Jim Geraghty, a writer for National Review, lays out his theory for why so many conservatives have embraced Trump with cult-like adoration and loyalty. At the heart of the matter is a victim mentality by conservatives who have largely lost the culture war. They feel like Democrats “enjoy sticking the thumb” in their eyes every time they win on some issue.
Trump, they believe, is the hero they lacked who plays by the same rules as the Democrats who has ridiculed and belittled them. He’s their hero, the street fighter they need, unencumbered by political correctness and saying out loud what they all are thinking. Maybe he can rally them back from the losses on the battlefield of the culture wars.
But while conservatives may have largely lost the culture wars, they’ve won the economic war. Ever since Reagan, we’ve seen taxes, especially on the wealthy, continue on a downward trajectory. Our social safety gets thinner and thinner while the wallets of the wealthy get thicker and thicker. Some form of supply side economics has survived Democratic presidents and Democratic Congresses, yet the system is still not working for too many Americans.
For the first time in history, the wealthiest Americans pay less taxes than the working class. The Trump tax cuts that Republicans herald are paid largely by a record debt that saddles middle class America with a burden that will hamper their financial well-being for generations. We’ll almost certainly pay for this debt by cutting services that benefit middle and low income families. Trump and McConnell have already been talking about “reforming” social security and Medicare.
Since the beginning of the Reagan revolution we’ve watched pensions for workers become almost non-existent while bonuses for CEOs explode. States like North Carolina cut the unemployment benefits to distressingly low levels, while severance packages for poor performing executives leaves them with healthy retirements if they never want to work again.
In the Great Recession, middle America lost trillions of dollars. In the aftermath, the wealthy have not only recovered, they’ve flourished. Many middle class families never will. But still, our tax structure benefits those who make their money from investments instead of those who make their money from wages. It’s the mark of the Reagan revolution.
Since the 1990s, the US has become an increasingly tolerant country. We’ve embraced marriage equality and given women more reproductive freedom. People of all colors and ethnicities live with less discrimination in our increasingly multi-cultural society. That’s the culture war that the left has won.
However, since Reagan, the economic structure that pushes for less taxes on the wealthy and rewards investment income more than wages has led to massive inequality, what conservatives call economic freedom. That’s the war Republicans won.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >