The political transition that propelled Trump to power will deepen, since the fate of his base will worsen dramatically. A Brookings report shows that regions facing the biggest economic threats from climate change voted for Trump. To make matters worse, the next crop of jobs threatened by automation is also highly concentrated in the American heartland. As such, dissatisfaction in the heartland is likely to rise significantly in the coming years. Trump’s 2016 populist victory could merely be the first phase of a deep political transition.
What does this mean?
Trump’s intuition of an American workforce left behind by the socio-cultural and economic forces behind globalization is transforming into an intellectual force. In fact, both Democrats and Republicans have already presented more ambitious plans than those of the last election cycle. Ocasio-Cortez’s (Democrat) Green New Deal calls for “a national, social, industrial and economic mobilization at a scale not seen since World War II.” She has also gained attention by advocating tax reform, free college and Medicare for all. On the Republican side, Marco Rubio now advocates federal labor law reform to rebuild the middle class. Oren Cass’s (Republican) The Once and Future Worker has also gained widespread attention for its pro-labor stance.
In the next phase of the deep political transition, both U.S. parties will try to sell economic reform. Trump’s support stretches from the American heartland to the periphery of large cities. Nevertheless, during his reign, these places will be hit even harder by structural change (e.g. climate change, automation). Rather than mere populist rhetoric, politicians will try to win these people over with genuine reform plans. Hence, while the first phase of the deep political transition was characterized by identity politics, the next phase will be focused on building a new economic order. As such, the current political transition resembles the beginning of the 20th century, when both parties’ reform movements absorbed populist energy, which led to FDR’s New Deal.