The GOP Finally Admits That They Were Not The Party Of The Working Class
Here’s their plan to bring everyone else into the fold. You know, as if we’d all fit in their vision of what the country should be like.
I just caught this article on NPR yesterday. It was quite by accident as I wasn’t really looking for it. That’s how serendipity works, you know? You’re just minding your own business and then something novel passes the corner of your eye. NPR had run this story, “Top Republicans Work To Rebrand GOP As Party Of Working Class” and I couldn’t stop thinking about it since I had read it.
The photo at the top of the article shows quite a smug of a man with an earpiece in one ear. That’s Representative Jim Banks of Indiana. Banks wrote a letter to another member of the GOP, Representative Kevin McCarthy R-CA, and he calls it the “RSC Working Class Memo”. It was six pages of messaging and it was well worth the time to read it. Therein, Banks outlines a strategy for bringing the working class b̵a̵c̵k̵ into the GOP. As I read the memo, I could not help but notice that they’re planning to debate Democrats on their turf on issues that are important to Democrats, too.
Banks notes that Trump led the way for the GOP by taking notice of the working class and throwing them the red meat that roused their interest in Trump in the first place. Seems strange that those red meat issues weren’t important enough for Trump to talk about until after he decided to run for president. Anyway, Banks rightly notes in his memo that many of the pain points that angered the working class, their sense of betrayal on the part of the Democrats, and how to take advantage of that dynamic to win more seats in the House and the Senate. I applaud him for at least making an effort to try to appeal to the working class.
But as I read the memo, I was already debating him in my mind. I was already looking for ways to minimize or undercut his arguments in support of the idea that the GOP is the party of the working class. I have NEVER seen the GOP as the party of the working class. I have always seen the GOP as the business class party, the bankers party. I began to think of the mindset of the GOP’s elite. “Debt is cool if it’s owed to me and my friends. Public debt is bad because it competes with the austerity business model of me and my friends. Then debt is bad.”
I have also had the impression that the GOP would be happy if we were all independent contractors running businesses, in competition with each other, never quite united enough to stop the corruption of the GOP. I see corruption in the Democratic Party, too. But today, I’m talking about the GOP.
Banks says in his memo that Trump gave the GOP a political gift: polling shows that the GOP has more working-class members and donors than the Democrats. And their plan is to show the voters that because corporations made more donations to Joe Biden than to Trump, that the GOP is really looking out for working-class interests. In his memo, Banks goes into some detail about this dynamic. He identifies 5 main points of interest and then outlines a strategy for defeating Democrats. I note that in the entire memo, “bipartisanship” is not mentioned.
The first point of interest is immigration, and here is an excerpt:
In early February, before the [border] crisis intensified, five of Biden’s seven least popular Executive Actions either relaxed border security or increased the amount of legal immigration. 73% of voters now recognize the Border Crisis as an issue, so now Biden’s immigration agenda is likely even more unpopular now than it was in February.
So the GOP as usual plans to seize on xenophobia as a talking point against Democrats. But they are silent on the cause of the increase in immigration. they are silent about the decades of GOP-sponsored American interference in South American politics. Banks fails to talk about our past involvement in South America. Pinochet and Nicaragua come to mind. More recently, the federal government has been working with the banks in the UK, to withhold $1 billion worth of gold from Venezuela, and that was with Trump in power, too. America (and its allies) has been screwing with South American politics since at least the early 20th century and there is no sign of abatement. You can bet that the GOP has had a hand in all of that.
Their implied message to working-class voters? Don’t worry about why people want to come here, just paint it like America is the land of opportunity and let the voters make up their own minds.
The next point in the memo is (not so free) trade. To wit:
President Trump’s push to take on the Chinese Communist Party resonated because voters felt, correctly, that the Communist Party harmed American jobs more than any other foreign government. In fact, more voters say it’s important to “get tough with China on economic issues,” than favor improved economic relations. When Americans are opposed to stronger relations, we’d be wise to take note.
It should also be noted that there is a pattern here. The message is that those terrible foreign countries should change for us. Never mind that an army of genius MBAs thought it would be a good idea to ship our jobs over to China in the 1990s. Never mind that American action precipitated the trade imbalance in the first place. Never mind that it was Republican President Richard Nixon’s idea to open up trade relations with China in the first place. Jim Banks would have us believe that we didn’t start the fire and it’s all their fault.
The next issue is “Anti-Wokeness”. Wow. New term. So what did banks have to say about that?
Wokeness was cooked up by college professors, then boosted by corporations, which is why it’s now an official part of the Democrat Party platform. Nothing better encapsulates Democrats’ elitism and classism than their turn towards “wokeness”. Wokeness and identity politics aren’t pro-Hispanic, pro-African American, or pro-LGBTQ; they’re anti-American, anti-women, and most of all, anti-working class.
The wokeness that Banks speaks of is in response to decades of “tough on crime” politics promoted by the GOP. They encouraged passage of the 1994 crime bill by painting Democrats as weak on crime in the 1990s. Wokeness is a direct response to violence and discrimination against minorities, against women, and against the LGBTQ community (just think “the bathroom bill”). Clearly, Banks would have us believe that the GOP has always been a working-class party when the reality is that the GOP has been busy rigging the economy and the laws in favor of their wealthy benefactors for decades.
Next up is Wall Street vs Main Street. Banks says that because corporations gave more money to Democrats that the Democrat Party has become the party of big business.
Republicans opposed draconian coronavirus lockdowns because we knew that small, independent businesses and working Americans would be hurt the most. Democrats supported them because their donors would profit. And that’s exactly what happened.
Not a word about how Republicans and conservative policy helped to undermine preparedness for a pandemic. We knew this was coming, it was only a matter of when. Steve Bannon, a prominent member of the Trump Administration tore down (with glee) much of what we needed to be prepared for the pandemic and he did it with Trump’s blessing. And if you know that a pandemic could shut down your country, wouldn’t it be a good idea to ensure that most Americans could save enough money to sit out a pandemic? Funny how I never hear either party talking about that. Republicans have had control of both houses of Congress and the White House for more of the last 40 years than Democrats, but we should blame the Democrats for us not being prepared for a pandemic.
Big Tech is up next. Banks spares no words on this perceived alliance between Democrats and big tech. It seems like he’s genuinely unhappy that he didn’t get there first. Sour grapes from a man who didn’t get as much money from Google, Facebook, or Twitter as his opponent. Here, we know he’s going after Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, but he’s not very clear about it. He’s not willing to admit that Section 230 protects *everyone* who has a website that hosts 3rd party content:
Republicans should continue to promote policies that curb Big Tech’s egregious suppression of conservative speech. Big Tech isn’t only guilty of ideologically motivated censorship. The GOP should expand its legislative effort to counter Big Tech’s tolerance of illegal content like child pornography, Big Tech’s abuse of our immigration and patent systems and its anti-competitive practices.
You know, there is competition out there for Twitter, Facebook and Google. You could build that competition. I note also, that if the big social media companies had swung your way, Mr. Banks, and curtailed liberal expression, you’d be silent on the speech issue. I agree with the suggestions of addressing the abuses of the immigration and patent systems, but both of those issues are a result of rigging the economy for the rich, something that the GOP has been promoting with enthusiasm. The message? “Come to America and get your ticket for the lottery,” but what they don’t tell you is that the lottery is rigged.
I see something else and it’s with both parties, more so the GOP than the Democrats. I see criticism of “the others” without actually offering an enduring solution. The filibuster gridlock in Congress? No solutions, just grandstanding and wishing the other people would change. What we need to see is a true collaboration that produces enduring workable solutions that can be repeated and actually achieved by all interested parties.
I have seen cancel culture on both sides. I have seen fighting and vitriol from both sides. And I have seen an insistence that the other side change without ever acknowledging that everyone is doing the best that they can. If they could do better they would. No olive branches here.
So the GOP is going to try to curry favor with the working class. But they won’t admit to having any part in the damage done to the working class. I know, Bill Clinton doesn’t admit to that, either. But it has to start somewhere. And I think it starts with us. We need a political process that is responsive to all of us, not just the people with passive income sitting on a yacht because right now, that’s what we have, and Jim Banks won’t admit to that, either.