Author: Cody Fenwick, AlterNet
Republican lawmakers around the country are making their pitch to the American voters that they should be re-elected to continue their control of the legislature — but there’s a conspicuous absence in their messaging: any sign of a coherent agenda to make the country better.
The reason for this absence is simple. They don’t have one.
As Paul Krugman argued in a New York Times column Monday night, Republicans’ actual policy ideas are deeply unpopular with voters.
“In fact, Republican policies are so unpopular that the party’s candidates are barely trying to sell them. Instead, they’re pretending to stand for things they actually don’t — like protecting health coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions — or trying to distract voters with culture war and appeals to white racial identity,” he wrote. “The G.O.P. has become the party of no ideas.”
Meanwhile, the one legislative success of the party since the 2016 election was the major tax cut bill passed in 2017. Republicans aren’t running on that, though, because voters also hate it. The vast majority of voters recognize that the tax cuts were designed to benefit corporations and the wealthy while driving up the federal deficit — a deficit which the GOP is likely to use as an excuse to cut social programs.
President Donald Trump, the so-called populist, has forced the party into acquiescing into his adopting its one idiosyncratic economic policy preferences: tariffs galore. But as Krugman wrote:
And Trump’s tariffs suffer politically because some Americans are already being hurt, while the supposed beneficiaries have good reason to doubt whether they will be helped. In fact, even as Trump boasts that his steel tariffs have revived the industry, two major steelworker unions have voted to go on strike — because while corporate profits have surged, workers’ wages haven’t.
In short, the American public seems to have wised up; voters seem to have recognized the G.O.P.’s reverse Robin Hood agenda of taking from ordinary families and giving to the rich for what it is.
So what will be the GOP response to this dismal state of affairs? If you said “adopt more popular policy views,” guess again.
Instead, they seem, Krugman explained, to be doubling down on what made Trump a distinctly vile candidate: demonizing people of color.
“And it might work. After all, studies of the 2016 election clearly show that racial resentment, not ‘economic anxiety,’ was what put Trump over the top,” Krugman said. “But if the G.O.P. does win, it will have won very, very ugly. And American politics will become even worse.”