The Northern Strategy Explained (user search)
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Author Topic: The Northern Strategy Explained  (Read 38421 times)
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Abdullah
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« on: July 07, 2021, 09:37:56 AM »

In this post I will attempt to explain the Northern Strategy that I have talked about for several months now.

The Northern Strategy must be understood in context.  After Romney's defeat in 2012 (which wasn't exactly the height of Obama's popularity) Republicans, from the rank-and-file to the party elites wanted to know exactly where the Romney campaign went wrong so the problem could be fixed.  This sounded easy in theory, but no one could agree on what the problem was or the solutions.  The first explanation to come out was that the GOP was too white.  Republicans needed to appeal to the black community, the Hispanic community, or both.  Many people saw Marco Rubio as the candidate to do this.  The second explanation was that the GOP was too socially conservative.  People arguing this pointed to Todd Aiken's defeat in Missouri along with the polls in 2012 suggesting a majority or plurality in favor of same-sex marriage for the first time in history.  These were the more mainstream theories.

Other less accepted theories were that the Romney campaign wasn't conservative enough and he lost because conservatives stayed home.  After all, Romney was pretty moderate.  Ted Cruz was seen as the answer for people who believed this.  There was also the theory that the GOP needed to be more libertarian.  I argued this point during 2014 on this forum.  The idea was that Romney lost because his foreign policy views were too aggressive and out of touch with Americans and he didn't attack Obama on surveillance/civil liberty issues.  Rand Paul was the obvious choice for the libertarians.

All throughout right-wing political forums and comment sections, Republicans argued over how to take back the White House.  It is worth pointing out that many people argued a combination of these theories.  The libertarians were dealt a serious blow after the rise of ISIS and when the GOP rallied against the Iran Deal.  After this, the battle was between Conservatives and moderates.  But then, in June of 2015, everything changed.

On June 16, 2015, Donald John Trump gave a speech announcing his intention to run for President.  At first, most people laughed.  I didn't take it seriously at the time.  I assumed he would finish 5th in Iowa at best and then drop out.  But he defied expectations and won the nomination, despite being despised by many in his own party.  His path to the White House still seemed narrow.  He had to appeal to people that voted for Obama in 2012 if he wanted to win.  Doubly so considering that many Republicans wouldn't vote for him.  The question was, how would he do it?  Minority outreach obviously wasn't going to work for him.  And he couldn't play the "true conservative" card like Cruz could.

His only option, therefore, was the Northern Strategy.  He would appeal to white Democrats.  He would talk about social issues as little as possible while still keeping religious conservatives (who generally didn't support him in the primaries) on board.  He would then use economic populism and fear of Islamic terrorism in order to win over white voters who typically vote Democrat.  And the strategy worked, in no small part due to Hillary's unpopularity.  What most people don't realize is how much of a departure the Northern Strategy is from how Republicans campaigned in the past.

Immigration.  While the GOP has been the party of immigration restriction since the 19th century, the rhetoric is clearly different.  Take the issue of Islamic immigration.  During the 2000s much of the opposition to Islamic immigration came from "America is a Christian country, Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays!"  In 2017 the argument against Islamic immigration is that Muslims are a threat to secularism, to women's rights, and to gay rights.  An irreligious man who typically votes Democrat will ignore the former argument but might be worried about the latter.

Transgender bathrooms.  Trump said that transgender people can use whatever bathrooms they want.  I think it's safe to say that the majority of Republicans along with many Democrats and independents, disagree with Trump (see Houston).   Compare this with how Republicans reacted to the legalization of SSM in Massachusetts in 2004.  Republicans made gay marriage a central campaign issue and it probably got Bush reelected.  Furthermore, in 2004 the Republicans used social issues to appeal to minorities and immigrants.  This is a significant change.

The Republican Party of the future will continue to pursue the Northern Strategy.  2016 proved that it could get a candidate as unpopular as Trump elected.  It also proved that there are still a large number of minorities that will vote Republican.  By the mid 2020s the transformation should be mostly complete.  Sure, there will still be libertarians, social conservatives, etc. but they will be increasingly marginalized as populism becomes the official ideology.  America will continue to be less and less religious, and regular religious attendance will become associated with immigrant populations.  Republicans will position themselves as saviors of secularism against immigrants from the third world.  In other words, the American right is becoming like the European right.  Hardcore fiscal conservatism will fall out of favor as well, and the GOP will move to the left on economics.

Thoughts?

Very interesting, CELTICEMPIRE.

With four more years of reflection, how have your views on the "Northern Strategy" and its adoption changed?
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