Still, I think Alexander is making the same mistake Rubio, Hawley, et al, are guilty of. They seem to think winning over the new Trump voters or “Obama-Trump” voters is the whole ballgame. What’s lacking is the cost-benefit analysis. Let’s stipulate that populism attracts many voters who normally don’t vote. So far, most of these voters aren’t very reliable when Trump isn’t on the ticket. Meanwhile, these crude populist appeals have cost the GOP historically extremely reliable voters in the suburbs.
It’s certainly possible that if current trends continue, the GOP could come out ahead in this strategy. But that looks unlikely so far, particularly when you consider the larger cultural context. First, if the left is correct that the culture/class messaging of the pre-Trump GOP lead inexorably to Trump, it’s worth considering what horrors fully committing to Trumpy populism might yield (I mean beyond the storming of the Capitol by a violent mob).
I think all serious political observers agree that the Democrats have a massive asymmetric advantage when it comes to controlling the centers of cultural power in America. Pursuing a strategy that essentially says, “We’re the party of the powerless and culturally aggrieved,” doesn’t strike me as a great way to hold on to many traditional (general election) GOP voters, never mind convert enough new ones to make up for the growing shortfall. And again, the prospect of success—i.e. Trumpifying the majority of the country—might be scarier than failure.