Economic Populism and the GOP

Populism is popular in the GOP nowadays it seems. Or at least, some of the candidates like Huckabee and Santorum are showing support for economic populism in areas like trade and in attacks on corporate welfare, while holding to their social conservatism. And social conservatism is apparently slipping more than a little in the polls, so it seems the emphasis on economic populism of one form or another will now step forward towards center stage. And social conservatism may be signaled from a more oblique position: gay marriage as a state issue and therefore as a constitutional issue rather than a moral one, for example.

That will be a difficult balancing act on some issues. Rick Santorum is for the American Worker - in capital letters - and for a flat tax. He will have to convince middle class voters that lower and simpler taxes will mean more jobs and not just higher profits: a very reasonable economic equation, but one that gets muddled when filtered through politics, especially union politics. And medicare and social security as entitlement programs remain potentially fatal issues, especially for GOP candidates. Just ask Rick Perry. But social conservatism can sit well with workers. Reagan's overwhelming electoral successes were based in large part on attracting disenfranchised blue collar votes away from the tattered Democratic party of the late 70's and early 80's. History will decide whether Obama and Reid were a Carter-Kennedy style tag team that led their party to ruin, but there was no ex first lady running as the party nominee back then.

But economic populism aimed at working class - whatever that means in 2015 - voters seems to be the choice of at least some of the GOP field of candidates. However, it is framed in the language of libertarianism: against big anything - labor, government, business. And for individual rights. That's a shift from Santorum's previous criticism of the libertarian influence on the GOP. But Santorum isn't gunning for Rand Paul. His target seems to be Jeb Bush who is big business, big trade, and big immigration according to Santorum. And his "... join me and drive a stake through the heart of Common Core" is about as direct an attack on the former governor of Florida as you can get. So the question may soon be: will any GOP contender push back against economic populism or will that bandwagon become crowded with candidates trying to outdo each other as the best populist in town?

Posted by Keeley at May 28, 2015 8:39 PM
Comment #395786

A Republican candidate saying ‘I’m an economic populist’ is meaningless if none of the candidate’s ideas have anything to do with economic populism. Calling for a flat tax is a regressive form of taxation, not progressive; it is precisely the opposite of populism. Economic populism would involve pushing the views of Senator Bernie Sanders. It would involve repealing ‘right to work’ laws and supporting labor unions. It would mean calling for universal health care. It would mean acting like Senator Elizabeth Warren, and demanding the banks be held accountable for what they did to the economy in 2007-08. It would mean demanding the social security cap be lifted and the age of retirement LOWERED. It would mean making all college loans be reduced from 7% to 3% interest, at a minimum.

As candidate Rand Paul says, the GOP image is “broken,” and “Right now, the Republican brand sucks,” and Paul is right.

How did it come to this? Part of the problem is that the GOP traded in fear for these past few years- fear of ISIS, fear of terrorism, and fear of illegal immigrants. (In 2014 there was also fear of Ebola.)

Another part of the problem is that the GOP reflexively opposed absolutely everything Obama did and tried to declare every success to be a failure. It would have worked better to simply congratulate his administration on jobs well done, and then present an alternative way to do things even better. What a concept. But it’s too late for that now. Conservatism has drifted further and further to the right, especially the social conservatives, and… here we are.

Now we are seeing the spectacle of a party where Dr Ben Carson just tied for second in a poll of candidates, and Donald Trump will announce soon too. As Jeb Bush said “people believe Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker,” and Jeb Bush is right, because that is what the GOP has pushed.

Conservatives have made their bed, and now it’s time to sleep in it. Dreaming about being an economic populist without adopting populist issues will NOT help.

Posted by: phx8 at June 1, 2015 10:17 PM
Comment #395797

OH…MY…What’s happening!

“According to a CNN/ORC poll conducted May 29-31 of 1,025 adults, half of Americans have an unfavorable view of the former secretary of state and a growing number of people say she is not honest and trustworthy.
Specifically, 57 percent say they do not think she is honest and trustworthy compared to 49 percent in March. And 47 percent say they feel she cares about them, down from 53 percent in July.

Fifty percent also say they feel she does not inspire confidence, an increase from 42 percent last March.

Clinton’s lead has also slimmed or disappeared altogether in match-ups against top Republican contenders, marking the tightest spread since any point in the survey’s history:

Clinton has 48 percent compared to 47 percent for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
Clinton has 49 percent compared to 46 percent for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
Clinton has 49 percent compared to 46 percent for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
Clinton leads at 51 percent compared to 43 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
Clinton has 52 percent compared to 43 percent for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz

The shift appears to come from independent voters, CNN said, but Clinton is also losing ground among those in her own party. Specifically, her support among Democrats has dropped 9 points since April.”

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 2, 2015 4:31 PM
Comment #395799

RF, I wouldn’t tell Jeb, Rand, Marco, Mike, Lindsey, Ben, Carly, Chris, Ted, Bobby, George, Rick P, Rick S or the Donald(whew, there’s a mouthful) to start measuring for drapes just yet. It’s a long time until November 2016 and there is much to happen yet.

I look forward to this campaign from both parties but only wish there was some way to see third party or independents included in the process. Not that I would support them but you never know unless you get to kick the tires. Hillary has a lot of tire kicking going on right now but since the Clinton family could never be considered novices in a political race we will just have to stay tuned for more.

Posted by: Speak4all at June 2, 2015 5:15 PM
Comment #395801

Howdy Speak. Perhaps you can give us some spin on why Her Majesty Hillary is dropping in the polls right now among Dems.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 2, 2015 5:34 PM
Comment #395802

Howdy backatcha. No spin, it’s called churn. I have had to deal with it in marketing for all types of businesses but in particular ISP’s, Telephone services and Television services. The American consumer is a fickle bunch and very prone to changing their minds, at times. There’s a whole lot of time for lots of different things to play out. She did after all loose her last political foray, who is to say that it was not the kiss of death. We still haven’t heard anything from the “big dog” (Bill) and I don’t expect we will until it gets down into the nitty gritty of campaigning that should begin next year. Then let’s reassess this and see where everyone is, including Republican candidates.

By the way, I see the Hastert scandal playing well for Bill Clinton. It seems that everyone that was calling for his impeachment (Gingrich, Hastert and I believe it was Livingston) have been proven much worse at infidelity then he ever was. And he did it with a consenting adult. He is going to be a force to be reckoned with if he is used in the campaign for his wife, the American electorate will feel remorse for what was done to him by people acting much worse than he was.

Posted by: Speak4all at June 2, 2015 5:46 PM
Comment #395805

Well Speak, I believe SOB (Sweet Old Bill) has major problems of his own brewing that may…I say May…make him poison for Hillary on the campaign trail.

Just as the country is Bush-weary, I believe they are also Clinton-weary and wary.

If she breaks into her “Black Folk Dialect” as she has in the past, or begins her screeching, which is worse than fingernails on a blackboard, she will be toast.

Hard to imagine any candidate running on his/her genitalia but Hillary will.

I do hope her health will last until November. Her VP choice is critical.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 2, 2015 6:22 PM
Comment #395813

RF, that saying about fingernails on a blackboard seems to be something that a lot of Fox viewers use(I have heard several people make that comment, more than once). Must be something in the not to subtle derogatory comments that come from that venue. I don’t listen to it too much so I wouldn’t know.

As much as the conservatives/Republicans dislike Bill Clinton he seems to be well liked by most other Americans. Bush weariness is understandable, Clinton weariness not so much as everyone remembers the 90’s and the prosperity they brought.

I suppose referencing the body parts is another Fox “soliloquy”, it’s as unattractive and demeaning as almost everything else that comes from them. Childish and sexist I would say.

I am always concerned about the health of our President but don’t feel any inclination to single out Hillary Clinton’s health for any reason.

I would like to see Julian Castro as a VP running mate but it is way to early to even begin to ponder that selection.

Posted by: Speak4all at June 3, 2015 10:01 AM
Comment #395814

Sorry Speak, I am not a Fox News watcher. My thoughts and comments are my own.

From where do you get yours?

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 3, 2015 2:46 PM
Comment #395818

RF, well I’m pretty sure we are the only ones here so I can let you in on a secret. I attend Obama indoctrination seminars 2 or 3 times a day, just don’t tell anyone I told you. We learn how to use devious methods to subvert the rights of conservatives and Republicans by encouraging voting rights and other fiendish enterprises. They are held regularly in every city, town, hamlet or unincorporated village in every state in this country. Just look for the blinking neon sign that says OIC (Obama Indoctrination Center, which not without coincidence is the same acronym for Organization for Islamic Conference wink, wink get it?). Knock on the door and when the guy slides the little window open say “Barack sent me”.

OK I’m sorry for making fun here about this but the level of conspiracy hunting by conservatives and Republicans has got to the ridiculous stage now. I would hope you are not that susceptible to those radical ideas. I thought perhaps some humor would help us communicate, forgive me if I was incorrect in that assumption.

Actually back in the 70’s I was an avid reader of the New Republic (pre-internet so I used to go to the local news stand and as soon as he saw my car pull up he would run over with the latest copy, remember those days?) Anyway I was definitely not a fan of Buckley but at that time there was at least a semblance of honest journalism that I could garner conservative view points and ideas from what was presented. This is very much unlike today’s conservative media which has turned into a circus of the absurd, with all of them vying for money and power by purporting the most crazy ideas similar to the first paragraph of this comment.

Today I try to limit my exposure to media and listen and learn from my children and grandchildren. They are the vibrant promise of a bright future as far as I am concerned. You and I are old warriors of the past, I’ll quote another old conservative. “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away”. I hope to live on in the dreams and aspirations of my progeny and theirs too.

Posted by: Speak4all at June 3, 2015 5:18 PM
Comment #395819

Thanks for the laughs Speak. It’s important to retain ones sense of humor.

As I have written in the past, I am here for the laughs as I don’t really expect to be educated or change my conservative ways.

There are some really good conservative websites but I won’t bother listing them.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 3, 2015 6:10 PM
Comment #395827

If I were here just for laughs, we wouldn’t have the disagreements and discussions that we have at times. I attempt to use humor to either admonish views or cause another to view their steadfast beliefs in a different perspective. I would never be so presumptuous to ever believe that I could educate or change someone, only they can do that.

Change is something that I don’t believe anyone who participates in discussions is looking for on this blog. Comprehension, understanding and lots of disputation are things that we seem to gather for although the first two are mostly overshadowed by the third.

We like to think we have each other figured out pretty good yet we continue to read each others comments and comment about them. Seems to me that even though we say we don’t want change, we do seek each other out here. Sometimes with respect and other times with derogation but we do continue to seek something.

Posted by: Speak4all at June 4, 2015 10:33 AM
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