The political parties have very clear stands on almost every issue. If you ask a person how they feel about any of a number of issues, you can tell how they probably feel about the rest of the list. We tend to think that’s permanent, but it’s not. Franklin Roosevelt built an amazing coalition that lasted almost a half-century, because he aggressively responded to the Great Depression, bringing us Social Security and many other programs. (Some say Barack Obama wasted his opportunity to build a similar majority, by supporting the banks and speculators—instead of workers–during the Great Recession.)
FDR’s coalition cracked in the 1960s, when in response to civil rights advances, the “Solid South” of segregationists flipped, almost entirely, from Democratic to Republican. It was not an accident. Richard Nixon actively pursued a “Southern Strategy.”
In American politics, the Southern strategy was a Republican Party electoral strategy to increase political support among white voters in the South by appealing to racism against African Americans.
As the civil rights movement and dismantling of Jim Crow laws in the 1950s and 1960s visibly deepened existing racial tensions in much of the Southern United States,
Republican politicians such as presidential candidate Richard Nixon and Senator Barry Goldwater developed strategies that successfully contributed to the political realignment of many white, conservative voters in the South that had traditionally supported the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. It also helped push the Republican Party much more to the right.
Two decades later, much of the working class became “Reagan Democrats,” who first only voted for him, but later drifted to other GOP candidates.
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg. . .concluded that “Reagan Democrats” no longer saw the Democratic party as champions of their working class aspirations, but instead saw them as working primarily for the benefit of others: the very poor, feminists, the unemployed, African Americans, Latinos, and other groups. In addition, Reagan Democrats enjoyed gains during the period of economic prosperity that coincided with the Reagan administration following the “malaise” of the Carter administration. They also supported Reagan’s strong stance on national security and opposed the 1980s Democratic Party on such issues as pornography, crime, and high taxes.
Despite these major changes, more people still identify with the Democratic Party. FDR’s work was that effective, according to a recent poll by Pew Research.
Overall, 48% of all registered voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic compared with 44% who identify as Republican or lean toward the GOP.
Few people have gone the other way. We’ve had only a few liberal Republicans who have switched, most notably Jim Jeffords.
In 2001, he made national headlines when he left the Republican Party to become an independent, and began to caucus with the Senate’s Democrats. His switch changed control of the Senate from Republican to Democratic, the first time a switch had ever changed party control.
Democrats seemed doomed to permanent minority status. But Donald Trump’s move toward a government controlled economy, which threatens free trade and picks winners and losers among industries, has scared the business community—which has been solidly Republican for nearly all of our history.
Business groups, at war with President Donald Trump over trade and immigration, say they’re taking steps to rebuild the political center — including taking fresh looks at moderate Democrats.
The American Bankers Association this month began airing ads in support of candidates for the first time, including Democrats Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Rep. Lou Correa of California. The International Franchise Association has more than doubled its support to Democrats this cycle, with 27 percent of its donations going to centrists in the party. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which leans heavily Republican, endorsed Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey over Republican John McCann, who has the support of former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka.
Even the powerful Koch network appears to be withholding some support for the Republican Party, if not outright supporting Democrats. Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said at a donor retreat Monday that the political network would not help Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) in his Senate race against Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), citing inconsistencies on a range of Koch priorities.
“Republicans aren’t the only people who have great ideas for business,” International Franchise Association President Robert Cresanti said. “We really need more members of Congress that are in the middle and are willing to listen to both sides.”
“It’s a significant shift in our thinking,” Cresanti said. “Before, it was you’re either with us 100 percent of the time or you’re against us.”
As noted above, even the Charles Koch, the man Democrats have loved to hate, has changed his tune.
Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch extended an olive branch to Democrats during a weekend donor confab, saying Sunday that he wants to work with lawmakers regardless of party — so long as they work on issues he cares about — and admitting he has regrets about politicians his powerful network supported in the past. . .
Koch did not support Trump during the 2016 election and is known to be skeptical of the president.
David Koch also doubts Trump.
Charles and David Koch, the billionaire libertarian-ish brothers and longtime Republican Party patrons, never did like Donald Trump. During the 2016 election, they refused to contribute to Trump’s candidacy, noting that they would instead spend their $300 million to prop up Republican candidates in local races. They remained aloof throughout 2017, with Charles suggesting that Trump’s Muslim ban was reminiscent of Nazi-era racism, and both brothers implying that they would wait it out before backing Trump, who had begun to rail about tariffs.
“We’re principled, and if we can’t get comfortable with the policies that are in place, then we’re not going to support them,” said Mark Holden, Koch Industries’s top lawyer. Though they made several attempts to influence the White House’s policy through their connections with top figures like Mike Pence, the president’s recent gesture toward a trade war with China represented a proverbial final straw. “From the beginning we’ve said that tariffs and protectionism is a bad idea,” Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs’ political organization, told CNBC. “[The White House has] explained their reasoning behind it and we just strongly disagree.”
Trump, who is incapable of accepting criticism, replied by calling the GOP’s largest donors, “a total joke,” according to Business Insider.
Steve Bannon, who has goveled for Trump ever since he was banished from the White House, also attacked the Kochs.
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon tore into the powerful Koch political network Sunday, accusing it of undermining President Donald Trump ahead of a midterm election that threatens to derail his presidency.
“What they have to do is shut up and get with the program, OK?” Bannon said in an interview with POLITICO. “And here’s the program: Ground game to support Trump’s presidency and program, [and] victory on Nov. 6.”. . .
He described the Koch political operation as ineffective, saying it had wasted untold dollars on losing past elections. And he argued that voters had rejected the free-trade approach the Kochs embrace in favor of Trump’s brand of economic populism.
“We can have a theoretical discussion later, OK? This is why they don’t know what it means to win, OK? We don’t have time to have some theoretical discussion and to have their spokesman come out and say the president is divisive,” Bannon said.
If the business community flips to the Democrats, we could have a whole new realignment of the two party system.