For MAGA, it’s the culture, stupid

It’s not “It’s the economy, idiot.” The issue that got Bill Clinton elected in 1992 was the economy, following the 1990-1992 recession. Unemployment rate rose to nearly 8%. Political strategist James Carville’s wise advice to Democrats was not to talk about anything else.

of Current US unemployment rate? 3.7 percent.unemployment has occurred below 4% for almost two years. Nevertheless, inflation is falling Since June 2022, when it reached a peak of over 9%.

President Biden’s main accomplishment has been lowering inflation without causing what economists call a recession. “Soft Landing”. Diane Swonk, chief economist at global financial advisory firm KPMG, said: told the New York Times“There are some very memorable things.” [of] The boom of the 1990s. ”

That was the “dot-com boom” from 1997 to 2000. At the time, the U.S. economy was in great shape, with tax revenues flowing in rapidly and the federal budget (temporarily) running into a surplus. Politically, the economic boom won President Bill Clinton through the Monica Lewinsky scandal. To voters, the economy meant he had a job.

not now. Voters’ biggest complaint about President Biden is the economy, especially inflation. Voters know that while inflation may be down, necessities like food, gas and rent are still more expensive than they were when Biden took office.

A harsh view of the economy seems to be taking root. more partisan than reality. Partisan hostility has become extreme, with a majority of voters refusing to give President Biden any credit.

Partisan hostility is driving Donald Trump’s campaign. Keeping President Trump Competitive Opinion polls often show him at the same rate as President Biden, or even slightly ahead. The MAGA crowd despises Biden not because he isn’t doing his job, but because he’s a Democrat who defeated their hero in 2020.

Trump is a populist, and populism thrives on resentment. There are 2 types. Left-wing populism is economic. It is driven by resentment towards the wealthy. Right-wing populism is cultural. It is driven by resentment against the educated elite. Both forms of populism are class-based, meaning they are concentrated among lower-income and less-educated voters.

In the early 1930s, the Democratic Party thrived on economic populism. Once upon a time, the fundamental divide in American politics was business versus labor. Republicans identified with business; Democrats identified with workers. This segment was defined primarily by income (low-income Democrats, high-income Republicans).

The realignment began in the 1960s, when the civil rights and antiwar movements took over the Democratic Party.of “Diploma Diploma” It has now become a feature of politics. Most college degree holders are Democrats, and non-college white voters are mostly Republicans (and many support MAGA).

The readjustment was carried out in stages. Richard Nixon used the “Southern Strategy” to attract anti-white voters to the Republican Party in the 1970s. Then Ronald Reagan drew in religious fundamentalists and “Archie Bunker” voters.

Donald Trump is terrorizing educated Americans. MAGA voters are angry that educated elites look down on them. “deplorable,” those who criticize them “They cling to guns and religion.” person who promotes “Awakened” values I respect experts like Dr. Anthony. fauci People trying to regulate their lives (pandemic closures). For sophisticated voters, isolationism and protectionism are wrong ideas. But to MAGA voters, and to Trump, they are common sense.

The MAGA movement is driven by a disdain for authority and expertise. But isn’t Trump often criticized for supporting authoritarianism? Yes, but only if the privilege is yours.

Trump has been careful not to anger economic populists. Unlike most hardline conservatives, He doesn’t talk much about government spending, threatening to cut entitlement programs. such as Social Security and Medicare. As president, he embraced massive economic stimulus to combat the effects of the pandemic. As the ancient Roman emperors discovered, leaders can increase their power through bread and circuses.

Trump’s conservatism, like that of the MAGA crowd, is largely cultural. His key issue in 2024 is the same issue that first made him famous in 2016: immigration.

The surge in illegal immigration poses a serious threat to his supporters. That reaction is nothing new. Throughout American history, large-scale influxes of immigrants have always generated political backlash, including anti-Catholic, anti-Asian, and anti-Semitic sentiments.

It’s not so much an economic challenge. immigrants are desperately needed This is to secure employment and pay taxes. It’s a cultural challenge. Immigrants often bring different political values.

Indeed, immigration has become a major factor in the rise of right-wing political backlash across Western countries (France, Germany, the Netherlands, and even Brexit). Immigration to Europe primarily comes from Africa and the Middle East. Most of the immigrants flocking to the United States are Latin Americans and Asians. Many of them are non-white and non-Christian.

Immigration is important to the U.S. economy. In countries like Japan that strictly restrict entry, Rapidly aging population. In the United States, working-age immigrants could save the economy. But they threaten the culture.

Economics is not what drives the MAGA movement. That’s culture, idiot.

Bill Schneider is a professor emeritus at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and the author of .Standoff: How America became ungovernable”(simon & schuster).

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