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Thomas Mills: GOP winning economic, losing culture war

Editor’s note: The following are two excerpts posted on politicsnc.com by founder and publisher Thomas Mills.

Jim Geraghty, a writer for National Review, recently laid out his theory of why so many conservatives have embraced President Donald Trump with cult-like adoration and loyalty. At the heart of the matter is a victim mentality by conservatives who have largely lost the culture war.

They feel like Democrats “enjoy sticking the thumb” in their eyes every time they win on some issue.

Trump, they believe, is the hero they lacked who plays by the same rules as the Democrats who has ridiculed and belittled them. He’s their hero, the street fighter they need, unencumbered by political correctness and saying out loud what they all are thinking. Maybe he can rally them back from the losses on the battlefield of the culture wars.

But while conservatives may have largely lost the culture wars, they’ve won the economic war.

Ever since Reagan, we’ve seen taxes, especially on the wealthy, continue on a downward trajectory. Our social safety gets thinner and thinner while the wallets of the wealthy get thicker and thicker.

Some form of supply side economics has survived Democratic presidents and Democratic Congresses, yet the system is still not working for too many Americans.

For the first time in history, the wealthiest Americans pay less in taxes than the working class. The Trump tax cuts that Republicans herald are paid largely by a record debt that saddles middle- class America with a burden that will hamper their financial well-being for generations. We’ll almost certainly pay for this debt by cutting services that benefit middle- and low-income families.

Since the beginning of the Reagan revolution we’ve watched pensions for workers become almost non-existent while bonuses for CEOs explode. States like North Carolina cut unemployment benefits to distressingly low levels, while severance packages for poor performing executives leaves them with healthy retirements if they never want to work again.

In the Great Recession, middle America lost trillions of dollars. In the aftermath, the wealthy have not only recovered, they’ve flourished. Many middle-class families never will.

Since the 1990s, the U.S. has become an increasingly tolerant country. We’ve embraced marriage equality and given women more reproductive freedom. People of all colors and ethnicities live with less discrimination in our increasingly multicultural society. That’s the culture war that the left has won.

However, since Reagan, the economic structure that pushes for less taxes on the wealthy and rewards investment income more than wages has led to massive inequality, what conservatives call economic freedom. That’s the war Republicans won.

Garland Tucker dropped out of the GOP Senate primary in North Carolina on Monday. Sen. Thom Tillis must be feeling a bit relieved, but it could be short lived.

After the courts approved the newly drawn congressional districts yesterday, two other Republican congressmen found themselves in districts they can’t win. Rep. Mark Walker’s 6th Congressional District is now a Democratic stronghold. So is Rep. George Holding’s 2nd Congressional District. Both men are probably weighing a primary to Tillis.

Tucker said that he couldn’t raise the money to compete with Tillis and that he’s not willing to spend his own to win the nomination. Tucker probably thought he could exploit Tillis’ low-approval ratings and mushy ideological credentials to build an insurgent campaign. Unfortunately, button-down businessmen don’t usually make very good rebels. Tillis, for his part, maintained the support of the president and Tucker never gained the traction he needed.

Walker was once touted as a potential primary opponent to Tillis. Walker brings more authentic conservative credentials and has less establishment baggage in the era of Trump. Walker upset Phil Berger Jr. in a 2014 GOP primary to capture his seat, showing he’s not scared to take on the establishment. Now that his district has deep blue hue, he needs to make a different move.

Walker could primary Rep. Ted Budd for the newly drawn 13th District. A lot of his 6th District voters got moved over there. He could sit out 2020 and start running for Richard Burr’s seat in 2022, getting a head start on potential successors to the supposedly retiring senior senator. Or he could primary Tillis.

Walker has enough money to launch a campaign. He’s sitting on about $750,000 and would probably get support from outside groups who would prefer him to Tillis. He’ll have to decide fast, though.

Tillis is probably vulnerable to a primary. He’s not well respected by the base and he has no discernable core values. Walker would be the strongest opponent. He’s got solid, conservative credentials and he’s a better natural politician than Tillis.

He’s also been close to President Donald Trump and the president would likely stay out of the primary. That said, Walker’s also a better candidate than Ted Budd and a congressional race is much easier than a statewide one.

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