The 'Big Tent'? Republicans Didn't Build That

Posted: Feb 11, 2021 12:01 AM
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The 'Big Tent'? Republicans Didn't Build That

Source: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, complained in a recent interview with The Hill that she feels like a minority in her own party. Kaptur shared data showing that 19 of the 20 wealthiest congressional districts in the country are now represented by Democrats, and she quoted unnamed Democratic colleagues whose callous comments reflected a complete lack of sympathy for or understanding of blue-collar Americans. And it isn't just working-class whites who feel they are being left behind by Democrats. Blacks and Hispanics voted Republican in much larger numbers in 2020.

Republicans see this as something of an opportunity.

Immediately after the November election, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said, "This election cycle has made one thing clear: The Republican Party is now the party of the American worker." Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted, "#Florida & the Rio Grande Valley showed the future of the GOP ... A party built on a multi-ethnic multi-racial coalition of working AMERICANS."

But if Republicans think they can be the party of the "little guy" by erasing former President Donald Trump's legacy, they're just wrong.

In 2016, Trump spoke directly to Black Americans and asked them how their lives had improved by voting for Democrats. He challenged them to vote for him, saying, "What do you have to lose?"

Once elected, Trump prioritized criminal justice reform and better opportunities for people reentering society after incarceration through laws like the First Step Act. He drew attention to the plight of Alice Marie Johnson, commuted her sentence and later granted a full pardon. His economic policies contributed to some of the lowest unemployment rates for Blacks on record. He was a strong supporter of historically Black colleges or universities and an advocate for restoring $250 million in funding for them. He enjoyed unprecedented support from some of the country's most visible Black pastors.

Few Republicans have engaged in this kind of outreach to the Black community. They've been much too timid, not daring to push back against the left's designation of them as racists and bigots.

The same is true with Hispanic Americans. With few exceptions, the GOP has left unchallenged the left's lies that Hispanics are put off by the enforcement of immigration laws and don't want a free market system. But Trump understood that many Hispanics immigrated here legally. Significant numbers fled countries like Cuba and Venezuela, whose economies were destroyed by socialism. Many are pro-life and want religious liberties defended. None want a United States filled with MS-13 gang members and other wanton criminals who are not deported because of lax immigration law enforcement.

Trump appealed to labor by focusing on bringing manufacturing back to America's shores, increasing job opportunities and wages, and lowering taxes. Trump is not the first Republican to appeal to this Democratic base. Ronald Reagan did it 40 years ago. Democrats should have lost this demographic permanently. But Republicans stammer in the face of Democrats' self-congratulatory lies about being champions of the downtrodden -- all the while Democrats suck up to billionaires and paint the working class as ignorant and bigoted.

Trump also understood that the overwhelming majority of Americans support law enforcement, especially Americans in neighborhoods where lawlessness is a plague. Trump called out the hypocrisy of Black Lives Matter activists and others who egged on looters and arsonists who wrought havoc in Black neighborhoods, often destroying minority-owned businesses in the process.

Most notably, Trump pushed back -- hard -- against the bias and lies of the Democrats and their shills in the press -- something conservative voters have been begging Republicans to do for years, instead of letting the left pin them into little corners, where they spend all their time apologizing for existing instead of advocating for better policies. From the time he entered the race in 2016, Trump was teaching the GOP how to bypass the media and appeal directly to Americans, a lesson that the left is terrified the GOP might actually learn.

It needn't be. As the current "insurrection" charade and "impeachment" circus show (yet again), far too many Republicans act like beaten dogs who never learn anything except how to grovel for scraps of the left's approval. The worst of them will vote to impeach, questionable constitutionality notwithstanding. But even most of the Republicans who won't do so speak about "moving on" and breathe sighs of relief that things will go back to "normal."

Yes, with Trump gone, Republicans are back on familiar territory. They parrot the Democrats' party lines ("There was no fraud"; "This was a free and fair election"; "Trump's behavior was wrong"). They turn on one of their own (Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene) at Democrats' urging. They tut-tut at the nation's Capitol being turned into a demilitarized zone, complete with chain link fences and razor wire, tens of thousands of armed troops and military checkpoints -- all to bolster Democrats' latest narrative that Trump incited an attempted coup. (Hey, folks. There was a real coup in Myanmar last week, and you could still hold an outdoor aerobics class in the middle of it.) They issue stern tweets as Democrats use their puppet president to cram "laws" down our throats and erode our rights via an unprecedented number of executive orders.

Voters want nothing to do with what national Republicans consider "normal." In fact, there is a powerful groundswell of support for a new third party, and many hope that Trump will launch such an effort.

Right on cue, sober voices warn that a third party would splinter the right and leave Democrats in power indefinitely.

I've got news for them: The party is already splintered, and Democrats have all the political power -- at least in the federal government. Unless the GOP shows some spine about fighting election fraud, that's likely to spread to the states. (Furthermore, even when Democrats aren't in power, it's hard to tell the difference.)

Here's a fact: Voters have lost confidence in the Republican Party. And Trump didn't do that; Republicans did.