The GOP’s Silver Linings Playbook

With the enthronement of President-anointed Joe Biden, Republicans, conservatives, and Trumpers have much to be chagrined about. There are, however, signs that all is not lost for America. Some of those signs are obvious and unambiguous. Others take a little more imagination to see.

For one thing, based on exit polls, President Trump got a higher percentage of the nonwhite vote in 2020 than any Republican since Richard Nixon in 1960. Considering the acidity and frequency of the Left’s attacks on Trump and Republicans as “racist,” this is a remarkable achievement.

The saying used to be, “As California goes, so goes the nation.” Today, however, it’s Florida that encapsulates the future of this country. And Florida, an economic dynamo and a magnet for domestic migrants and immigrants, voted solidly for Trump and padded the Republican edge in the state legislature while sending two new GOP congressmen to Washington, D.C. As time goes by, and as more Hispanics and Asians assimilate and join the middle class while the Left’s hackneyed bellyaching about racism grows stale, we can expect Republicans to further expand their share of the nonwhite vote.

In addition, despite predictions of a “blue wave” in 2020, the Democrats barely “won” the key states, and did so often by margins of less than 1 percent. Republicans also gained a net of 141 seats in state legislatures across the country, a net of two state legislative chambers, one governorship, and 15 seats in the House of Representatives. None of this suggests that the GOP is at death’s door. Quite the contrary.

These signs of Republican strength and staying power have been noted by many observers, but consider these factors as well:

  • Democrats will no longer be able to unify themselves around a message of anti-Trumpism. They will now have to govern, which means making hard choices, which in turn means (inevitably) disappointing and frustrating some elements of their base.
  • The press, which has been simping for the Democrats since 2016 as it dedicated itself to toppling President Trump, will now resume, in some fashion, its role as the “Fourth Estate.” It will by necessity begin to criticize some Democrats and Democratic policies.
  • Biden and his team have advocated an ambitious, expensive agenda, but they face the problem that federal finances are already hopelessly overextended. If they spend frivolously, they risk igniting a fiscal crisis and ushering in a severe recession or a depression.
  • Try as they might to ignore the problem, Democrats will have to contend with the fact that their new titular leader was not so much elected by the people as summoned from the crypt. A more incongruous face for modern leftism would be hard to imagine.
  • Even if little changes in terms of our political and partisan dynamics, history suggests it is highly unlikely that the “party in power” will gain seats in the House and Senate in 2022. Thus, Republicans can be hopeful that they will retake Congress in the foreseeable future.

But that’s not all! I would like to suggest two additional considerations that should give Republicans, conservatives, and Trumpers grounds for optimism.

On the face of it, the mass expulsion of many right-wing figures, including President Trump, from a wide range of social media platforms makes it difficult or impossible for them to compete with Democrats. In the short run, the great purge on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. does indeed hamper conservatives’ ability to share their message(s) with the voters. The truth, however, is that Big Tech has been surreptitiously undermining conservative opinion leaders for years, by making it harder for them to build followings, to share their posts with a wide audience, and more recently by labeling and “fact-checking” information that conflicts with the Democratic Party line.

Now that Big Tech’s blatant bias and intolerance have been exposed, conservatives stand to gain. This is partly because the public will see Silicon Valley censorship for what it is—a naked power grab and an affront to democracy and free speech. It is also because Big Tech’s influence depends on its monopoly position in various fields of information-sharing. Based on recent events, new social media platforms will arise, just as alternative news media sources have blossomed at the same time that the mainstream media has taken a hard left turn. 

In essence, Big Tech has thrown down the gauntlet. It has declared its ideological and partisan preferences, and it has dared any American who thinks differently to take their business elsewhere. I already have. I won’t be alone. As this transformation of the digital marketplace of ideas takes hold, Big Tech’s power over public opinion won’t increase—it will decrease. That’s all to the good.

The last salutary development for Republicans and conservatives is also, on the face of it, a temporary setback. Many large corporations, in the wake of the “insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, are suspending or canceling their donations to GOP politicians. Yes, money talks in American politics, and thus losing a formerly reliable source of contributions is a problem. But the truth is that direct corporate funding of political campaigns is much less important than individual contributions.

More importantly, the incipient “divorce” between the GOP and a long list of mega-corporations, coupled with the efforts by many captains of industry to ingratiate themselves with “woke” activists and Democrats, means that the Republicans have a tantalizing opportunity to finish the work that Trump began. They can (re-)define themselves not only as the defenders of free speech but also as the only party that is both populist and nationalist.

While the Democrats increasingly parrot the agenda of educated, privileged, globalist elites, the GOP can assume the mantle of “America First” and advocate for American workers, strong borders, law and order, staying out of foreign wars, and evading the perils of European-style socialism. As plenty of politicians have proven over the years, running against Wall Street and the rich, and articulating the hopes and fears of the “little guy,” can be the ticket to electoral success.

For all these reasons, then, Republicans, conservatives, and Trumpers should take heart. Whatever the future may hold for Donald Trump in American politics, he has laid the groundwork for a Republican Party and a conservative movement that are strong, dynamic, and growing. 

Assuming that future elections are fair, or even reasonably fair, we have every reason to expect that the GOP will be back on top, and soon.

About Nicholas L. Waddy

Nicholas L. Waddy, an associate professor of history at SUNY Alfred, blogs at www.waddyisright.com.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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