The 2018 midterms revealed one glaring potential problem for the Republican Party- the increasingly declining suburban vote, once a bulwark against the liberal vote in urban areas. Demographically, this would seem a problem since about 52% of the US population lives in suburban areas, 27% in urban areas, and 21% in rural areas according to the Census Bureau in 2017 and things have not changed greatly in three years.
It would appear, unless Mayor Pete, Mayor Mike, or someone else emerges, Bernie Sanders is probably the leader when it comes to the Democrat nomination to take on Trump in 2020. The vote in Iowa was close and he won New Hampshire so far with Nevada and South Carolina on the horizon before we get to Super Tuesday in early March. In effect, the Democrats are on the precipice of nominating an avowed, unapologetic socialist. It scares the hell out of some Democrats and it should scare the hell out of the remainder of America, especially those living in the suburbs. If the Democrats nominate Sanders, if played correctly, the GOP can drive an enduring wedge between that party and suburban voters.
However, the support for socialims is not as great as one would think. Leaving aside the Leftist Twitter mob and MSNBC, the American electorate is not exactly enamored with socialism as they would want you to believe. In New Hampshire and Iowa (to the degree we can trust the Iowa results), Sanders and Warren collectively account for about a third of all votes cast. Sanders is hampered that the fact that the bulk of his support comes from voters under the age of 45, many of whom live in urban areas. Contrast this with the 2016 GOP primary season. That year, close to 70% of those who casted votes did so for either Ted Cruz or Donald Trump, two candidates considered to the right of the party at large. For the Democrats, the reverse is happening: close to two-thirds are voting for a candidate not as far to the Left as Sanders or Warren. This is further proof that the American electorate is not Leftist; in fact, it is rather conservative.
It would be a horrendous case for the GOP to lose suburban voters to a party led by a socialist like Bernie Sanders and partly supported by the largesse of people like George Soros and Tom Steyer. In reality, suburban voters are tired and leery of both parties. The question then becomes, given the reality there are two choices, do they vote for the socialist? Do they allow their communities to become dumping grounds for illegal immigrants? In Virginia, against the backdrop of the 2019 election results, we can see in microcosm what Democrats have in store. Did all those suburban voters who turned Virginia blue really bargain for a trampling of their Second Amendment rights? Did they really want violent criminals released from their prisons? Did they really want the wonders of being transgender taught in their nice suburban schools? Perhaps the suburban voters were wary of Trump’s personality, but did they really bargain for this?
Where there is some darkness, there is also light at the end of the tunnel…IF the GOP wants to exploit the opportunity. If they speak to those voters, it creates a unique opportunity in 2020 to drive a wedge between the suburban voters and the Democrats. It can become enduring if after winning, they actually do something.
President Trump can only do so much from his bully pulpit. His State of the Union address laid out a broad outline. Yet, it should be remembered that from 2017 to January 2019, Trump had a Republican-controlled Congress that can only count his tax cuts as their only legislative achievement. Most other Trump accomplishments were through Executive Order, or the nomination/confirmation process for judicial positions. Even then, most of his attempts have been blocked in the courts.
The GOP must first scare the living daylights out of suburban voters when it comes to the Democrats, especially if it is Bloomberg or Sanders, although they all have socialist visions dancing in their heads. It starts with a “We the People” argument, not a “government does all” argument. A return of power to the people, not the Courts, would be a great first step.
We can have a strong federal government provided they stick to their Constitutional duties. Chief among them are ensuring our sovereignty as a nation and our security as a people. That includes making sure these suburban enclaves do not become dumping grounds for illegal immigrants among whom are nefarious characters. The very fact they harbor those who have committed a crime is proof that there are bad actors among the border jumpers. The recent actions by the DOJ to go after sanctuary cities is a welcome first step.
What do suburban voters want? If you talk to them, from various polls, they want what most everyone wants- safe streets devoid of crime is one thing. Does it make sense, then, for a city to harbor criminals? Another concern is health care. If the GOP could ever create a coherent message in this area, the Democrats would be DOA. But, they haven’t and it has to start with eliminating the health insurance cartel as an obstacle between patients and their doctor. As for economic mobility, another concern, the socialist hates capitalism while the conservative hates crony capitalism. Subsidies that support industries not in need of support, or boondoggles that would not exist in a rational world without subsidies, need to be rooted out, phased out, and eliminated. Finally, suburban voters worry about education. Here, the GOP has the advantage if they highlight, advance, and support alternatives to the public education complex largely run by bureaucrats and the teacher’s unions.
In terms of foreign policy, admittedly not high on the list of voters anywhere, instead of worrying about exporting democracy to countries with no inkling of the concept of democracy, perhaps the GOP should stress the more immediate foreign policy question at our border. We finally have a President who is willing to do so. If the remainder of the Right pushed these principles with half the effort Democrats push socialism, we would not be talking about the loss of a suburban vote.
It takes more than just Trump. Every Senator and Congressman, state legislator, Governor and mayor has to take the message to the streets. If they do not, a second Trump term will be for naught and bogged down and neutralized by internal fighting and obstruction. The GOP will find itself in the same predicament Democrats find themselves in today: a special-interest supported establishment against the “revolutionary.” The only difference is that the Trump revolution is better than the socialist revolution in the Democrat Party. Imagine the accomplishments Trump would have under his belt if fellow Republicans assisted instead of becoming commentators at The Bulwark.
Joe Biden was right about saving the country, but not for the reasons he thought. The country needs to be saved from its dalliance with venture socialism and crony capitalism. The Iowa entrance polls and New Hampshire exit polls said that for most Democrat voters, the number one priority was defeating Trump in 2020 and “electability” was an overriding concern when casting a vote. With Biden imploding and Buttigieg casting himself as the “moderate,” that is the source of the latter’s success in these states. If Democrats themselves do not want a socialist, why would suburban voters? Why would they even even support socialism-lite and woke political correctness in the form of Buttigieg or Bloomberg?
The country, including suburban voters, needs to be saved from the Democrat Party who will think not one iota about running over Constitutional rights to remake this country in the image of Cuba and Venezuela. They will trot out the “Scandinavian model” and look to places like Denmark, but if Virginia is any indication, their lust for power will be undeterred. Suburbia needs to get out of bed, smell the coffee and do the right thing. Their ignorance is no excuse to destroy the Republic.