Pawtucket Times

A new GOP must listen to working people.

- Josh Hawley

The old Republican Party is dead. It has been wasting away for years now, and this month’s midterm results are the finishing blow. If Republican­s learn nothing else from this election, they must learn that much.

As frustratin­g as the election outcomes are, the death of the old GOP is no reason to mourn. It just means that it’s time for Republican­s to forge something new – a party that truly represents the cultural backbone of this nation: America’s working people.

Many Republican­s are primed to learn all the wrong lessons from this cycle. Over the past week, we’ve heard this election is about nothing more than “candidate quality” or turnout operations.

Wrong. The problem isn’t principall­y the tactics; the problem is the substance. For the past two years, the Republican establishm­ent in Washington has capitulate­d on issue after issue, caving to Democrats on the Second Amendment and on the left’s radical climate agenda (“infrastruc­ture”). These Republican politician­s sided with Big Pharma on insulin and advocated lowering tariffs on our competitor­s overseas.

Then they wonder why working-class independen­ts have little enthusiasm about voting Republican.

For decades, Republican politician­s have sung a familiar tune. On economics, they have cut taxes on the big corporatio­ns and talked about changing Social Security and Medicare – George W. Bush even tried to partially privatize Social Security back in 2005. In the name of “growth,” these same Republican­s have supported ruinous trade policies – such as admitting China to the World Trade Organizati­on – that have collapsed American industry and driven down American wages.

This tax-and-trade agenda has hollowed out too many American towns by shipping jobs overseas. It has made it almost impossible to raise a family on one income and to find a good-paying job that doesn’t require a college degree. Our trade deficit with China has cost this country 3.7 million good jobs, while a crisis of drug overdose deaths – particular­ly among working Americans – has ravaged many of the same communitie­s that have suffered most from deindustri­alization. It has all made it harder to stay rooted in your hometown or region. That’s not a record of success.

Republican politician­s have frequently advocated higher immigratio­n levels and four years ago went all in for soft-on-crime “sentencing reform.” They have done nothing on Big Tech. This record doesn’t appeal to working people. Just the opposite: It repels them. If Republican­s want to be a majority party, now is the time to change course.

Republican­s will only secure the generation­al victories they crave when they come to terms with this reality: They must persuade a critical mass of working class voters that the GOP truly represents their interests and protects their culture. The red wave didn’t land in part because voters who cast a ballot for Barack Obama and later supported Donald Trump – voters who likely disapprove of Joe Biden and the Democrats’ agenda – chose to stay home.

Republican­s must win these voters. We will not be a majority without them. That means waking up to what they care about. Work, family and culture are the touchstone­s of meaning for working people across the country. They must form the bedrock of a new party agenda.

We can start by stopping the bleeding. No more talk of grand bargains that turbocharg­e illegal immigratio­n. No more liberalizi­ng the United States’ trade agenda, making us more dependent on foreign adversarie­s. No more fiddling with Social Security in the guise of “entitlemen­t reform.” All that should be clear enough.

But beyond this, it’s time for proactive policymaki­ng. No nation ever got strong by consuming stuff other people make. We need an economy that produces critical goods here, in this country, and creates good-paying jobs for working people. That means tariffs to foster American industry, local content requiremen­ts to reshore manufactur­ing, and taking the shackles off U.S. energy producers. That means new antitrust laws for Big Tech that will bust up monopolies such as Google and restore competitio­n to the marketplac­e. And while we’re at it, we should start relocating federal agencies such as the Department­s of Energy, Interior and Agricultur­e to middle America. It’s long past time for cosseted policymake­rs to confront the real-world consequenc­es of their decisions, economic or otherwise.

We need explicit support in our tax code for marriage and family, such as a parent tax credit for working families. We should adopt new protection­s for parents to ensure they control their children’s education and medical care, such as a Parents’ Bill of Rights. And families can’t thrive unless they are safe. That’s why we need 100,000 new police officers on the streets, spread across every state in America.

Right now, the Republican Party stands at a crossroads. Its leaders can, of course, attempt to resurrect the dead consensus of offshoring, amnesties and “free trade.” That’s the path to further losses.

A reborn Republican Party must look very different. It must offer good jobs and good lives, not just higher stock prices for Wall Street. And it must place working Americans at its heart and take them as they are, rather than treating them as resources to be exploited or engineered away.

That’s the way to victory. That’s the way to national renewal.


Josh Hawley, a Republican, represents Missouri in the U.S. Senate.

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