GOP Earthquake

What’s behind the GOP’s anti-establishment revolt.

What’s Behind The GOP’s Anti-Establishment Revolt

This presidential election is shaping up to be one of the most surprising ones in history as billionaire Donald Trump continues to dominate in the polls, despite his penchant for racism, extremism, and misogyny. This Republican revolt continues to shock pundits, experts, and everyday voters, with many unsure of the origin of this anti-establishment wave in the Republican primary. The Center for American Progress Action Fund hosted a conversation between The Atlantic‘s Senior Editor David Frum, CAPAF Senior Fellow Ruy Teixeira, and The Nation‘s National Affairs Correspondent Joan Walsh to discuss the great Republican earthquake. Watch the conversation here.

One explanation for the populist surge inside the Republican Party reflects racially tinged resentments about immigration and rapid demographic change. Donald Trump represented that sentiment again today when he lashed out at Pope Francis, who said it was “not Christian” to think “only about building walls,” which is a central tenet of Trump’s platform.

Another explanation for the anti-establishment revolt is the economic squeeze American families are feeling. As David Frum said in his Atlantic article and again in greater detail in today’s conversation, “The Great Republican Revolt,” the Trump phenomenon and the anti-establishment revolt in the Republican Party are fundamentally about economically stressed GOP supporters—particularly from the white working class—who have concluded that Republican elites are driven by the power of organized money and must be discarded for more radical outsider alternatives.

The anger voters are displaying throughout this election is not without cause: working families across the country are feeling increasingly economically squeezed by rising costs and stagnating wages. From 2000 to 2012, the main costs associated with supporting a family — health care, child care, college tuition, housing, and retirement costs— have increased $10,600, on average.

Unfortunately for the many economically-squeezed voters who are flocking to Trump, Republican policies will only hurt working and middle class families. Here are some Republican policies that will not solve the anger working Americans are feeling:

  • Republican tax policies, which overwhelming benefit the wealthiest Americans at the expense of workings families. Trump’s tax plan would give the richest 1 percent a tax cut of $275,257 on average, which is more than 100 times the size of the middle class tax cut. Cruz manages to one-up Trump by proposing a tax plan that gives the 1 percent a $407,708 tax cut, while the poorest Americans only get an average tax cut of $46.
  • GOP candidates oppose policies that would help families balance work and home. All of the current GOP candidates have not proposed any plans that would provide comprehensive, guaranteed paid family and medical leave for all Americans. Paid family and medical leave is crucial for balancing work and home—without it, workers often have to choose between having a baby or taking time off to care for a loved one and their jobs. Though it is true Marco Rubio proposed a paid family leave plan, it would not guarantee all workers paid leave.
  • GOP policies fail to improve access to quality, affordable child care. Quality, affordable child care is increasingly out of reach for families, as it now costs more than the median rent in every state. Yet GOP candidates have not proposed any policies to help working families deal with rising child care costs, which particularly exacerbate the economic squeeze families face.

BOTTOM LINE: American voters have the right to be frustrated by increasing costs and stagnating wages. We need a president who will help create an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few, and gives all Americans a fair shot to get ahead not just get by. But as their policies make totally clear, Donald Trump and the rest of the GOP presidential field won’t help—all they’re promising is more of the same debunked conservative economic theory.

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