From Henry Olsen at National Review, Can the Republican Party Keep Trump Democrats?
They are best viewed through the lens of active citizenship. They take national identity seriously and imbue Americanism with an implicit bargain that flies in the face of liberal or libertarian cosmopolitanism. They believe that being American means more than voting and paying taxes. To them it means that if you work hard and play by the rules, the people who run the country owe it to you that you will live with dignity and respect.
It became painfully obvious to these voters over the last eight years that national Democrats no longer treat them with respect or believe they are capable of living dignified lives. They have seen their way of life under assault, whether in the form of attacks on gun ownership, the focus on climate change over growth, or implicit claims that they are bigots. For people who voted twice for President Obama, these last insinuations might have been the most offensive and damaging of all.
Just because progressive Democrats seemed determined to drive these voters away did not mean, however, that they found conventional Republicans any better. These voters have shunned Republicans because they disagree with the party’s focus on low taxes, small government, and pro-business policies. They benefit enormously from middle-class entitlement programs; their children get what they consider to be good educations from public schools and state universities. They have no problem with redistribution so long as it is focused on either people who can’t work or people who do.
This attitude comes out clearly when we look at entitlement reform. Polls show that these voters do not want to cut Social Security or Medicare at all. Pew Research surveys also show that voters like these believe the government should spend more to help the poor even if it adds to the debt. These are not mainstream views among most Republicans, to say the least.
Trump Democrats were the great surprise of the election. Keeping them will require a significant adjustment of the Republican message. The Republicans can screw this up by ignoring this segment, and returning to social conservatism and rejecting established institutions from the progressive era.
This was not an embrace of Republican or conservative ideology, but a rejection of the Democrat’s identity politics. Every time a Democrat now cries racism towards Trump’s victory or his cabinet appointees or considerations, they drive this group further into the arms of the opposition.