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Image Credit: 

above: Voters wait outside a polling place at one of the few locations with substantial lines of people waiting to cast their ballots on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, in suburban Bucks County. (William Thomas Cain/Alamy Live News)

Correspondence

Giving Up on the Suburbs

The Republican Party’s timid suburban leadership fails to represent its growing working-class base.

In the last week of February, the Pennsylvania Republican Party met to decide whether or not to censure U.S. Senator Pat Toomey for multiple offenses, chiefly for criticizing his Republican colleagues for daring to question whether Joe Biden was truly the winner of the 2020 presidential election.

Toomey had declared that the “evidence is overwhelming that Joe Biden won this election.” To Toomey, the attempt to merely investigate the election, as Senator Ted Cruz and others proposed, undermined the “right of the people to elect their own leaders.” Toomey doubled down on his defense of the election outcome by voting to impeach President Donald Trump for “dishonestly” claiming fraud, and inflaming the passions of his supporters, so as to “hold on to power despite having legitimately lost.”

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above: United States Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania (US Senate Photographic Studio/John Klemmer)

The Pennsylvania GOP’s committee came to no resolution on censuring Toomey, despite nine counties having already censured the two-term Republican senator.

What happened at the state level was reflected nationally: Republican Party leaders pay lip service to voters but when forced to choose sides, they almost always favor the interests of the ruling class. They convince themselves that electoral success depends on serving the powerful at the expense of the powerless. Elected officials and party bureaucrats imagined that Trump was an albatross around the neck of the Republican Party. Remove him from office and the party will once again enjoy the respectability and largess of the governing elite.

This is why some GOP state officials and the Department of Justice refused to enforce election law when evidence of violations was brought to their attention. The theft of the 2020 presidential election, which could not have succeeded without Republican collaboration, is undeniable.

Trump won more votes than any sitting president in U.S. history. He won more minority votes than any Republican presidential candidate since 1960. He won 18 of 19 bellwether counties that have predicted the presidential winner since 1980. His party gained a net 12 congressional seats in the House of Representatives.

Yet despite all of this, Never Trump Republicans like Toomey deny that election anomalies, irregularities, and outright fraud affected the final outcome. Do they really believe that Biden honestly received more votes than Barack Obama, but only in swing states, and only in big cities run by Democratic Party machines?

Are they this ignorant, or just corrupt? Toomey is not running for reelection in 2022 when his term ends. If he did, he would lose in a landslide. Instead, Toomey appears to have decided to use his post to audition for future jobs, by ingratiating himself with the very oligarchs who guaranteed that Biden became the first candidate to win a modern presidential election without conducting a serious campaign.

Toomey and others like him know the truth, but speaking the truth won’t help their careers. They know who holds power in the United States, and it’s not the Trump base of the GOP or the working-class, Trump-supporting MAGA movement.

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In my suburban Philadelphia county, some members of the Republican Party attempted to censure Toomey, but their effort ultimately failed.

One area chair drafted a resolution reflecting the sentiments of his committee members. The resolution acknowledged credible concerns about voter integrity in the 2020 election and pointed to a lack of evidence to prove Trump’s alleged culpability in the Jan. 6 capitol riot. Among other indictments in the proposed resolution, Toomey is said to have “violated the trust of his voters, failed to fulfill and represent a very large majority of motivated Pennsylvania voters, and neglected his duty to represent the party and the will of the people who elected him to represent them.”

With regard to the fallout caused by Toomey’s traitorous behavior, the proposal contends that his actions resulted in Republicans in that county and across Pennsylvania leaving the party, stepping down from party leadership positions, and otherwise changing their political allegiances.

The initial committee reaction was positive. Who among them wants elected GOP officials to give aid and comfort to the enemy for self-serving and dishonest reasons?

But then the county chairman spoke out against the censure. Some committee people changed their opinion without giving much thought to the implications of what their change of heart might bring about. Rather than have an official vote, the author was pressured to withdraw his censure proposal. His reasons, not surprisingly, coincided with the objections of the chairman. Such a vote “should require unanimity,” as if every committee vote is unanimous.

It was claimed that the committee was “united in respect for each other, our opinions, and our right to have those opinions”—as long as those opinions are not expressed in a public debate. Meanwhile, the author implicitly, though perhaps unintentionally, defended Toomey’s “right” to express—and vote upon—his dishonest and destructive opinions without consequences.

The committee asked the Republican faithful in the county to “concentrate on the future, not the past,” as if censuring Toomey would have no impact on who might be nominated and elected in the future, or whether a censure might rally the base in upcoming elections. We were told that Republicans who demand loyalty from party representatives are not prioritizing “fundamental Republican principles.”

Presumably, those principles don’t include any prohibition against betraying your own party by voting with the enemy.

In all likelihood, these excuses were expressed under duress. Why would the chairman go out of his way to protect a quisling senator who betrayed both his party and the Republican electorate of Pennsylvania? The reason lies in what the chairman did not say and could not openly admit: many Republican Party operatives in our county agree with Toomey. They are Never Trumpers and Biden voters who blame Trump for losing elections in the Philadelphia suburbs. These party functionaries have the chairman’s ear. Are there former Republican voters who now identify with the Democratic Party?

The answer is yes. They are wealthy white suburbanites who attended the “best” schools and aspire to be members of the ruling class and cultural elite. They are affluent enough that whoever sits in the White House does not make a difference to their lives as long as the right people hold the real power. Their objections to Trump are aesthetic. He is unsophisticated and boorish, like the working-class “deplorables” who attend his rallies or the smelly Walmart people who offended FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Intellectually hobbled by hubris and pride, these elitists uncritically accept the lies spread by corporate media because the faux news confirms their neoliberal and globalist prejudices. They are not conservatives but establishmentarians who associate the progressive left with the cultural advantage and economic privilege they covet. But does this mean that Trump is to blame for our county’s electoral misfortunes? This answer is more complicated.

Elite culture is progressive. As more suburbanites seek out the advantages that come with wealth, they increasingly identify with the cultural left. People who are not particularly conservative will not stay in the Republican Party if the Democratic alternative offers their class more benefits. When you hold the levers of power, you can distribute more patronage.

The Republican Party was never particularly conservative. But as the left gains even more cultural and economic advantages the GOP has less to offer materialistic and progressive suburbanites. As the party expands its working-class base state-wide, the suburban ruling class’s alienation from the Republican Party will continue. If the party abandons the working and middle class to win back a small percentage of the voting population, they will continue to lose elections. But there is no local effort to expand the tent.

A Republican neighbor and veteran recently expressed to me his dismay at the incompetence of party leaders: “the GOP couldn’t sell nookie on a troop transport.”

Republicans’ disapproval of their party’s leaders goes back decades. Six years before Donald Trump announced his challenge to the unpopular Republican establishment, Angelo Codevilla, in a July 2010 American Spectator essay, “America’s Ruling Class,” reported on the disparity between Republican and Democratic polling results on the question of whether members thought their party represented them well. Only a fourth of Republican respondents approved of their own party’s officeholders while most Democrats approved of theirs.

“This means that Democratic politicians are the ruling class’s prime legitimate representatives,” wrote Codevilla, and that “the ruling class has a party, the Democrats. But some two-thirds of Americans—a few Democratic voters, most Republican voters, and all independents—lack a vehicle in electoral politics.”

Most of these disenchanted and disenfranchised voters eventually rallied to Trump. By fighting for their interests, he received historic levels of Republican approval while attracting new Democratic and unaffiliated working- and middle-class support.

The 2020 data on financial contributions confirms that a class divide separates the two political parties. Dominic Green provided some numbers in “Oligarchy in America: Crossing the Rubicon of Class” written for the February 2021 issue of The Spectator. According to Green, “residents in zip codes with a median household income of at least $100,000 donated $486 million to Joe Biden’s campaign and $167 million to Donald Trump’s. The thousand or so zip codes where at least 65 percent of residents have graduated from college gave $478 million to Biden and $104 million to Trump.” Trump raised more money than Biden in zip codes below the national median household income of $68,703, an advantage of $53.4 million, and those with a minority of college graduates,where Trump led by almost $40 million. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Wall Street was considerably more generous to Biden than it was to Trump. The ruling oligarchy knows who will do their bidding and it is not Donald Trump’s Republican Party.

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The suburbs are not the GOP stronghold they once were. When asked about the GOP’s call “to win back the suburbs,” Rich Baris of Big Data Poll estimated that for every suburban seat the GOP might gain with an anti-populist message it would lose five seats across the rest of the country.

“Some of the voters you do have the possibility of winning back are going to swing back with the natural pendulum of politics,” Baris said. “But the truth is the suburbs don’t look the way they did years ago.”

Immigrants who arrived over the last 10 years and settled in the suburbs were not eligible to vote until recently. These naturalized citizens, predominantly Asians with advanced degrees, are “the worst Republican voting block ever,” Baris said. However, while this is a growing minority in the suburbs, it is still small in comparison to the rest of the population. “So your future is not a slow-growing professional class,” but “a racially diverse growing working class,” argues Baris.

The single largest group is the working-class Hispanics who Trump won in numbers far exceeding that of previous Republican presidential contenders. Because it is the fastest growing demographic in the country, it would be a strategic blunder to sacrifice these hard-won gains, as Baris puts it “for the possibility that you may win back a soccer mom. Which you probably won’t win back.”

This assessment was confirmed in an NBC poll released in late February on “Meet the Press.” Since 2010, working class support as a whole for the GOP grew by 12 percent while support for the Democratic Party declined by 8 percent. This growth in support crosses racial lines, with support from black blue-collar workers more than doubling from 5 percent to 12 percent, and Hispanic working-class support rising by 13 percentage points to a total of 36 percent in 2020. White working class support has now reached 57 percent from 45 percent in 2010.

In a March interview in New York magazine, Obama pollster David Shor provided further evidence of the shift in minority working-class support to the GOP and credited Trump for securing their votes after his nomination in 2016. Trump drew 9 percent of Hispanic voters and perhaps up to 5 percent of Asian voters away from the increasingly immoderate Democratic Party in 2020. The Democrats saw their support among college-educated whites increase by 7 percent because “highly educated people” hold more extreme ideological views than the typical minority working-class voter.

 

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source: NBC News poll

 

Shor admits that “white liberals are more left-wing than Black and Hispanic Democrats on pretty much every issue.” Because of growing minority working-class support for the GOP since 2016, Shor believes “the Trump era has been very good for the Republican Party” and “the GOP has very rosy long-term prospects for dominating America’s federal institutions” if the Trump coalition endures.

If the GOP does not capitalize on these gains, they will continue to lose elections. Such a turn of events will not be Trump’s fault. Chasing after pseudo-educated, rich white suburbanites who don’t like you, while ignoring the wishes of your own constituency and ignoring the interests of potentially new working- and middle-class supporters, is a strategy destined to fail.

In midterm elections, the party that does not occupy the White House typically gains ground. But these victories will not materialize if the GOP hides the party’s attractive nationalist-populist message under a basket. Protecting Toomey and others like him from censure will only please the GOP’s enemies while alienating everyone else.

John M. Vella

John M. Vella is an acquisitions editor at Sophia Institute Press and Crisis Publications. He previously served as editor of Crisis Magazine and managing editor of Modern Age: A Quarterly Review. He earned his Master's in History from Villanova in 2010.

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Our ruling elites do not understand power. They think bribery and cheating will get them everything they THINK they want. We live in a dark World where we have enemies who wish to kill us, either physically, or ideologically (our chosen way of life; how WE wish to organize our patterns of living). We face an enemy in China who believes that power comes from the barrel of a gun. This requires gunsmiths, machinists, power tools, and a Tool & Die industry to design the manufacturing process. They have worked diligently to acquire OUR technological knowledge, OUR investment capital, thus OUR factories & jobs, to achieve this end. They have bamboozled OUR ruling elites into profiting from a seditious act of INVESTING in their operation, kicking US blue collar workers to the curb in the process. They could hardly do worse if they worked directly for Joseph Stalin.
 
 

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