President Donald Trump should adopt a “Johnson-style platform” for his 2020 presidential reelection campaign to unify “working-class and middle-class voters” on the issues of government-administered services and immigration reform, said Washington Post columnist Henry Olsen, author of The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism, in a Thursday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.
Olsen likened Thursday’s general election in the United Kingdom to the 1980 presidential election.
“This is the 1980 election,” said Olsen, “where working-class Democrats who had been Democrats by heritage, who would never think about voting for a Republican, decided en masse to give Ronald Reagan a try.”
Ronald Reagan won “working-class areas” that — with the exception of Richard Nixon’s win in the 1968 presidential election — “for 50 years … hadn’t elected Republicans since the Great Depression,” explained Olsen.
“That’s what’s going on, right now, in Blyth Valley and [in] areas all throughout declining industrial Wales and England [which] are voting for the Tories,” continued Olsen. “They’re doing it because of Brexit, and because Labour no longer represents them, and they’re doing it because Boris Johnson pledged a new type of Conservative Party that was going to make the government investments in services and infrastructure they need, and give them protection against competition from low-skilled immigration that they desperately need, so they decided to give him a try.”
Olsen added, “You may hear some Tories say, ‘These are the people that voted for Margaret Thatcher.’ No, they’re not.”
Olsen described a realignment of British politics regarding the Conservative Party’s and Labour Party’s appeals to varying demographic groups along the lines of income and education.
“This is an upending of the British class system of politics,” determined Olsen. “The Tories will represent — have a larger share of their vote — coming from people without strong middle-class or education backgrounds for the first time in their history, or at least for the first time in the 21st century. It’s just an amazing thing happening [in the U.K.] tonight, and it’s going to save their country.”
Mansour asked what lessons Trump can draw from Thursday’s British election.
“I think the biggest thing that President Trump needs to do, because ultimately, next election it comes down to him, is … he needs to adopt a Johnson-style platform, and he needs to take it to the Democrats,” replied Olsen.
“[Donald Trump] needs to offer a sort of positive agenda that appeals to working-class and middle-class voters and unites them, and needs to spend a lot of time on building that and being serious about that, and I personally think that when the Democratic House predictably doesn’t enact his policy, he should do what Harry Truman [did to them], and call a special session and label them, ‘The Do-Nothing Congress,'” added Olsen.
“[Donald Trump] needs to go and [make] his infrastructure plan a priority, and say that he will hold Republicans accountable for it, that America needs to get its people moving, it needs to get its goods moving, and the means it’s going to require public money,” stated Olsen in describing his view of a “positive agenda” for Trump.
Olsen went on, “I think [a positive agenda] means talking about being serious about immigration beyond the wall… There [are] a lot of things you can do without worrying about building the wall that can make it very difficult for non-legal — illegal — immigrants to hold jobs in this country. He needs to pursue those.”
“I think he needs to pursue middle-class and working-class tax cuts,” added Olsen. “Boris Johnson ran on… cutting the payroll tax, not on cutting corporate tax and not on cutting top-rate income tax. I think the president needs to go into the reelection with a payroll tax cut, or some sort of working-class tax cut, and I think he needs to invest in apprenticeships and vocational education. They’re doing some of that, but he needs to put it front and center.
Olsen concluded, “That needs to be a working-class agenda that is something that doesn’t feel to what can be called racism, but rather, appeals to Americanism, that we’re all in it together and that means we’re going to be working on expending public effort on behalf of everyone.”
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Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.