Last week, Josh Hawley came out in favor of the federal government investigating Amazon’s business practices. This follows on the heels of the Senator from Missouri calling for an even larger stimulus package than the CARES Act. Barely a month before, Marco Rubio, the now senior US Senator from Florida, called for a redefinition of work in the United States, in recognition of how work has begun to infringe on the family structure. It is a theme only amplified by the uncertainty and difficulties of juggling kids at home and work during “Stay at Home” orders.
Both Senators have seen their profiles amplified among the rank and file in the age of Trump. While the President, without a firm ideology, courted non-traditional Republican voters with this theme, Rubio and Hawley actually have the policy know-how and truly do seem to believe it. With voters re-sorting and the class compositions of the parties changing this is likely to only amplify their presence in the party.
It is remarkable how quickly this shift has occurred. In the span of two elections, 16 and 18, common political ethos have been shredded. Trump deserves credit for noting this shift occurring, particularly in the GOP for the better part of a decade, and exploiting it. That said, his lack of a firm ideology or belief system has hindered any future shift in the GOP.
Instead, traditional heavyweights such as Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy have largely guided the party. Both are wedded to the small government ideology of the party rooted in the Reagan era. Sure, they will make deals, and sure they will do just enough to court new GOP voters, but they hardly believe in the ideologies guiding these new GOP voters.
Hawley and Rubio do. At its core, this populism is a mix of faith based politics emphasizing family over work and using governmental power to improve peoples lives in targeted ways. The obvious examples from COVID – 19, for example, would be economic stimulus. In the case of Hawley and Amazon, another is the power of the government to investigate.
Admittedly, the future of the GOP is not to fully become Democratic Lite. Those exaggerations miss the shifting nature of American politics. There will be beliefs Republicans will continue to stick to regardless of other changes – lower taxes, less regulations, etc. But, even in today’s far left Democratic Party, some of those beliefs persist today.
The largest and probably easiest difference to identify the parties will be cultural. Democrats will continue to embrace a cosmopolitan, elitist, socially liberal agenda and their voters will benefit from globalization. On the other hand, while economics may become less of a flash-point between the parties, social issues and culture will become the main fissure,
If COVID -19 has clarified anything it is American’s will largely sacrifice their personal freedoms for perceived greater economic and personal security. Smart and savvy candidates would be able to exploit this feature of the average American to a significant degree.
While Trump steps on his own message and his personality turns away many people, a candidate with a more appealing personality and a more compelling message could easily pass a more ideologically driven agenda. Enter Rubio and Hawley. Both are charismatic, young and honestly could likely bridge just enough of a divide in the party to move forward in the post- Trump era GOP. Both represent the future of the GOP.