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Why Republican party must focus on nationalist, socially conservative agenda to win 2020 election

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ANALYSIS

July 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A 2017 report by an organization called The Democracy Voter Study Group found that in the last presidential race Donald Trump won socially conservative, economically liberal voters who previously supported Democrats.

The upcoming 2020 elections present the Republican Party with an historic opportunity to build on this newly forged coalition of blue-collar moderates and religious Americans.

If the GOP chooses to ignore these voters’ concerns about the effects of hyper-globalization and growing economic inequality and instead treats Trump’s presidency and the populist re-alignment he’s ushered in as a mere blip on the screen the party will fade into obscurity. Demographic changes alone will ensure that that occurs.

However, if Republicans embrace the president’s nationalist conservative agenda and focus their energies on fixing unfair trade deals, endless wars, abortion, rising medical costs, social media censorship, sex trafficking, infrastructure, transgenderism, and unchecked immigration the party of Lincoln has the potential to dominate American politics for decades to come.

National Review editor Rich Lowry spoke about the future of conservatism at the Aspen Ideas Festival several weeks ago.

“The Republican Party is never going to be the same,” he said. “And I don’t think it’s going back to what it was. I don’t think there will ever be a figure like Trump again…but I do think the party will have to be more populist, will have to be more nationalist, socially conservative, not quite as libertarian.” It will “have to think through what it means to be a working-class oriented party. Not just the white working classes.”

Lowry is absolutely right. Republicans have to run candidates in the 2020 elections who can solidify for the party the blue-collar, working class voters Trump convinced to support him instead of Hillary Clinton. Tucker Carlson, the Buckley-esque de facto leader of this populist brand of conservatism, implicitly endorsed that strategy last month on his Fox News show.

“There isn’t a caucus that represents where most Americans actually are: nationalist on economics, fairly traditional on the social issues,” he lamented.

“Imagine a politician who wanted to make your healthcare cheaper, but wasn’t ghoulishly excited about partial birth abortion. Imagine someone who genuinely respected the nuclear family, and sympathized with the culture of rural America, but at the same time was willing to take your side against rapacious credit card companies bleeding you dry at 35 percent interest.”

“Would you vote for someone like that?” he asked. “My gosh. Of course. Who wouldn’t? That candidate would be elected in a landslide. Every single time. Yet that candidate is the opposite of pretty much everyone currently serving in congress.”

Carlson made similar comments at the recently concluded National Conservatism conference in Washington D.C. where during his talk, “Big Business Hates Your Family," he excoriated libertarian economic principles.

Protecting blue-collar workers and their families

Perhaps it’s my Catholic faith that attracts me to Bobby Kennedy (by far the most devout of all the Kennedy brothers), but I can’t help but think he can act as a sort of guide for nationalist conservativism in the years ahead. 

I could be wrong about that but consider that in 1968, Kennedy, who by then was the father of 10 children, gave a speech at the University of Kansas about his opposition to the Vietnam War. The most frequently cited part of his now famous remarks is when he shared his thoughts on economics.

While praising America’s schools, families, and civic patriotism, Kennedy also observed that, “too much and for too long America seems to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.” Our gross national product, he added, “if we judge the United States of America by that…counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.”

The GDP, he continued, does not consider “the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play...it measures neither our wit nor our courage...it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

Kennedy was a man of vast wealth from Massachusetts but he appealed to working class folks and non-whites because his populist message spoke to their hearts and made them feel part of something bigger, something purposeful. He was loved by the African-American community. He spent time with Cesar Chavez (a vehement opponent of illegal immigration). And he stood up for workers abused by corporations. 

Why are Republican lawmakers, many of whom claim to be Christian, not doing more of this? Why are conservatives who say they are “pro-family” and “pro-Trump” accepting campaign contributions from groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the loudest voices in Washington for open borders and cheap, illegal immigrant labor

Republican elites seem to prefer talking only about market share, dividends, stock swaps and the consumer price index instead of addressing the harmful effects of, say, internet porn consumption, our nation-wide addiction to Facebook, the impact absent dads have on young boys, how universal daycare is bad for families, and how drag queen story hours warp the minds of children.

Conservatives should be as concerned with big business as they are with big government. A truly free market respects the human person as a creature of God instead of viewing him or her as a piece of machinery in service of maximizing capital gains for shareholders. The Republican Party must elect nationalist politicians with a more tradition-minded, solidarity-focused outlook. They must run candidates passionate about protecting middle-class American workers and their communities. Not only is a victory in 2020 likely assured for the party if it does that, blue-collar voters squeemish about the extreme pro-infanticide, pro-LGBT policies pushed by the Democratic Party would become its new base, probably for good.

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Stephen Kokx

Stephen Kokx is LifeSite's Assistant Director of Digital Marketing. He has previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office for Peace and Justice. A former community college instructor, Stephen has written and spoken extensively about Catholic social teaching. His essays have appeared in such outlets as Catholic Family News and CatholicVote.org.