Back in the 80’s, Reagan was hailed as a brilliant politician for winning over working and middle-class ethnics, the so-called Reagan Democrats. The Archie Bunkers who voted Democrat out of instinct suddenly switched parties and voted Republican. Only old timers talk about the Catholic vote or white ethnics anymore, but within living memory, they existed and mattered.
That was a big development primarily because it signaled a radical change in the party coalitions. The old Democrat coalition of working class northern whites, southern whites, blacks and the old Yankee ruling elite was no more. The South was going Republican and the white working class appeared to be following suit. It’s why so many swing state Democrat pols changed sides. They followed their voters to the new party.
Something happened in the 1990’s that arrested what should have been a long running ruling majority coalition. The old Yankee elites started jumping to the GOP side, joining the Rockefeller Republicans to take control of the party. The party of Reagan became the party of Bush.They made all the noises the Reagan coalition expected, but they were Bush men through and through. Just look at the House leadership and you don’t see a bunch of Evangelical Southerners.
Where we have been for the last two decades is a country with a ruling class largely based in the traditionally dominant region of the nation, the Northeast. The areas settled by old Yankees, along with the Midland areas dominate both parties and they take turns cobbling together ruling majorities from the other bits of the country. The Yankee-Midland coalition came out in force for Obama, while the Midland-Southern coalition came out strong in the midterms. The reverse occurred in the Bush years.
What seems to be happening is the Yankee-Midland coalition is blowing apart. I thought about this while in Massachusetts recently. In a Waltham restaurant, the TV’s started showing Trump’s visit to Norwood Mass. The whole place turned its attention to the show. I heard more than a few people cheering Trump. Friends I was with were all very interested in the Trump phenomenon.
That does not make much sense as we are given to believe that it is those xenophobic racists in the Deep South propelling his campaign. Just the other day, National Review ran a piece about how Trump is George Wallace. To Southerners, George Wallace no longer resonates. Most people in the South don’t remember the guy, probably confusing him with the black comic.
To political types from the Northeast, George Wallace is right up their with Bull Connor and the Confederate Flag. He’s a symbol of bad whites throughout time and place. In other words, this comparison is not for the benefit or detriment of bad whites. It is a one group of good whites signalling to other good whites that they are playing with fire. The hysterical response by Conservative Inc to Trump is not because he is a fringe xenophobe. It’s because he speaks for a wing of the coalition that appears to be going heretic.
Before Trump came along, there were rumblings from the other side of the Conservative ruling junta that things were not well. Reform Conservatives are warmed over Rockefeller Republicans from the pre-Reagan era. They have been agitating for a new direction where they shed the yahoos, with their boom-sticks, sky gods and limited government nonsense. They see Trump as a chance to wrench control of the movement and the GOP.
The thing that never gets discussed is this. Trump is a New Yorker. He has lived his life in a city that is majority non-white. Lumping him in with the racist crackers from the south is laughable. When he speaks, lots of regular people in the northeast hear one of their own. In contrast to the acrylic robots they see running both parties, Trump is a regular guy, just with a few billion dollars and a super model wife. He’s a guy a large number of people look up to as a good example.
To extend this out further, the inspiration for Trump on immigration is none other than Ann Coulter, a WASP princess from Connecticut. She was enthusiastic about Romney, simply because he was making the right noises on immigration. The great undiscussed truth of modern times is it is Yankee New England that is the most hostile to immigration. They are fine with the Hindu chemist or the Syrian engineer, but they have zero interest in the little brown guys you see loitering at the local Home Depot.
It’s hard to know how this plays out. The action has been on the GOP side, but the Democrats are having a nervous breakdown of their own. The old Yankee strongholds are experiencing another exodus, similar to what happened in the late 70’s and 80’s. Taxes are an easy culprit, but it could be culture. The middle class in these areas have simply grown disgusted with their ruling elites, the same ones they are revolting against today by supporting Sanders and Trump.
Maybe it something else, but it appears Yankeedom is heading for a crackup and taking the political class with them.