The Return of the GOP’s Reagan Wing

Frank Lindsey, wears a Veterans hat surrounded by flags as he attends a Veterans Day parade Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, in Montgomery, Ala.(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Putting aside any current candidate, whether Mike Huckabee or any one else, there is justification for calling this something akin to the return of the Reagan Wing of the GOP. As National Journal writes:

If you listen to the rhetoric from the GOP elite in Washington, Republicans view immigration as an unquestioned asset, support free trade agreements, and believe entitlement reform is necessary to get the country’s fiscal house in order. But those reformist positions embraced by party leaders threaten to alienate a significant constituency within the Republican party, one that has been growing in recent years. That populist faction of the party—call it the Huckabee wing—is one that Republicans are overlooking at their own peril.

Flashback to the New York Times in 1984:

But for all his love of the high life, Mr. Stone is one of the Republican Party’s experts on blue-collar ethnic voters. In fact, he is the regional director of the Reagan re-election campaign in 13 states in the Northeast and Midwest.

It is his view that traditional Democratic blue-collar voters again hold a key to President Reagan’s re-election chances over all and particularly his chances of carrying New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. ”When they vote for us,” he said, ”we win. When they vote against us, we lose.”

At the moment, says Mr. Stone, who comes from a New York State working-class heritage, the prospects are good that Mr. Reagan will repeat his 1980 performance with the blue- collar constituency.

While it is populist, when compared to the Washington elites that run the Republican Party, this growing force is also much more conservative. As National Journal warns, the GOP ignores it at their peril. A Jeb Bush will not win over this wing and, consequently, would lose to Hillary Clinton in a general election, just as Mitt Romney lost to Obama.

Public polling shows that the populist sentiment within the Republican party is rising, and is ripe for the picking from a candidate willing to exploit it. As Democrats have shed many of its working-class supporters during the Obama administration, many of them have found a home with the Republicans—and given the party a more blue-collar flavor.


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