Where Do Republicans Go From Here?

Aug 07, 2020

Jonathan V. Last thinks President Trump is here forever. … I salute Last for coming up with a post-2020 scenario even more pessimistic than my own!

My guess is that if Trump gets crushed in the election, millions of Republicans will decide they never liked that loser and jerk anyway. He’ll get relegated to whatever bargain basement they are using to hold Sarah Palin. But something will remain: Trumpism.

The basic Trump worldview — on immigration, trade, foreign policy, etc. — will shape the G.O.P. for decades, the way the basic Reagan worldview did for decades. A thousand smarter conservatives will be building a new party after 2020, but one that builds from the framework Trump established.

…there is a posse of policy wonks and commentators supporting a new Working-Class Republicanism, including Oren Cass, Henry Olsen, J.D. Vance, Michael Brendan Dougherty, Saagar Enjeti, Samuel Hammond and, in his own way, Tucker Carlson.

Cass, for example, has created a new think tank, the American Compass, to push the G.O.P. in a post-Trump direction. Cass, a former adviser to Mitt Romney, argues that free-market economists pay too much attention to G.D.P. growth. What matters is the kind of growth and whether it allows people to lead stable lives. He says there’s too much emphasis on consumption. People should be seen as producers, and government should create the kind of jobs that allow people to earn dignity through work.

He says the core of the economy is the industrial economy: manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure — making things in the physical world. “Investment in our economy has completely discounted the making of stuff,” he told me in a recent interview. “You have a V.C. industry that goes entirely to software. Private equity financial flow is about buying and trading companies.” Government needs to engage in “predistribution,” to steer investment to manufacturing, and also to those Middle American parts of the country that are currently left out.

“The American labor force cannot be changed into what the economy wants,” Cass says. “We have to change the economy to what the American labor force can be successful in.”

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