidential candidates who want working-class supporters to inherit from Trump, Ryan saw poor prospects for them, especially if they continued to oppose the Biden stimulus package, which the House passed and is now before the Senate.
“The Covid-19 relief bill was aimed directly at workers’ struggles,” Ryan said, adding that Republicans who voted against the package “are facing a rude awakening.”
Maybe. ON Monmouth University survey On Wednesday, it was found that six in ten Americans supported the $ 1.9 trillion package in its current form, particularly the $ 1,400 checks for people with certain income levels.
But Republicans who vote against may not pay a political price, said Patrick Murray, the poll’s director. “They know the checks will bottom out regardless, and they can continue to rail against democratic excesses,” he said.
“There would only be a problem if they somehow managed to cut the bill,” he added.