Analistas

A place for Trump in today’s G.O.P.

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The fact is that the central planks of modern conservatism – slashing taxes for the rich and cutting benefits for the public at large – are deeply unpopular. In the past, Republicans have won elections only by wrapping these policies in other stuff. It’s been all about cutting benefits for “welfare queens” and “strapping young bucks” (these are Reaganisms, in case you’re wondering) buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. And this in turn means that there is an empty box in American politics that is waiting to be filled.

The matrix here shows the possible positions. A welfare state available to all is the Democratic position – which is pretty much what other Western countries call the social democratic position. The dominant role in the modern Republican Party is played by a faction that links a desire to slash social insurance with a de facto disdain for Those People. Libertarians are also, in principle, for small government, but without the undertones – and they are also basically absent from the existing electorate.

And then there’s the empty box. Once upon a time, that box was filled by Southern Democrats, who preserved Jim Crow laws that enforced segregation while they supported the New Deal. These voters have all since moved over to the Republican Party, and in the process they have developed an opposition to social insurance. But there are plenty of other voters who want Social Security and Medicare for people who look like them, but not those other people. And at some level, Mr. Trump, a Republican candidate for the presidential nomination, is catering to that unserved population.

Of course, Trumpism is a really bad name for this, partly because the man isn’t actually coherent, and partly because it’s still likely that he’s a case of hair today, gone tomorrow. And maybe nobody else will make a play for that box.

But it’s also possible that we’ll see the rise of a movement that needs a better name. Hmm. How about National Social Democracy? Any problems with that?

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