by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Now John Daniel Davidson of the Federalist focuses on the real Fishtown, in Philadelphia, in making a plea for conservatives to pay attention to issues that have helped Donald Trump on the campaign trail.
I thought about Bob’s and Fishtown as I was listening to Donald Trump’s big speech Monday afternoon in Detroit. Citing a litany of gloomy economic statistics, Trump made his usual pitch for trade protectionism, tax cuts, and regulatory reform.
“No one will gain more from these proposals than low- and middle-income Americans,” he said, drawing on a major theme of his campaign. Trump’s message about the economy more or less boils down to this: the working class has been ignored and forgotten, while the political elites have rigged the system to benefit themselves. And, as he said Monday, “We can’t fix a rigged system by relying on the people who rigged it in the first place.” So vote for Trump and make American great again.
To the surprise of pundits and the political class, this argument has found an approving audience among a plurality of GOP primary voters, and especially among working-class whites. Poor whites have been alternately maligned and ignored by both parties for years, in contrast to poor minority communities that not only get more attention from the media but have been actively courted by Democrats for decades (and, at least before Trump, some Republicans). …
… If conservatives want a political future, if they want to take back the GOP and lead the country, they will need to figure out a way to speak to these people. They will need to persuade them that their best chance for a better life doesn’t rest with the empty promises of a demagogue like Trump—or with Hillary Clinton and the tired old liberal policies that Democrats have imposed on our cities for generations.
They will have to go to the Fishtowns of America, to the forgotten and shuttered places, and by word and deed show the people there, however backward they might be, that they can rebuild their lives and their communities, and that they aren’t alone anymore.