November’s election revealed that the class realignment of our two parties is solidifying. Democrats have increasingly emerged as the party of upscale suburbs, of Silicon Valley and Hollywood and Wall Street, of the owners of capital and the professionals who service them. The GOP, meanwhile, is trending toward a multiracial working-class party, preferred by those who generally make their living by toil.
So why are conservatives fretting about corporate America cutting off the GOP, a process merely accelerated by last week’s (disgraceful) mob assault on the Capitol? Did they think building a working-class party was going to be painless? That they could mouth pro-worker rhetoric while continuing to ignore workers’ concerns on issues like immigration and wages? A country-club party with blue-collar décor?
That jig was going to be up at some point. The sooner, the better — for an underrepresented American working class and for Republicans who take the realignment seriously.
The hypocrisy is galling. Last year, Amazon, Airbnb and a host of other marquee corporations funded a group, Black Lives Matter, founded by avowed Marxists. As peaceful protests over the killing of George Floyd devolved into riots, corporate America didn’t let up its uncritical embrace of a far-left movement seeking to #DefundthePolice.
Now, many of those same companies have cut off donations to GOP lawmakers for exercising a right granted them under the Constitution, whatever the wisdom of their objections to certifying electors. Amazon and Airbnb, both donors to Black Lives Matter (the organization), are among them. So are many others that embraced BLM the movement: Salesforce. American Express. Marriott. Blue Cross Blue Shield. On and on.
But conservatives need to stop whining, because that gets boring. Yes, beginning in 2015, the entire US establishment arrayed itself against GOP populism. It did so in fear of President Trump’s threat to rejigger a postwar consensus that had worked out very well for the elite, not so much for workers. Trump only partially delivered. He was hampered at every step, and his best energies dissipated in the hot air of his online bluster.
The corporate backlash will no doubt scare some Republican faux-populists into dropping even their rhetorical gestures toward the working class. The old guard awaits the wayward prodigal, to return to the comfortable fold of marginal tax cuts and useless foreign wars. Picture Paul Ryan’s wingtips stamped on the face of the American right — forever.
But that would be a monumental mistake, because as 2016 showed and 2020 confirmed, the votes simply aren’t there for that. The old agenda threatened to turn the GOP into a regional rump party (see 2008 and 2012). By contrast, the Trump GOP, warts and all, expanded its appeal to Hispanics and young black men in 2020 while consolidating the white working class.
Today’s Democrats sure don’t represent this multiracial working class. The party and its Big Tech and Big Media allies deliver mostly for the HR department — a k a you’re fired for saying the wrong thing. Mass student-loan forgiveness would end up transferring wealth from everyone else to the cognitive elite. Amazon’s Democratic-approved wokery masks appalling working conditions and union-busting.
So the embarrassing task must fall to be a true party of the working class. I say “embarrassing,” because for one thing, today’s starkly unequal America is, in part, a product of policies Republicans championed for at least two generations (“700 percent interest loans for the poor are of the essence of libertuh!”). Class talk, moreover, smacks of Marxism and “socialism.”
But the multiracial working class doesn’t want socialism, either. That much, we also know from the 2020 results. What it wants is a market economy in which ordinary life isn’t so precarious, where health insurance just works, where you can raise a family in a culturally sane, orderly environment.
Is this a right-wing pundit’s idea of a pro-worker agenda? Maybe. But you know what? With their Amex cards cut off and Twitter accounts purged, would-be pro-worker GOPers now have an opportunity to visit union halls and trucker weigh stations and Amazon warehouses — and just listen.
Sohrab Ahmari is The Post’s op-ed editor and author of the forthcoming book “The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos.”