Toward a Winning American Majority

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 October 17, 2017|
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The world is obsessed with Donald Trump. Hardly a day goes by without my receiving an email, a call, or a tweet from someone, somewhere who wants me to tell him what the president will do next. I always oblige as best I can, but the fact is these queries aren’t often about the real story unfolding before our eyes. The important question for anyone interested in America’s future is not “what will Trump do next?”; it is “what are the terms on which America’s next dominant political coalition will be formed?”

President Trump is an important, even decisive figure in this, but as a democratic leader he can do no more than what public opinion permits. He can shape it, he can mold it, but he cannot ignore it or battle against it. What he can do, and what any politician who aspires to be transformative tries to do, is to build from the disparate strands of opinion a strong coalition that shares some common principles and is defined against a common enemy. With that in place, a leader can truly make America great again.

I’ve been writing and speaking about this topic for the last eight years in columns, articles, and talks, as well as in two books on the Republican Party and on Ronald Reagan. American Greatness’ editors have read my work and invited me to share my thoughts with you as a bi-weekly columnist starting today. Since the American Greatness project—how to build, in theory and in practice, a durable and coherent political coalition conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all Americans deserve respect and dignity—is near to my heart, it was easy for me to accept their offer.

Over the coming months, I will try to explain how such a coalition represents the views and dreams of the vast majority of Americans; what challenges exist in bringing that coalition together; and what sort of policies are needed both to unite the different factions within that potential coalition and to define future battles in ways that both advance core principles and keeps a common foe in sight. Sometimes I will discuss these ideas in light of recent events, while other times I will simply talk about the issues and opinions that are important even if they are not currently in the news. In all cases, I will keep my eye on the ball: what does America need to be great and which Americans need to unite to keep it great.

You might be surprised by how little I will discuss the president. That will be by design. His views and personality will be important in how these forces are divided or combined, but he himself is not the reason we are having the debates we are having as a nation. He won his election because he responded to overlooked and latent political demands, not because he created those demands with his campaign. He is a demand-side, not a supply-side, figure.

We cannot control what Trump does, nor can we even influence it if we do not know what we want. Those of us who desire an America that works towards fulfilling her destiny as the nation best suited to develop and enhance human nature and human happiness must know how to get there on our own. If President Trump were to leave office tomorrow for whatever reason, we must know how to act. We can only do that if, in addition to knowing who we are for and whom we are against, we also know what we are for. This has to be about more than personalities.

I am for a political movement that builds on, but is not coextensive with, the existing conservative movement. The conservative movement is currently not a movement at all, but rather is an alliance of discrete groups with differing and competing agendas. They agree on what they are against: transformation of America into a centralized, government-directed state, open denigration of religion and traditional values, and surrender of American freedom and security to determined foes abroad. But they strongly disagree on what they are for. This, not feckless leadership in Congress or a directionless administration, is why the current Republican majority is unable to do much of anything even when it has control.

The current political configuration on the Right has another essential flaw: it does not represent the majority of Americans. Much has been made of President Trump’s ability to win millions of votes among whites without a college degree in the Midwest and other places rarely visited by our nation’s elites. Republicans win these voters at the statewide level, but they rarely win them nationally because these voters don’t want current national Republican policies. Instead, they are the swing voters in American politics and have been since at least the election of 1896. As I will explain in the future, they sit between the traditional “Left versus Right” politics, and hence are the only group who can join with one partisan coalition and make it a majority. The fact that they have not done so in the past 20 years speaks volumes as to why our politics are divisive, corrosive, and indecisive.

Ronald Reagan always understood this. He told Americans when he endorsed Barry Goldwater in the television speech that launched his political star that “there is no such thing as Left or Right, there is only up or down.” There can be no winning an American majority that does not recognize those who still believe that maxim, and feel betrayed by political classes that see only left or right. My column will be dedicated to the idea that Americans want and would vote for the “up party” if only they had one to vote for. In the coming months, I hope to build for you a vision of what that up party looks like, stands for, and represents. For such a party, only such a party, one that unites what is common for all Americans regardless of color, creed, or gender, can maintain and enhance the virtues that truly make America great.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

About the Author:

Henry Olsen
Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a think tank in Washington D.C. He is also an editor at UnHerd.com where he writes about populism and politics around the world. He is the co-author, with Dante Scala, of The Four Faces of the Republican Party (Palgrave, 2015) and is the author of The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism (HarperCollins, 2017).
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61 Comments

  1. Anne Miller October 18, 2017 at 5:42 am

    Good start.

  2. dedonuka October 18, 2017 at 6:49 am

    We Deplorables DO know what we are FOR

    • Hominid October 21, 2017 at 8:01 am

      Which is what?

  3. James Hendrixs October 18, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Its NEVER been left to right those who pull our strings, its about the rich keeping their wealth and power from the mob of wretched beggars who would strip it from them, to squander on selfish pursuits!! Platoch told us that the great flaw of democracy was that the poor would unite to vote away the rightful wealth of the elites to fill their bellies!!

  4. John Milton October 18, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Not one word about race.

    • James Hendrixs October 18, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      Perhaps you would like to add your two cents about race??

      • Joe Blow October 21, 2017 at 3:13 pm

        You should always try to win?

  5. Cybergeezer October 18, 2017 at 9:16 am

    I sincerely hope you can illustrate the dichotomy between the Republican agenda and the ideology of The Republic.
    For that is whom We are truly supposed to be:
    Citizens of a REPUBLIC.

    • Jay Carlson October 21, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Cybergeezer which republic do you seek to be a citizen of? You fly the flag of the defeated confederate traitors to the republic my Union forefathers died defending. You have disrespected the tea party patriots by associating they’re symbol of constitution and freedom with the flag of failed rebellious slavery lovers. And before you go down the path of Southern heritage the Slaves and their ancestors are/ where of Southern heritage. I stand for the United States and for freedom for all citizens. True patriots never fly rebel rags!

      • Cybergeezer October 22, 2017 at 2:26 pm

        Low life’s like you couldn’t understand any way, so there’s no point in any response.
        “Alexa; block this dummy”.

  6. Altalena October 18, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Speaking of UP, DJIA now at 23,157, and GDP growth over 3% the last quarter, for the first time in two+ years.

    I think most of us save for the grievance-peddlers and the dormitory shriekers can get quite comfortably behind that sort of UP.

    • Hominid October 21, 2017 at 8:03 am

      Same “ups” Obama had.

      • Altalena October 21, 2017 at 8:24 am

        Really? The market added 5,000 points in a year after Obama’s election in 2008? WHEN?

        • Hominid October 21, 2017 at 11:16 am

          You’re kidding, right – you can’t be that ignorant. The DOW tripled under Obama. You stupid Trumpsuckers just don’t get it. The stock market going up is NOT a sign of progress for YOU, you halfwit.

          • Altalena October 21, 2017 at 12:03 pm

            Aah, call names when you’re busted on a fact. 7949 when Obama took office; 19732 when he left, which is *not tripling*, and more to the point, this was over EIGHT YEARS (also after the market plummeted when Obama took office), meaning an average gain of under 1500 points a year. The rate of increase under Trump is 3 times that.

            http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/101314/where-was-dow-jones-when-obama-took-office.asp

            But let’s hear some more of your obvious evasions. “Your a dum-hed, ObBamma didn’t kill JFK!!!”

            “You stoopit Trumplerizer, Obamma Never explodded the SUN!!”

            See ya.

          • mabele October 21, 2017 at 3:39 pm

            First 100 days of Obama, stock market rose 8.8%

            First 100 days of Trump, stock market rose 5.5%

          • Altalena October 21, 2017 at 3:45 pm

            If you want to cherry-pick, how’d the S&P do after the election of Obama to his inauguration? Down almost 20%; Trump up 5.8% during the same period:

            http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-the-trump-rally-stacks-up-to-other-postelection-stock-market-gains-2017-01-18

          • mabele October 21, 2017 at 7:09 pm

            The ultimate form of cherry-picking is to compare Obama’s 8 years Trump’s first 10 months. But maybe you’re not perceptive enough to realize that.

          • Altalena October 22, 2017 at 4:40 am

            The one who first attempted a comparison with Obama’s stock market performance record on the thread wasn’t even me, Einstein. Read the thread. And learn what “extrapolation” and “interpolation” are, after you figure out what “cherry-picking” really is. (Hint: we don’t HAVE 8 years of Trump’s DJIA or S & P performance yet, and *you* were the one who vomited up the random “100-day” metric). Then you can take up study of the vexing ass-elbow dichotomy. Christ, what an imbecile. See ya.

          • mabele October 22, 2017 at 5:59 am

            Right. We don’t have eight years of Trump data yet to compare with Obama’s. But we DO have first-100-days data for both, so it makes far more sense to compare apples to apples rather than apples to oranges.

            I think it’s pretty evident who the “imbecile” is here, though I don’t generally like to go in for ad hominem attacks. On the other hand, it seems to be the main way you Trump supporters argue nowadays. Everyone in the country other than you is always wrong about everything, all 60% or so of the adult voting population – indeed, not only that but unpatriotic, un-American, amoral, Communist / Marxist / socialist, and just all around satanically evil –

          • Hominid October 22, 2017 at 3:29 am

            So, you’re dishonest, too.

  7. John Willson October 19, 2017 at 5:29 am

    Just a humble suggestion: Please refer to him as President Trump. The vulgarity of his critics, expressed especially in their contempt for us who seek what this site offers, is nowhere better evidenced than in their unwillingness to admit his legitimacy. He is our President. Let’s call him that.

    • James Hendrixs October 19, 2017 at 6:27 am

      He’s the Mango Mussolini, or the Russian Puppet, but he’s NOT my president!!!!!

      • USInfidelPorkEater October 19, 2017 at 5:16 pm

        Please write the name of “your president” for all of us to read if Trump is not your president. Thank you.

        • Hominid October 21, 2017 at 8:03 am

          Obviously, he has none at this point.

          • Ricardo Montalbon October 22, 2017 at 12:34 pm

            Hillary is the president of loserville, that is his president and his nation

    • Hominid October 21, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Obama was not my president; Trump is not my president. There is too much wrong with either for that.

      • Joe Blow October 21, 2017 at 3:08 pm

        He’s the duly elected POTUS. Maybe if the executive branch, and all of the federal government, hadn’t become so powerful, seizing powers the constitution does not authorize, it wouldn’t matter so much who the President is.

      • RubyLaffoon October 22, 2017 at 2:31 pm

        Oh? So you’re not an American. I guess that’s why saying “make America great again” upsets you.

  8. Party of Lincoln October 19, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Only a delusional fool believes that Trump is intent on dismantling the administrative state.

    Look at his policies, not his tweets. Look at the Goldman Sachs executives he’s brought in to his cabinet, not at his rallies. Above all, look at his past. This is not a man who has the American working class in his heart.

    This will not end well. His supporters today in the future will claim they had no idea what they threw their unquestioning devotion to.

    • Hominid October 21, 2017 at 8:11 am

      He wants gov control of health care to continue. He wants DACA enshrined as law. He wants his preferred businesses to be favored. He wants to spend, spend, spend on infrastructure.

  9. Christopher Gage October 19, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Excellent! Mr. Olsen has a rare brain.

  10. Greg Littmann October 21, 2017 at 6:43 am

    Ordinary Americans want a higher standard of living. They want jobs with security and rising wages so that they can be better off than their parents. If they don’t get it, they will eventually kick out whatever party is in office.

    • Hominid October 21, 2017 at 8:12 am

      Gimme, gimme, gimme. Behold democracy — where the folks can vote themselves other people’s earnings.

  11. SouthOhioGipper October 21, 2017 at 7:01 am

    I know what I am for. A return to a time where the federal government was simply not a factor in my personal life outside filing my tax return, paying for the military, the national parks system and the highways.

    That is the extent to which I am willing to accept government assistance and interference in my life. Everything else true Americans should be able to do on their own with the assistance of their families and their local communities.

    • Hominid October 21, 2017 at 8:08 am

      If you stop and think about it, the gov that’s materially into your personal life is state, county, and municipal government. Think motor vehicle regulations, property taxes, sales taxes, real estate taxes, permitting, licensure, gun regulations, smoking regulations, transgender bathrooms, etc.

      • SouthOhioGipper October 21, 2017 at 6:36 pm

        Yes. But if one towns regulations tee me off I can move to a freer one, or out to a township. The State can be a REAL pain at times, but even that can be managed in one way or another. Neither the State nor the locals have the unlimited resources or the desire to use them like the Federal Government.

        • Hominid October 22, 2017 at 3:28 am

          How do you move when you have a job? What state, town doesn’t have it’s laws in your personal life and in your wallet?

    • John Morris October 21, 2017 at 11:01 pm

      Sorry, that is still just what you are against. The Progs could do 90% of their evil without the power of the State backing them at this point, just with their iron grip on the “Commanding Heights of the Culture” and control over the schools. And no, restoring the 1950s, the 1900s, etc. isn’t possible either. So what are you FOR?

      I can agree that re-establishing the Consititution (i.e. the only way to eliminate most of the FedGov) would be great, necessary even. But not sufficient. How do we reestablish cultural norms that a) work, b) are compatible with modern tech and c) could actually be achieved? Which norms of today do we keep, which roll back and which need replacing with something entirely different? Cheap International travel exists. The Internet exists. Hollywierd, or something like it, exists. And so on. So now what?

      Go read Russel Kirk’s Conservative Mind and see for yourself, Conservatism has always had this problem of being for vs against a full program of what sort of civilization they want, which is why it always settles for the compromise of going to the Sunny Uplands a bit slower than the Left would prefer.

      But the old “this isn’t the hill to die on” bit is done, there are no more hills left, our backs are to the ocean. Next step in the sexual revolution is openly buggering children, ain’t much more ground to surrender left there. The diversity wars are about over, look in a schoolhouse and see who is the minority now, they will soon “solve” the problem of whiteness either by ovens or simply rendering us too feeble to resist and on the road to extinction as they teach white children that reproducing more of their wicked kind is wrong. Basic Income is coming, real soon unless something is done NOW. Single payer too. And so on.

      So what do we want? What do YOU want? How do we get there from here? Everyone else jump on in, this is THE question.

  12. JoeS54 October 21, 2017 at 9:31 am

    There was a graph done by a political strategist not long ago. I think it was a Democrat. It was a scatterplot on a two-dimensional axis of economic and social policy. The Republican and Democrat coalitions were clearly visible. Democrats voters were far left on both economic and social policy. Republican voters were conservative on social and economic policy, but more centrist on economic policy than the Democrats. The remaining voters were conservative on social issues, and center or center-left on economic issues. The quadrant that was virtually empty was the one that would hold libertarians. They barely exist.

    In short, what Republican elites have been unwilling or unable to recognize for a long time is that they have not lost elections because of social issues. They have won because of them. They have lost because of the perception that they are “the party of the rich”. It is that line of attack that has been lethal.

    That does NOT mean Republicans must adopt the economic policy of the left. It means that Republican economic policy must focus like a laser on building and preserving the middle class. Simply put, it means managing and controlling trade and immigration rather than throwing the doors wide open. That would not be a new position for the Republican Party. It would be the same one it held from Lincoln through Coolidge.

    • JDL October 21, 2017 at 11:12 am

      The middle class was an aberrant blip of post WWII car manufacturing in America. It is most often ill-defined. Wealth concentration into fewer and fewer hands is natural and unavoidable except by war or revolution. A laser focus on building and preserving the middle class means what?

      • JoeS54 October 21, 2017 at 4:41 pm

        Free market economics, and also supply-side economics (which the left has called “trickle down”, despite the fact that welfare is the ultimate “trickle down”, where the government gets fat and the people get table scraps), works as long as it takes place within a controlled system with equilibrium. “A rising tide lifts all boats” is true. The problem is that when you go beyond the nation’s borders, without carefully controlled and calibrated trade and immigration policy, the boats being lifted are in other countries.

        In the simplest terms, when you have freedom at the top, it works to grow the economy and build the middle class WHEN AND ONLY WHEN the investment and spending of those at the top end, and business, is done inside the country where they operate. That does not mean no trade, but it does mean trade deficits must be held at zero or better. It does not mean no immigration, but it means immigration must be managed such that the labor supply remains balanced, and does not tip into what we have now (in the extreme), which is a buyers’ market for labor, where employees are at such a disadvantage, and must compete with so many others for jobs, that they are at the mercy of employers when it comes to pay, benefits and everything else.

        When wealth stays inside the country, it is spent and invested by those at the top in the form of job creation and raises. It is then spent or saved by domestic employees, which then becomes profit and lending for new business.

        What has been happening since at least the end of the Cold War, in the era of “globalization”, is that the wealth of the US has been siphoned off to build the economies of places like China, while the illusion of prosperity in the US has been maintained through massive deficit spending and debt. The lost wealth, in net effect, has come from what would have gone to the middle class in compensation.

        The housing market crash was the bill coming partly due. But it wasn’t the investors that paid. They got bailed out. It was the household wealth of the middle class that caved in without recovery. So the government has continued to pile up debt and print money to keep the top end flowing, while leaving the domestic middle class for dead and building the middle class of other countries.

        Long answer, but that is the whole picture. It is simple, but the politicians won’t fix it because their donors don’t want them to.

        • Hominid October 22, 2017 at 3:32 am

          You’re economically illiterate.

          • JoeS54 October 22, 2017 at 9:57 am

            You’re a troll.

        • JDL October 22, 2017 at 7:39 am

          Jose,
          Trickle down in a controlled system?
          Trade deficit of zero?
          Controlled immigration to raise wages?
          Globalization siphoning off money from the American middle class?
          Your economic theories seem to be a hybrid of capitalism and Marxism. Permit me to offer a much simpler explanation:
          1. Supply and demand for goods and labor is global
          2. Technology reduces labor demands and lowers wages
          3. Owners of technology amass wealth far in excess of any demand

          • JoeS54 October 22, 2017 at 10:02 am

            That’s the explanation of those who want to maintain the status quo. The fact that you’re calling the economic policy of Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party forward until the last few decades “Marxism” is interesting. Especially considering that current policy includes “free trade” with China, which is, you know, actually Marxist.

          • JDL October 22, 2017 at 10:31 am

            Jose, the Marxist part of your ideas and theories involves the overwhelming governmental control upon which your system rests. In Al’s and Abe’s days even a letter to Europe took a couple of weeks. Now, tech support is mostly from India in real time. Without any consideration of maintaining the status quo, one can hardly argue that communications, telecom, transportation, logistics, banking, manufacturing, and automation haven’t undergone very substantial change with global economic implications. Let’s use cocaine as an example: Columbia has a supply, America has a demand. No law, policy, tariff, government, or person can prevent buyer from connecting with seller in the international marketplace.

          • JoeS54 October 22, 2017 at 1:43 pm

            Overwhelming government control… By melt doing what every government has done in the past, and many are still doing now. Ok. And even if that was the case, that’s not Marxism. You clearly have no clue what Marxism is.

    • Dave781 October 21, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      Correction – protectionism, was the position of the Republican party from Lincoln to Hoover until the Smoot-Hawley tariff destroyed the US economy. Then the Republicans wisely changed course.

      • JoeS54 October 22, 2017 at 12:55 am

        Mythology promoted by importers. Most economists, from Milton Friedman to Paul Krugman, have said the tariff played a very small role.

  13. Vermont Royster October 21, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    u pos cracke talkin out ur panties–trump dies b 4 2020–he will reap what he has sowed–u divide u die and so should u

    • Joe Blow October 21, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      Wow, such racist eloquence

    • JoeS54 October 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      If you divide you die, Obama would have died long ago.

  14. disqus_iy986XBeze October 21, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    You will NEVER be the majority, you a dying every day. This you can take to the bank. Enjoy your 15 mins while you still can.

    • odys October 21, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Hahahaha! You know, young liberals have a habit of becoming old conservatives, but I doubt you’d understand.

      • disqus_iy986XBeze October 21, 2017 at 5:27 pm

        Im a retired Ex-GOP now an Independent who is going to lay several blows to the GOP next year. Enjoy.

    • Travvy October 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      GDP is at 3.2%

      Unemployment is at the lowest it’s been since 1973.

      The Pipelines are being Built.

      Jobs are coming back to this Country.

      The Stock Market is THROUGH THE ROOF.

      Belief in the Economy is THROUGH THE ROOF.

      Our Enemies FEAR US.

      ISIS is DEAD IN THE WATER.

      Illegal Immigration is Way Down.

      So, good luck with your nonsense.

      Idiot.

      • disqus_iy986XBeze October 21, 2017 at 5:26 pm

        Thank you President Obama.. Look out below in 2018…. Enjoy

        • Ricardo Montalbon October 22, 2017 at 12:37 pm

          Obama had eight years. He did not succeed.

  15. swek October 22, 2017 at 1:04 am

    So-called president on a crusade to destroy American democracy

    Make America Nauseous

  16. Ricardo Montalbon October 22, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Here is a good start for you.

    America First.

Comments are closed.