Republicans could face devastating losses in this November’s midterm elections. Predictably, the never-Trump crowd and pundits will blame the president for the debacle.
The blame Trump impulse will be strong because big and embarrassing losses are looming. For example, Republicans face competitive governors’ races in the supposedly “red” states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Georgia, and South Dakota.
Moreover, polls predict Republican losses in the governors’ contests in Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, and Michigan, The Los Angeles Times observes. Those losses could embarrass; because Trump carried four of the states; Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan, two years ago.
An even greater embarrassment for Republicans could loom in Kansas. Notably, Democrats are doing well in both House of Representatives and Governors’ races in that supposedly Conservative bastion. For example, a New York Times poll has Democrat Sharice Davids leading by 51% to 43% in the 3rd District in the Kansas City suburbs.
Additionally, Democrats are doing well in supposedly safe Republican House districts all over the country. For example Democrat Mike Levin is leading 51% to 41% in California’s 49th Congressional District, The New York Times estimates. In addition, U.S. Rep Leonard Lance (R) is leading by just one point in New Jersey’s 7th District, The Times claims.
Establishment Republicans are the Problem not Trump
The natural behavior inside the Grand Old Party (GOP) will be to blame President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) for the loss. Trump is a readymade scapegoat because of his buffoonish behavior; racism, sexism, colorful personality, sleazy reputation, lousy poll numbers, and moderate stands on many issues.
On the other hand, Trump won in 2016 despite all those shortcomings. Therefore, the Republicans’ real problem lies elsewhere.
I think the GOP’s true problem is an establishment and elected officials devoted to an unpopular neoliberal orthodoxy. To clarify, that neoliberalism comprises mindless faith in the free market, rugged individualism, demonization of welfare and the poor, and a belief that all taxes and government regulations are evil.
Neoliberalism is the Problem Not Trump
In practice, this neoliberalism comprises anemic government spending, mindless tax cuts, demolition of social programs, corporate welfare, and privatization of everything else. Not surprisingly, the only portion of that agenda with any popular appeal is tax cuts.
Incredibly, neoliberalism is still the Republican orthodoxy despite its unpopularity. For example, Republicans are still campaigning for the privatization of Social Security, and the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid.
Americans, meanwhile, have voted with their actions on those issues. In particular, 67.609 million Americans were receiving Social Security payments in August 2018.
Additionally, 73.5 million Americans participated in Medicaid in 2017 and 56.8 million Americans were taking part in Medicaid in September 2018. Therefore, 141 million Americans take part in two government health insurance programs. Conversely, opposition to all government health insurance is still Republican Party dogma.
Republicans mindlessly bash Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; even though most of their voters benefit from at least one of those programs. Then, incredibly Republicans wonder why they are losing elections in Kansas.
Trump’s Biggest Problem is Neoliberalism
President Trump’s greatest failure politically is his embrace of neoliberalism. Correspondingly, Trump has bent over backwards in his efforts to appease the worst; most neoliberal, elements of the GOP.
For example, Trump has denied Climate Change, demonized science, gutted environmental regulations, and mindlessly promoted fossil fuels. As a result, voters will blame the Republicans for future catastrophes like fires and hurricanes.
Moreover, Trump has made neoliberal dogma his official policy. To emphasize, the Donald appointed anti-public education fanatic Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education. In particular, Trump even privatized two national monuments.
Worst of all, Trump has turned foreign and military policy over to a small cadre of neoconservative imperialists. To enumerate, Trump’s neocons are promoting a trade war with China, mindless military intervention everywhere, war with Iran, and pointless “cold war” with Russia.
Obviously, none of this was what the working-class Trump supporters in their Make America Great Again hats voted for. To clarify, back in 2016 Candidate Trump defended Social Security and Medicare, hinted at single-payer healthcare on the campaign trail, and made his opposition to military interventions clear.
Yet the Donald’s administration keeps delivering more of the same old neoliberalism Americans hate. Perhaps the forgotten promises are the real cause of Trump’s lousy poll numbers.
Neoliberalism is destroying the GOP can Trump Save It
The Republicans’ real problem is neoliberalism; not Donald J. Trump, and his white working-class fan club.
Take Kansas, for example, that state fell from 12th in income growth to 41st under the extreme neoliberal administration of Governor Sam Brownback (R). Kansas state revenues are down 11.6% under tax cuts Brownback signed, The Chicago Tribune observes.
Kansas voters have apparently had enough of neoliberalism. For instance, Kansas legislators reversed many of Brownback’s tax cuts in 2017. Kansas Republicans overrode Brownback’s veto of the tax cut repeal.
Disturbingly, Congressional Republicans passed and Trump signed a similar package of tax cuts in 2017, The Guardian notes. The neoliberal destroyers have simply moved from the state houses to Capitol Hill.
Therefore, the disease that is destroying the Republican Party is neoliberalism not Trumpism. Obviously, Trump’s greatest failing is his inability to resist neoliberalism.
Can Trump Overcome Neoliberalism?
The only hope for Trump and the GOP is overcoming neoliberalism. Unfortunately, dumping neoliberalism will be far harder than you might think.
In particular, most of the technocrats a Republican president needs to run an administration are neoliberals. To explain, one of the greatest failings of American government is the lack of a professional civil service to execute policy.
Instead of civil servants, presidents rely upon partisan experts from “think tanks” financed by special interests for advice and expertise. As a result, neoliberal think tanks like the Heritage Foundation control Republican administrations.
Even if Trump wanted to implement moderate polices; he would have a hard time finding people to execute them, under those circumstances. Trump could turn to liberal think tanks for help; but it is doubtful their alumni will answer his phone calls. Liberal technocrats will stay away from the Trump presidency because they want jobs in the next Democratic administration.
Beyond the administration, Trump faces a Republican Congress full of neoliberal extremists. In particular, neoliberal stalwarts control many of the committees and write the budget.
Will Trump Dismantle Neoliberalism in America?
In the final analysis, the GOP’s best hope for overcoming neoliberalism is President Trump working with a Democratic congress. To summarize, Trump could moderate his stances on issues like foreign policy and healthcare.
Moreover, Trump will show Republicans care about average people by signing Democratic legislation. For instance, I think Trump will sign a “Medicare for all law” (single-payer healthcare) law.
Okay this sounds extreme, but how will an unpopular Trump facing a stiff challenge in the Republican primaries and potential impeachment behave? I predict Dealing Donald will compromise with a Democratic Congress. For example, Trump will probably sign a repeal or partial repeal of his signature tax cuts.
Consequently, I think Trump will turn as far left as necessary to appease Congressional Democrats. The neoliberals at The National Review will hate that but in my mind it is Trump’s only logical strategy for reelection.
With all things considered, Trump will probably be the President who dismantles American neoliberalism. Notably, Trump is already dismantling the neoliberal free trade agenda. I predict the Donald will move much farther left without the constraint of a Republican Congress.
So please stop blaming Trump for the potential Republican collapse. Given these points; the Republican catastrophe results from 40 years of unrestrained neoliberalism.
The neoliberals wrecked the Grand Old Party. Donald J. Trump is the poor guy trying to clean up the mess the neoliberals left in their wake. Blaming him is petty and pointless.