CNBC’s Rick Santelli’s April 2009 rant regarding proposed stimulus spending by the Obama administration contributed to the birth of the Tea Party, that fringe element of the Republican Party that advocated for less government interference in the markets, reduced government spending, and reduced taxes. While the movement did not create any legislative success, I wouldn’t call it a complete failure since the movement was able to persuade some members of Congress to advocate for the movement’s position on spending and taxes.
Could the Democratic Party benefit from such a movement? The past two weeks have seen Congressional Democrats voice concerns espoused by protesters during a number of marches and protests. Concerns have ranged from reproductive rights to immigration to civil rights to repealing the Affordable Care Act. These concerns, however, were not the concerns of the voters that supported Donald Trump in November 2016.
Lower and middle income white voters expressed feelings of economic disenfranchisement and that civil rights initiatives worked against them. Loss of manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt added fuel to the feelings of economic disenfranchisement. Also, some Trump supporters like the idea of a president dedicated to growing the economy without redistributing wealth.
These are the voters that Hillary Clinton did not reach in 2016 and if the Democrats want to do well in the midterms, they will have to craft political packages to win these voters over. So far there is no indication that Democrats intend to address, legislatively at least, the concerns that drove rural voters to come out for Trump. My review of 200 (12.1%) pieces of legislation filed in the House during the 115th Congress indicates that no Democrats have filed any legislation addressing the concerns that drove Mr Trump’s supporters. It is still early but Democrats don’t appear to eager to knock on the doors of people living in the “Flyover States.”