The modern age of Republicanism really began with Ronald Reagan and what was dubbed Reaganomics.
Reaganomics was an economic philosophy that was rooted in the concepts of easing taxes on wealthier individuals and corporations. Doing so, says the economic theory, would inherently free up more money to be reinvested by those individuals and corporations. That would create more jobs for the rest of the people.
Many today call this philosophy “trickle-down” economics. Some, who have benefitted from unfettered capitalism have heralded the policies while many others have expressed how the policies damage the middle class and working families when very little or even nothing “trickles down.”
During this coronavirus pandemic, almost all of the capitalist policies started by Reagan and continued by both Bush’s, and now Trump, had to be curbed in favor of policies that reflect a social democracy more than anything. And so far, those policies have worked well. Some have kept businesses and individuals from going under while much of the economy has been forced to a grinding halt.
This success hasn’t gone unnoticed by Republicans who have clung to Reaganomics and it is fair to say that it has them worried. It has them worried not just about the election in November, but going forward beyond that as Americans see that socially democratic policies can have positive impacts on everyone’s life — not just the wealthy and corporations as they wait for benefits that all too often never “trickle-down.”
The New York Times gives some perspective on how the GOP is reacting to the citizens seeing the benefits of a government that actually works for the people can better their own lives:
Republicans haven’t openly expressed this, but they seem aware of it, to the extent that on the eve of approval of the first coronavirus bill, they tried to kill the most generous provisions of relief — an enormous expansion of unemployment insurance. The reason? “The moment we go back to work, we cannot create an incentive for people to say, ‘I don’t need to go back to work because I can do better someplace else,’” Senator Rick Scott of Florida explained on the Senate floor. In other words, we cannot help people so much that they can effectively bargain for better wages; crisis or not, we must discipline the working class.
There’s no guarantee that Americans will respond to the pandemic and economic collapse with support for more and greater assistance from the federal government. But the possibility is there and it will become more apparent the longer this continues. If the rolling depressions of the late 19th century disrupted the social order enough to open the space for political radicalism — from the agrarian uprising of the Farmers’ Alliance to the militant agitation of the industrial labor movement — then the one-two punch of the Great Recession and the Pandemic Depression might do the same for us.
If one believes that history does indeed repeat itself, then the days of Reaganomics could be near its death. Of course, many events have yet to play out and no one can predict the future with any degree of real accuracy, but the way the United States sent from a capitalist framework to a social-democratic one in about a month shows how fragile the GOP’s economic platform over the past 40 years actually is. This is, perhaps, why so many Republicans and Trump have been hammering to get things reopened before when most medical and scientific experts say it should be.
Americans are now seeing that it isn’t the rich that “create jobs” it is the people. The people are the ones that spend the money, work in the businesses and keep the economy going. When things got rough in America, it was these same corporations that brag about how important and invincible that they are, that were first in line for a handout. After just a week or two of diminished revenues (that come from the people who patronize many of their businesses) these mighty companies that promise to be the rock upon which people rely on, exposed themselves as paper tigers no more prepared for an emergency than their employees who have relied on things trickling down to them over the past 40 years.
Now, with people under 40 and especially 30 being some of the most liberal and progressive voters we have had since 1932, America could be poised for the kind of revolution that people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been talking about for years. 2020 could be remembered by history as the year that a virus killed Republican economic policy that had lived, thrived, and survived for 40 years. A virus that had the side-effect of opening people’s eyes to the inherent and sometimes fatal flaws of Reagan’s supply-side economics and trickle-down theory.