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The Future of American Politics

February 18, 2021

On January 22, 2021, Michael Barone gave a “master class” on American politics and addressed many questions that I will examine in my next book. Here’s a transcript of his remarks

Some major observations he makes are the following:

Transcript of the January 22nd, 2021 Hudson Institute event titledThe Republican Party after 2020: A Conversation with Michael Barone

…my bet still is that [former President Donald Trump] will fade with Republican voters. He will perhaps make a lot of noise, use some non-Twitter social media to show his stance on issues, denounce various other Republicans, and perhaps praise a few. But, I think he won’t be the defining factor for the party in the quadrennium ahead of us.

…to oversimplify it, the Republican Party has lost support among upscale Americans, college graduates, relatively affluent people, and has gained support among downscale Americans. Regionally, the Republican Party has gained strength in the South and lost strength in the North.

What changed in Georgia and in Arizona and, to a lesser extent, also in Texas, was that … you have a movement by affluent voters away from the Republicans and toward Democrats.

The very policies and stances and styles that gain you votes among upscale voters, for example, will lose you votes among downscale voters, because where they have differences of opinion, differences of basic cultural attitudes.

…the Never Trumpers, The Lincoln Project crowd, Bill Kristol, a former editor of the former Weekly Standard and so forth, are basically functionally Democrats at this point.

[Donald Trump’s} role in Georgia, in characterizing the electoral system there as fraudulent and rigged, clearly resulted in the loss of two Senate seats and the loss of a Senate majority by the Republican Party. It’s going to result almost surely in substantial policy wins for Democrats and policy defeats for most Republicans.

…when people live in socially connected communities, they don’t vote for Donald Trump.

[Trump did] very poorly in Dutch American areas. Those are areas that have got Protestant Reformed Churches, which have close cohesion. Their members are involved in charitable activities and, in some cases, major philanthropy.

Public opinion polling shows the vast majority of the American public now sees China as an enemy, China as somebody who has hurt our economy. I think the engagement with China was a bipartisan project, and it left open the way towards Donald Trump becoming president and moving our policy at least somewhat in a different direction, which, at the same time, was the direction that has been supported by public opinion, including a lot of people that didn’t like Donald Trump.

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