President Jeb, President Walker, President Christie, President Kasich, President Ryan, and President Rubio, the Republican establishment is now turning once again to the Adlai Stevenson of the GOP – Willard Mitt Romney.
Perhaps nothing is more symptomatic of the GOP establishment’s death drive than their continued embrace of the presidential aspirations of a man who shrank the party in 2012.
But then, these are the same Republican elites who are determined to grant amnesty to 40 million future Democrats. So, obviously party expansion and broad national victories are not their priorities. How else do you explain their bizarre desire to board the S.S. Mittanic one more time?
A full recounting of the unmitigated disaster that was the Romney campaign is beyond the scope of this op-ed. But let’s cut to the chase. Mitt Romney lost because he was unpalatable to working class Americans.
Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics explained in detail how Romney lost the election in large part because he couldn’t win over white working class voters.
That wasn’t an accident. It was by design. An August 2012 op-ed by Matthew Continetti in the Washington Free Beacon outlined the Obama campaign’s “voter suppression” strategy “to disillusion white voters without degrees in the Rust Belt and Mountain West.” Obama calculated that these working class voters would make Romney president if they voted Republican by the same 30-point margin as they did in 2010, but if they were demoralized and alienated by the GOP candidate, they would hand the election to Obama by simply sitting it out.
And that’s exactly what happened. It wasn’t very difficult to turn working class voters against the “King of Bain,” the man who perfected the art of the leveraged buyout which cannibalized industrial towns across America.
Of course, Romney did his best to pretend he was actually a venture capitalist. Among his much-touted job-creation successes was Sports Authority, which just filed for bankruptcy yesterday.
But the real business of Bain was private equity. They made a killing for their shareholders by buying out American companies, loading them with debt, bankrupting them, shuttering their factories, and shipping those jobs overseas. Unfortunately for the GOP establishment, the American electorate isn’t comprised of libertarian think tank pencil necks who worship at the Church of Ayn Rand.
If the demonization of Bain Capital wasn’t enough to finish Romney off in the eyes of working class voters, his “47 percent” comment did the trick. When you trash half of the electorate – a group that includes senior citizens living on fixed incomes, active duty military, and blue-collar Reagan Democrats – as freeloaders who don’t contribute to the country, that isn’t just bad retail politics, that’s downright offensive.
After slinking away in defeat four years ago, Romney is back again as the establishment’s St. George to slay the Trump dragon. But here’s the problem: While Romney shrank the GOP, Trump is expanding it. The primary race this year has blown out 2012 numbers. In three states alone, the Associated Press reports a massive voter increase of “386 percent in Virginia, 261 percent in Arkansas, 154 percent in Tennessee” from what it was just four years ago for Romney.
Trump’s populist, nationalist message is bringing back the disaffected working class voters Romney alienated. On Super Tuesday, Trump did his best among lower income voters making less than $30,000 a year. They’re coming out in droves – and it’s not just the white working class voters or even just working class voters in general. Trump’s base of support reflects every demographic.
As Trende writes, “Trump’s blue-collar populism could theoretically appeal to more Hispanic and especially African-American voters than Romney’s message did by cutting through identity politics and appealing on an economic level.”
That blue-collar populist message is centered on two working class grievances long ignored by the political establishment and their donor class patrons: 1) mass illegal immigration that unfairly pits American workers against cheaper foreign labor, and 2) bad trade agreements that gut American industry and send jobs overseas.
Trump is winning because he’s addressing these vital issues. For years now, average Americans have dialed out of politics because of the dryness and thinness of the political dialogue. Trump has cut right to the vital issues that Americans feel. He talks about building a wall to stop illegal immigration, renegotiating our trade policies to bring back millions of jobs from China and Mexico, and putting a temporary ban on Muslim migration to halt the spread of Islamic terrorism on our shores. His basic themes have driven the narrative back to things that matter to ordinary Americans outside of the Georgetown salons.
None of this is really good news for the financiers, consultants, and commentariat that comprise the GOP establishment.
The financiers, who want cheap labor and don’t care where it comes from or who it hurts, loathe Trump’s trade and immigration policies.
The consultant class would gladly torpedo any candidate who doesn’t need their racket, and a GOP frontrunner who wins seven states on Super Tuesday after spending only $1.6 million is an existential threat to their bottom line.
The commentariat is frantically hash-tagging #NeverTrump! Can you blame them? They built an industry predicated on their status as the self-appointed gatekeepers of authentic conservative thought. A populist paradigm shift upends their carefully crafted business model.
So, now the establishment will lift up their eyes unto the hills of Salt Lake City from whence cometh their help. And it looks as if Mount Romney is the hill they’ve chosen to die on.