Henry Olsen discussed in his latest book, The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue Collar Conservatism, that the lessons Republicans need to learn from Ronald Reagan and Trump’s victory in November are that to be successful “ideas must be shown to address the concerns and interests of the people you are asking to advance them with their votes.” Olsen asserts, “There are lessons in that for today’s conservatives in appealing to a broader electorate.”
Chris Buskirk: I am Chris Buskirk. He is Seth Leibsohn. Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show. We are joined by Henry Olsen. Henry is one of my very favorite scholars working and writing in the country today. He’s written a very important new book called The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue Collar Conservatism.
Henry, you are one of the … I was going to say one of the few, but maybe you were actually the only person looking at the numbers who called the election right back in November. Are you one of the few, or are you the only? Because I can’t think of anybody else now that I think of it.
Henry Olsen: I am the only significant person, yeah.
Chris Buskirk: Right. So, there’s that of course. Nate Silver made millions off it. I hope you do, too.
Henry Olsen: From your lips to God’s ears.
Chris Buskirk: But the book is a down payment here, Henry. I really like this book. I’ve just gotten it. I have not read the whole thing yet. I’m going to be on a plane tonight. I hope to try and finish it tonight, but I guess let’s start … Let’s kind of the back story here. How did you come to a place where this became clear to you that there was such a thing as the working class Republican? How did you come to have a somewhat heterodox view of Ronald Reagan? One that I think is correct, by the way, but how did this work out in your mind?
Henry Olsen: It started years ago when I was trying to come to grips with the election of Barack Obama. I started to look at how was it that Reagan brought Republicans back from an even worse debacle than was the case after the 2008 elections, and what I learned turned my understanding upside down. I learned who the real Reagan really was. That he wasn’t Barry Goldwater with better sense of politics, but he, in fact, had a blend of views that were highly original, that allowed him to talk to people that wouldn’t listen to other conservatives. I came to understand how the working class voter thinks and looks at politics, which is different, in a way, than partisans of either party take a look at it, and I’ve been looking at that ever since.
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