By Joshua Gonzalez
2020 is truly a year of political firsts. Future potential lockdowns loom over the heads of an American public exhausted of being forced to stay at home while their savings and mental health disintegrate. A presidential election continues to be contested while both candidates declared victory and are prepared to take charge of our sprawling federal government. A recent march of fervent Trump supporters was met with fierce resistance from militants of Black Lives Matter and Antifa. The country remains divided on ideological front lines. While President Trump and his reelection staff continue to challenge presidential election results in several key states, former Vice President and presumed President-elect Biden is embarking on an intricately elaborate semi-moderate, semi-progressive policy agenda. Much to the chagrin of Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, Biden’s best bet to maintain his slim majorities in several of the races that were called for him will rely on his ability to retain support from moderates and political independents alike. If the Republican Party is to survive as the only alternative to a growingly statist and culturally authoritarian Democratic Party, it must learn its lessons from the results of this election and act upon them.
The first thing Republicans should recognize is, with the exception of the presidential race, how unscathed the GOP came out of Senate, House, and statewide elections. The New York Times currently has Democrats with a pitiful single-digit majority in the House of Representatives. According to the Associated Press, “they’ll have the smallest majority since Republicans had just 221 seats two decades ago.” Furthermore, there is a high likelihood that Republicans will be able to maintain their slim majority in the Senate only if the RNC takes the omen of a Democratic win in Georgia seriously. Gubernatorial races didn’t seem to favor the Democrats, either. They only managed to retain control of two reliably liberal states and narrowly keeping their incumbent in North Carolina. State house elections also presented sour results for the Democrats, where their dreams of taking majorities in Texas, North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Michigan were successfully crushed by conservatives. Republicans even managed to flip New Hampshire’s legislature in their favor as well. This bodes well for future elections, when Republicans will be in charge of redistricting efforts when the 2020 Census is finished being counted.
It seems almost as if millions of Americans went into the voting booth to vote for Biden while subsequently voting for Republicans down the line. This could be an indication of an American people tired of the character of Trump but hesitant to support many of the radical pieces of legislation that progressive ideologues in the Democratic Party are proposing. A recent conference call amongst all Democratic sitting members of Congress describes the poorly hidden secret of a divided party. Democratic representatives from moderate districts in states like Texas, Pennsylvania, and Virginia claimed that calls to defund police departments and bans on fracking nearly cost them reelection. Progressive members intensely fought back against these charges and explained that it was actually left-wing unity driven by the far left that pushed Biden over the finish line. In any case, now is the moment for Republicans to take advantage of Democratic confusion over identity to intensely analyze the unlikely groups of Americans who came out for President Trump.
According to the exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool as reported by the New York Times, President Trump lost some support from the coalition that won him the election in 2016. For example, white Americans, Americans without college degrees, and working-class Americans did not turn out for him to the extent that they did during the last presidential election. Most interestingly is his support from racial minorities, where he managed to exceed expectations. After all, it was Hispanics both in south Texas and Florida who granted him comfortable wins in both of those states. Racial minorities and working-class Americans must be the two groups of people Republicans should focus electoral strategy on. We learned that many Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians refuse to be treated as a monolithic vote that will faithfully serve the whims of the Democrats, no matter how radical their policy proposals become. These results show the only sustainable future for the GOP: a working class, multi-ethnic party.
Indicators from the House are telling us that there is good reason to believe Republican leadership has incorporated some of these suggestions already. We are about to welcome the most Republican women into Congress the party has ever seen. Victories in the Senate include Susan Collins and Joni Ernst of Maine and Iowa, respectively, successfully fighting off challengers to their seats. Cynthia Lummis won Senator Mike Enzi’s seat in Wyoming (making her the first woman to represent Wyoming in the Senate!) and Kelly Loeffler may win in Georgia as well.
The House saw even more victories. Cuban American journalist María Elvira Salazar (FL-27), Iranian American politician Stephanie Bice (OK-5), Cherokee American businesswoman Yvette Herrell (NM-2), and Korean American politician Young Kim (CA-39) blew expectations out of the water when all of them managed to flip districts thought to be reliably controlled by the Democrats. Under the leadership of Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Republican women and minorities will pave the way for an American future based on freedom, law, and love of country.
Though it is increasingly likely that Republicans will lose the presidency, leadership should still stand proud of their efforts to rally the country against an uncomfortably progressive left that is willing to sacrifice individual liberties to bolster the poorly defined “collective good.” As long as the GOP continues to hear the voices of those Americans traditionally not considered to be conservative, the Grand Old Party will be able to shift its identity towards a grand, new coalition.
Joshua Gonzalez is B.A. in Economics and Public Policy and president in the Austrian Economics Association