Economist Bryan Caplan sought to explain why so few Asian Americans support the Republican Party, despite their seemingly aligned philosophies. Asians would seem to be natural Republicans, as they tend to be highly entrepreneurial and have socially conservative traits, including low rates of single motherhood (lower than whites, actually). Yet, despite this, Asians vote for Democrats in higher proportions than even Latinos.
In an earlier most, Caplan looked to the 2012 Presidential Election for examples of what he calls “the Respect Motive.” In that election, Romney won the following demographics: whites, people with income > $50k, whites under 30, white women, and independents. Meanwhile President Obama won majorities of: non-whites, people with income < $50k, non-whites under 30, and non-white women. Caplan observes:
In terms of objective material well-being, it’s unclear whether Romney or Obama would be better for any of these groups. In terms of respect, though, the difference seems pretty obvious. At least to me.
This doesn’t mean that Romney is racist, or that Obama hates the rich. My claim, rather, is simply that Romney doesn’t respect non-whites as much as Obama does, and Obama doesn’t respect the rich as much as Romney does.
Caplan’s answer is that party support has to do foremost with the perception of respect coming from that party. Because Democrats are perceived as having a higher respect for minorities — despite what one might think about the authenticity of that respect — minorities tend to support the Democratic party.
How can we apply this to the current election? What I believe happened is the white working class has been disrespected by both parties for some time. They’ve been running on the inertia of what was built up during the Reagan years, but that reservoir has finally run dry. They couldn’t switch parties because the Democrats are even worse than the GOP, but they were able to commandeer the Republican Party using a man with perfect name recognition, a divided field, and a nomination process designed to elevate a plurality candidate.
And now — like the proverbial dog who caught the car — they’re trying to figure out what to do with it. So far, that has manifested itself as anger: Anger at the system, anger at their lack of respect, anger at the Left, anger at Hillary Clinton, and anger at the people who previously occupied the same party. Unfortunately for them, anger does not a governing coalition make. What they have yet to show is respect for anyone who doesn’t already agree with them.
The unfortunate reality of politics is that you must convince people you don’t respect that you respect them; that’s how elections are won. Just as the old Republican Party struggled to gain support from Latinos (because of the obvious lack of respect for them within the party), and Asians (because the Democratic party is the party that respects minorities), the new Republican Party hasn’t shown respect for much more than half of the electorate, and even many of their former allies now find themselves on the out in the cold.
Until this changes — and it might already be too late — the new Republican party stands little chance in November.