In the pages of Politico in May 2016, I wrote that the partisan realignment of voters among the two major parties was nearly complete, while the policy realignment had only just begun:  “What we’re seeing this year is the beginning of a policy realignment, when those new partisan coalitions decide which ideas and beliefs they stand for — when, in essence, the party platforms catch up to the shift in party voters that has already happened.” 

Since then, the partisan realignment has continued.  In the 2018 mid-terms, according to exit polls, 61 percent of white without college degrees approved of President Trump’s performance, compared to only 40 percent of college-educated whites.  In the mid-terms non-college educated whites preferred Republican by 24 points, while whites with college diplomas preferred the Democrats by 8 points.  Today three-quarters of House Republicans represent districts with fewer college graduates than the national average. 

The Republican country club is now a country and western club.  More and more intellectuals on the right have noticed.  They are asking why Republicans in Congress and conservatives in think tanks are pushing tax cuts for the Democrat-leaning rich and cuts in Social Security and Medicare spending on working-class Republican voters.   

Daniel McCarthy’s essay “A New Conservative Agenda” makes him the latest thinker on the right, joining others like Reihan Salam, Ross Douthat, Oren Cass, Henry Olsen, Patrick Deneen, and the editors and contributors of American Affairs and American Greatness, to speculate about what an agenda that actually served the interests of Republican voters would look like.  This is part of a larger trans-Atlantic conversation among “postliberals” including the British thinkers David Goodhart and Philip Blond and Maurice Glasman, who are pushing back against the synthesis of economic libertarianism and radical individualism that defines today’s Western establishment. 

Postliberal thinkers, aligned with Republican voters, are on a collision course with the libertarians who still dominate the GOP donor class and enjoy lucrative think tank perches and columns.  For half a century, the American conservative movement has outsourced its economic thinking to libertarians who denounce the New Deal as fascist and idolize Calvin Coolidge—as though the brain of Ayn Rand had been put into the body of Andrew Jackson.   It is time for a brain transplant on the right, and not a moment too soon. 

is the author of The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution.

More Thoughts


How “German” Were the Progressives?

Contrary to James Poulos and Glenn Ellmers writing in The American Mind, I did not produce a “mixed review” of John Marini’s excellent study of the American administrative state. I extolled Marini’s examination of our increasingly unaccountable centralized state and was especially drawn to his focus on Congress’s role in this misfortune. But I part…


Joseph Ellis’ Founding Figments

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph J. Ellis spent years trying to make the Founders relevant. Now, he’s trying to make them woke. In a new essay, Ellis defends the Green New Deal (GND), the omnibus environmental legislation championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But Ellis doesn’t just offer his own support of the bill; he claims it’s…


Algorithms of Suppression

Update: Google’s Acting Director of Political and Stakeholder Outreach got in touch with the Claremont Institute to notify us that the labeling of The American Mind as a “racially oriented publication” was a mistake. Our re-marketing ad campaign to americanmind.org readers for our annual dinner is now active once again. See below for our initial summary…