How Democrats Can Win-Over Trump Supporters


I know Sanders and Clinton are talking about economic issues, but when Democrats talk about the economy they’re not talking about the same thing as Republicans.

The nation’s economy has undergone a dramatic transformation in the last twenty or thirty years. We all hear the laments. It doesn’t seem like we make anything in the U.S. anymore. Good middle class jobs for people without a college education are a thing of the past. The future seems uncertain. This concerns everyone, even if they don’t understand how it happened. That’s why you hear many conservatives talk as if the world is coming to an end, because economically at least, particularly for rural whites, it sort of is.

And Democrats don’t really address this. (I know, I know, it’s the banks, and Bernie is talking about the banks ….). Republicans do talk about this. In fact it is the main thing they’re talking about. And they have a simple explanation for why the American economy has been turned upside down: liberals. Liberal economic policies (regulations, minimum wage, workers compensation, unions, now national health care) hamstring business and harm the economy. Liberal social policies sap the nation’s moral standing, and lead to scores of dependent moochers that are draining the nation’s coffers.

The failure of Democrats to address these issues leaves Republicans free to make their ludicrous claims.

I think that if Democrats address these issues head on they’ll be able to regain some support among the white working class, particularly those who now support Donald Trump. Let me explain.

I heard a woman at a Tea Party rally say that all she wants to know is “what went wrong, and who to blame.” For Republicans the answer is easy, and the same, liberals and liberal economic policies.

The real answer is far less satisfying. What went “wrong” is that the world’s economy was transformed by computers, industrial automation, and globalization. That makes “who to blame” far less satisfying as well: Bill Gates (computers and the resulting automation) and Deng Xiaoping (the Premier of China who introduced market reform and allowed the development of the Chinese industrial economy).

Trump supporters are mad at liberals for destroying the American economy. But they are also mad at conservatives for not stopping liberals. Many say it’s about cultural issues (like Bush appointee John Roberts not stopping the Supreme Court decisions on Obamacare and Same Sex marriage) but it’s as much about the economy as anything. They’re mad that Republicans promise things, but never deliver.

And Republicans certainly haven’t been able to deliver on promises to transform the economy. Of course they haven’t been able to deliver because their theory is flat out wrong.

If Democrats do a better job of pointing this out, they may be able need to capture some votes from working class whites.

Conservatives say that high taxes, particularly on the wealthy, drain money from the economy. Republicans promised that cutting taxes would spur “job creators” to open new businesses and create new jobs. Instead we have a stagnant economy for most Americans, while the rich have grown astronomically richer.

Conservatives say that unions hurt companies by reducing their flexibility and increasing their labor costs. Republicans promised that weakening unions would unchain businesses and lead to a revival of the American economy. Instead, real wages have stagnated in the last thirty years, while business profits are at record levels.

Conservatives say regulations harm the economy by raising costs and directing efforts toward compliance and away from innovation. Republicans promised that removing regulation would free business to innovate, thus creating new companies and new jobs. The nation has been deregulating since the early 1980’s. The results are one banking crisis after another, and tepid job growth, while business profits are, again, at record levels.

Conservatives have over-promised again and again on economic issues.

Trump supporters are clearly disillusioned with the GOP. They’re angry at Republican’s inability to accomplish what they promise.

Democrats need to highlight the fact that Republicans failed promises are economic as well as social. This might allow them to pick up a few disillusioned white working class men who are currently considering Trump.

But this will only happen if Democrats talk about the economy.