I tend to think that the Trump movement is best seen as a last dying gasp for a certain kind of worldview, only powerful enough to snag the presidency because it is so keenly aware of its own desperation. The xenophobia, the immigration extremism, the law and order rhetoric… Most of that will quiet down, relatively speaking, after Trump is gone.
But then who the heck are the Republicans after that? After their cowardice and opportunism, not to mention their tone-deaf fealty to corporations even during the worst crisis for ordinary folks in decades, they don’t have anything very convincing to fall back on. It’s going to take awhile for them to find a coalition with strength.
When they do, I could imagine it being a kind of economic populism that brings in more than just white dudes. It’s the Josh Hawley vision, which has a lot more skepticism–economic and cultural–of big corporations and global markets than Reagan Republicans ever had. That says maybe the federal government should pony up 80% of people’s paychecks while employment is in freefall.
This is economic populism, but it’s not Trump 2.0, because Trump never cared for the little guys. He’s never really wanted to protect American manufacturing from Chinese competition, he just wanted a pissing match with the big kid on the block and to force them into a deal, any deal. It’s immigration enforcement not because “those people are criminals,” but because citizens should get first crack at those jobs. It’s welfare in the form of a universal basic income for all.
What I think is interesting about this is that it’s the kind of vision that could bring old school socialists like Bernie Sanders into the fold. One thing you notice when you pay close attention to Bernie is that he’s not culturally as progressive as most of his followers. He’s not interested in social justice exactly, he’s interested in economic fairness and lifting up workers. It’s class identity over racial or gender identity. (Michael Moore lives in this world, too.) That’s old school socialism and I could imagine it conceivably finding a more comfortable fit next to Josh Hawley than to AOC. Crazy??
That’s assuming that AOC, et al, (and I put her at the spear’s tip because she’s where the energy and charisma are) take the Democratic party in the progressive direction with a focus on race and gender equality. The Woke State, to put it crudely. A new civil rights movement to finally uproot the deep inequities in American society. Corporations are cool, if they put their money and influence down on the side of justice. Labor unions? Good in theory, but only if they prioritize the most marginalized of their members (which is why perhaps the GOP becomes the new workers party).
While the new GOP would run its foreign policy primarily as a muscular economic protectionist agenda, the Democrats would be the isolationists. We have too much to get done here at home. That military budget will pay for–rather than universal basic income–Medicare for All and reparations for the historically oppressed. Revitalization of urban areas with the help of the federal government. Direct cash infusions to inner city schools. The green new deal is the Dems’ one outward-facing agenda.
Now, okay, it’s hard for me to think about this question and not inject some of my own preferences. I see something to admire in both these speculative parties. (At the same time, two groups I think they might largely leave out in the cold are social conservatives and localists, and I’m fairly sympathetic to both of those, too.)
But that sort of wishful thinking is one reason I wanted to hear other predictions!