by Evie Fordham
If the last few years in politics have felt disruptive, that’s because they were — and more disruption is on the way, predicted Republican strategist Bruce Mehlman of lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas.
Mehlman spoke to The Daily Caller News Foundation this week about the trends he foresees in the decade to follow 2020, an era he is already dubbing “The Roaring 2020s.”
“People roar at the world when they don’t feel that they’re being noticed or heard or accommodated,” Mehlman said. “In my mind, the voices of concern will continue to grow louder until everyone is roaring in the 2020s about the changes they think are necessary to make them and their families better dealt into the modern world.”
Mehlman pointed out that while the real U.S. GDP has increased 112 percent since the late 1980s, real median family income has climbed less than 19 percent. That leaves many voters feeling left behind, with candidates on both the right and left attempting to capitalize on their attitudes.
“That was part of [President] Donald Trump’s populist message, as well as many progressive candidates’ message. … You’re seeing the beginnings of a bumper sticker battle in 2020: capitalism versus socialism,” Mehlman said.
“When you look past that, there are going to be genuine discussions of how we maintain but reform capitalism to accommodate new realities,” he continued.
What are those new realities? Mehlman cited a changing job market due to technological advancement, rising income inequality and a growing imbalance between workers and retirees, among others.
Political trends are just trailing indicators of these new realities, which are contributing to a political landscape that’s increasingly marked by disruption, Mehlman said. He pointed to an increase in “change elections” in which the House of Representatives, Senate or White House flipped. There were three change elections between 1960 and 1978, four between 1980 and 1998 and eight between 2000 and 2018, Mehlman said.
That political whiplash could be connected to a growing aversion to compromise among voters. There’s been a “substantial shift” among voters toward politicians who stick to their positions rather than compromise, according to the Pew Research Center.
What Will Happen To The GOP Post-Trump?
Another crucial topic Mehlman discussed is what the Republican party will look like post-Trump, whether he wins re-election in 2020 or not.
“You’ll see greater effort by Republicans to appeal to a broader group of Americans than the current Trump base. Policy will lead the way,” Mehlman said.
He predicted growing climate interest, moderation on immigration, reinvestment in western alliances and an overall softer tone among Republicans should Trump fail in 2020.
Mehlman also posed the question of whether the 2020s will see a reversal in growing globalization. Trump’s America First foreign policy is at play right now, but over the next decade the U.S. could once again participate in Eastern versus Western bloc tensions or choose to go it alone amid increasing security fears and new supply chain patterns.
Pre-midterms, Mehlman shared his predictions about the disruption headed for Washington, D.C., thanks to a “fraught” lame duck session and rookie 116th Congress.
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