On election night, the same party that added some $2 trillion to the national debt in order to deliver a giant tax break to the rich and corporate-y celebrated the inroads Donald Trump had made with blue-collar voters.
“We are a working class party now. That’s the future,” tweeted Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri.
Ultimately, Trump had won some 40% of union households, according to The New York Times. And now those blue-collar households are getting a taste of just what Republicans plan to do for them in return for their vote. Zip—at least in terms of tangible things that could improve their lives.
Zero House Republicans voted for President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan that includes $1,400 direct payments intended to help struggling households weather the pandemic, along with increased and extended unemployment benefits for those who have lost their jobs due to coronavirus. There’s plenty more in the American Rescue Plan too, particularly for households with kids. But House GOP leadership whipped votes against the bill—not even allowing its members to vote their districts. Senate GOP leadership has done exactly the same.
Republicans have mainly complained about the price tag of the bill, using it as their main excuse for almost uniformly opposing it. But Republicans didn’t think twice about passing an equally expensive tax cut that mainly benefitted their rich and corporate donors. Nope—helping people who are struggling to put food on the table and keep their heads above water financially is where GOP lawmakers draw the line.
Instead of delivering food and housing and a very basic level of security to all those blue-collar GOP voters, Republicans are serving up a healthy portion of cultural flash points. At the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend, speaker after speaker railed against so-called “cancel culture,” spewed baseless lies about the election being stolen from Trump, and decried big tech for singling out conservatives for unfair treatment.
Fox News is currently on its third day of wall-to-wall coverage of the blockbuster scandal involving a decision by Dr. Seuss Enterprises to stop publishing six books by the famous children’s author that almost no one has ever heard of. The company, which is charged with protecting the legacy of Dr. Seuss, shelved the books because of how they depict Asian and Black people.
It’s perhaps little wonder that a Public Policy Polls survey released this week found 42% of Republicans hadn’t heard of the American Rescue Plan being debated in Congress, including 45% of Trump voters. Any of those blue-collar voters who are glued to Fox News are too hopped up on Seuss-silencing outrage to notice the entire Republican Party lining up to tank a bill explicitly designed by Democrats to help them.
But at least some Republican voters are paying attention. New polling from Democratic firm Navigator Research shows that some 35% of Republicans characterized GOP lawmakers in Congress as “blocking what President Biden is doing to try to improve the economy.” Just 28% of GOP voters said congressional Republicans are “working with President Biden to improve the economy.” Among all voters, 52% said congressional Republicans were working to stymie Biden while only 20% said they were trying to help him.
If Republican lawmakers want to keep those newfound white working-class voters—if they really plan on leveraging a coalition built upon blue-collar voters at its base—at some point they might have to actually champion an initiative or two that will help those voters.
“You’d better be spending a lot more time developing an economic agenda that benefits working people than re-litigating a lost presidential election,” Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, told the Times. “The question is, how long will it take the Republicans to figure out that driving out heretics rather than winning new converts is a losing strategy right now?”
Certainly it’s going to take one more election cycle at the very least. But most likely, it’ll take Republicans suffering such a beating at the polls that their voting coalition is all but destroyed—with sizable defections in a single cycle among both recent blue-collar converts and a large swath of their once-reliable suburban voters.