The party’s base is older white voters who rely on Social Security and Medicare. Many of these people are not in the wealth-creating phase of their lives. According to the elite Republican consensus, they are part of the “47 percent” that Mitt Romney so cavalierly dismissed as takers. But these voters say a cut to their “earned” benefits is an insult to their honor, and their willingness to work hard and play by the rules. We are a long way from the time that George W. Bush claimed a mandate to create privatized Social Security accounts.
Other members of the base include younger red-state evangelicals, some of whom have trouble finding the resources to support their families in a gig economy, and are stuck in part-time work. For these voters, the GOP’s catechism about free trade and free markets is abstract and of dubious value. This is why some of Trump’s best applause lines — on trade and other financial issues — are those in which he promises to fight and negotiate tenaciously in the interest of Americans.
It is a personal knowledge of these voters that leads Ingraham to say, “I don’t think most GOP voters will cry a river over hedge funders paying same rates as everyone else.” She’s right.
Jeb Bush has taken the opportunity to bash Trump for insufficient conservatism. Democrats should be pleased that potential nominees like Bush are tying themselves rhetorically to the tax-cutting, benefit-slashing right wing.