In the wake of the 2020 election, analysts and political junkies — looking deeply at the numbers — wondered if a realignment had occurred among the American electorate.
The way the story’s unfolded among the right since then, and even among some progressives, is an electoral shake-up has brought more working-class voters and more voters of color into the Republican Party. Meanwhile, the story continues, the Democratic Party continues to run up numbers in congressional districts that are whiter and wealthier. According to 2019 median household income data released by the Census Bureau, Democrats represent 26 of 27 richest congressional districts.
These trends are not entirely new. The 1980s saw the emergence of the “Reagan Democrats,” largely white voters from the Industrial Midwest who were longtime Democrat voters but moved to the GOP in the 1980s amid culture war concerns, de-industrialization and the feeling that the Democrats had become an elite party. A somewhat similar phenomenon could be observed with some black and Latino voters in the 2004 election, who supported the reelection of then-President George W. Bush during the post-9/11 atmosphere of concern about national security and terrorism.
Long-term trends could suggest that a more permanent and significant realignment is underway at the moment as the GOP attracts multi-racial, working-class voter. This new GOP would be animated by cultural concerns, religious and socially conservative attitudes, and alienation from the “woke” liberal elite who form the core of the Democratic Party’s apparatus.
One of the great political divides that increasingly trumps racial, religious or even class lines is the divide between the college-educated and the non-college or “some-college” voters. College-educated voters, especially female voters, tend to be more liberal. Those who went to college have had the exposure to woke terminology and ideology and are more likely to act on it in their voting patterns. Americans who have not fully digested the woke ideology are increasingly out of step with liberal elite tastemakers, and thus more attracted to conservative ideas, even as many of these voters were traditionally Democrats or happen to have liberal ideas on other issues.
That’s the realignment story the right side of DC is telling itself right now, and at its end stand several Republicans looking to capitalize.
And what do they intend to do?
The Daily Caller asked and got answers from Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and South Dakota Sen. John Thune.
The New York Times (NYT) released a report March 4 titled, “Republicans Won Blue-Collar Votes. They’re Not Offering Much in Return,” which called out the GOP’s perceived lack of initiatives to win over this new slice of the electorate. The Caller asked the Republicans about the Times report and also how, if at all, their policy agendas are designed to make the realignment more than just a George W. blip in the statistics.
Hawley launched that “The New York Times dedicated 5,000 words to tracking down my preschool classmates instead of covering what Republicans are doing for working people, because they would rather talk about anything other than Democrats’ globalist agenda that has hollowed out American cities and heartlands.”
He listed to us what he feels are several platforms he hopes will appeal to the new GOP.
“I’ve been proud to work across the aisle to secure crucial direct relief for working families, fight to raise working-class wages and push to reform disastrous trade deals — and I won’t stop just because partisan reporters ignore it. Joe Biden and his party have nothing to offer but the same old failed policies that shipped American jobs to China while propping up monopolies like Amazon, and working Americans of all creeds deserve a better option,” he told the Caller.
Rubio similarly criticized the NYT and listed policy issues he has worked on to build a working-class GOP.
“I don’t expect the NYT to cover what Republicans have done fairly. I doubled the child tax credit, laid the groundwork for a new paid parental leave program, outlined a new vision for Republican economics and created the Paycheck Protection Program. The work to build a patriotic, pro-worker GOP is not going to be on the pages of the NYT. It will be the work of conservatives willing to ignore the cultural elites on the left and the market fundamentalists on the right,” he told the Caller.
Cruz said he has continued to fight to help blue-collar workers since the beginning of the Biden administration, such as introducing legislation to authorize the continued construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. He also noted his office requested a meeting with Biden over his executive orders targeting the domestic energy sector and the thousands of jobs it supports.
“Throughout the COVID pandemic, I have fought to safely re-open the economy to get Americans back to work and kids back in the classroom. From the first day of his presidency, President Biden has implemented many policies that harm American workers, such as rolling back immigration enforcement and increasing foreign labor at a time when many Americans desperately need work, and canceling the Keystone XL pipeline which put 11,000 blue-collar workers out of a job,” Cruz said.
“I have spoken out vigorously about these disastrous policies and will continue doing everything I can to make sure we rebuild our economy and get Americans back to work,” he continued. (RELATED: The Birth Of The Coalition Of Normal People May Be Upon Us)
“It’s no surprise that a newspaper catering to the whimsical fancies of the far left can’t understand why Democrats have lost working class voters in droves. Voters in Arkansas want good jobs and to raise their families in peace — Democrats offer neither,” Cotton told the Caller.
Cotton also has a proposal with Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney to raise the minimum wage.
In comments to the Caller, some gave fairly boilerplate GOP answers that echoed populist sentiments without providing specific policy changes. Barrasso and Thune both said they will defend America’s workers but did not provide specific detail on what policy issues they are pushing to help blue-collar workers.
“As Ranking Member of the Senate Energy Committee, I’ll continue to stand up for America’s energy workers and fight for affordable energy prices in the face of the Biden administration’s assault on traditional energy resources and the jobs they create,” Barrasso said. (RELATED: What Is ‘Realignment’? Here’s What It Means For The Future Of Politics)
Thune criticized Democrats’ policies and listed ideas Republicans should focus on, but did not mention any personal efforts or legislation introduced to provide assistance to workers.
“There’s a growing opportunity for Republicans to show how committed we are to an agenda that prioritizes economic security for all Americans. We will continue to work to support workforce development opportunities, lower the tax and regulatory burden to help create jobs at home, and reduce the cost of living for families. The contrast is clear: This is about pursuing policies that help create good-paying jobs, reduce energy costs, and get kids back in school versus those that borrow and spend and help certain favored groups of workers, like big unions, to the detriment of others,” he said.
McCarthy mentioned the damage caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns and said it is why he and House Republicans introduced legislation to get students back in the classroom.
“We need to restore our way of life from the damage caused by the coronavirus and the accompanying lockdowns. In order to do that, we know that the optimal stimulus plan is to fully reopen our economy, including opening our schools full time. A million parents have left the workforce to take care of children who have been out of school for a year. We owe it to families and children to push for every classroom in America to reopen, which is why House Republicans introduced the Reopen Schools Act, legislation that would ensure education relief funds go to schools that have a plan to reopen. It was blocked by Democrats more than 60 times,” he said.
“Instead, Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion progressive agenda that provides no assurance schools will reopen but will end up costing every taxpayer in the country more than $5000 with little to no return on their investment. Over the next few months, we will continue to build on our Commitment to America agenda that we launched late last year, and we will remain focused on pushing for the solutions that will be pivotal in getting people back to work, kids back in school, and vaccines to those who want it,” McCarthy added.