WSJ: GOP Mistaken to Ignore Santorum, New Populism

Image: WSJ: GOP Mistaken to Ignore Santorum, New Populism

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 11:16 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Republicans are ignoring potential presidential candidate Rick Santorum at their own peril, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Washington Bureau Chief Gerald Seib calls the former Pennsylvania senator a "long shot" to become the GOP nominee in the next race for the White House.

But he warns that Santorum’s new book "Blue Collar Conservatives" pinpoints the problems with the Republican Party, which appears to have dismissed Santorum’s chances of getting the nomination following his failed presidential bid in 2012.

Seib writes that Santorum has "grasped two important realities that seem to escape many others" in the party.

"The first is that, outmoded stereotypes notwithstanding, blue-collar Americans, particularly working-class whites in the South and Midwest, today comprise a core element of the Republican Party.e.

"The second reality is that, because of the alienation these people feel from both the political and economic systems, the table is set for a new period of populism."

Santorum says in his book that Republicans need to create a new agenda to help working-class Americans before the next general election, according to Seib.

"We Republicans have neglected to focus our policies and our rhetoric on the plight of lower income Americans," Santorum writes. "Our focus on tax cuts for individuals not only leaves us open to the 'tax breaks for the rich' sloganeering of the left but seems irrelevant to the nearly 50 percent of the population who don't pay federal income taxes today."

Santorum claims Democrats have angered working-class Americans with their race-based politics, but also notes in his book that Republicans have failed to take advantage of the situation by coming up with policies to aid those blue-collar citizens.

Seib says Santorum wants tax cuts aimed at middle-class families and parents with young children, while the former senator also believes that more spending on infrastructure projects will help struggling workers.

Although the ex-senator calls for a reduction in government regulations just like virtually every Republican, he’s not in favor of free-trade agreements that will hurt manufacturing workers.

"Mr. Santorum is arguing for a GOP agenda that better reflects this rank and file," wrote Seib. "As it happens, Hillary Clinton did well among these very blue-collar voters in her 2008 primary run for the Democratic nomination. Mr. Santorum is pleading with his party not to take them for granted now."

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