Toward a Trump Republicanism

So though Trump Republicanism has elements of other party traditions, its dominant tone is nationalist. That puts the Democratic party, now suffused with Trump hatred, in danger of positioning itself as anti-nationalist. The withering contempt of many coastal Democrats for heartland Americans who regard patriotism as normal and benign is probably not a political asset.

Two other issues mentioned briefly in the State of the Union address have the potential to move his party away from Bush’s. One is his daughter Ivanka’s proposal for family and medical leave, something free market Republicans have usually spurned.

Democratic versions of this feature yet another Great Society bureaucracy and new taxes on businesses. Trump Republicans might embrace the proposal of lawyer Kristin Shapiro and the American Enterprise Institute’s Andrew Biggs to allow parents to finance leaves through early withdrawals from Social Security in return for delayed retirement. As with Social Security retirement, recipients would arguably be paying something for what they get.

The second issue is infrastructure, on which Trump called for $1.5 trillion in spending. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer pre-emptively attacked the public-private financing Trump is said to support. But public-private financing has been enormously successful abroad, whereas Schumer’s preferred system, the New York Times reports, has produced subway tunneling costs per mile that are seven times the average of the rest of the world.