In April 2014, former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania published a book called Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works.
The book appealed to the Republican Party to focus more on the concerns of working people in America’s heartland. Its message was one that Senator Santorum used during his runner-up campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
The book eventually found its way into the hands of billionaire businessman Donald Trump. After reading it, he set up a meeting with Senator Santorum at Trump Tower.
Senator Santorum wrote in The Philadelphia Inquirer that the two men “discussed the problems facing Middle America,” primarily globalization, trade, healthcare, and education. They discussed why Republican politicians largely ignore the concerns of working people in favor of a corporatist agenda. They discussed why it was important that someone give the forgotten men and women of America’s heartland a voice.
At the end of the meeting, Trump said “he might run for president and, if he did, he wanted to take that message to the American voter.”
His blue-collar, populist presidential campaign resulted in him winning 304 electoral votes, the most for any Republican since 1988. He won states that Republicans of late have only dreamed of winning, like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. President-elect Trump broke down the Democrats’ “Blue Wall” in the Rust Belt. He also won the swing states of Florida, Iowa, and North Carolina.
The Future of the Republican Party
Going forward, it would be foolish for Republican candidates not to copy President-elect Trump’s model. The surest path to winning elections at the federal, state, and local levels is to focus on the issues that blue-collar conservatives care about.
Blue-collar conservatives are often called “Reagan Democrats.” They’ve struggled in recent elections to find candidates who share their values and concerns. They value family, faith, and freedom. They believe that that government is best which governs least.
Thus, they want education to be controlled at the local level by parents and school boards rather than by Washington bureaucrats. They want politicians to actually put American interests first when it comes to trade, immigration, and national security.
Blue-collar conservatives are in a sort of culture war with the elites on the East and West Coasts.
Blue-collar conservatives say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” They watch Duck Dynasty and Deadliest Catch rather than Jersey Shore and Keeping Up With the Kardashians. They listen to Alan Jackson and Toby Keith instead of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber.
These simple folks propelled President-elect Trump to victory. They liked the fact that he was willing to take on the corporate elitists in the Republican establishment. Further, they actually liked the fact that Trump had no politician’s filter.
Candidate Trump gave the heartland a voice. President-Trump wants them to shout with that voice.
The Democrat Party represents the party of socialists, racists, and elitists who look down upon everyone else. Democrats say that they care about working people, but their policies don’t.
Obamacare, increased taxes and regulations, minimum wage hike, and others hurt the very people Democrats claim to protect.
Blue-collar conservatives are the backbone of America. Democrats tend to forget that, as they pander to every special interest except the blue-collar conservative.
Republicans won because we didn’t pander. We respect the blue-collar vote. Always have and always will.