Much of the world may be surprised to learn that one of the icons of conservatism, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, known for leading the Republican Party in the 1980s, was originally a registered Democrat. At the age of 50 he re-registered as a Republican. When asked why, he replied, “I didn’t leave the Democratic party – the Democratic party left me.” What we see happening globally parallels that sentiment, opening a window of opportunity for conservative parties all around the world.
The most recent example, of course, was the December 12, 2019 general election in the U.K. where Boris Johnson not only held onto his Prime Ministership but won with a nearly historic margin of victory. As much as the voting public may have been in support of his leadership, his commitment to implementing Brexit, and other policies he promoted, many voters said YES to Boris Johnson as an emphatic NO to Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn had promised to nationalize many public entities, expand government services and increase taxes to pay for those additional programs. He was seen by many as anti-Semitic, anti-business, was committed to open borders and advocated for a green energy plan which would likely have bankrupted the nation. His allies were radical nations and his role models were extreme leftists with agendas far too progressive for even traditional Labour voters. Many who typically voted Labour, but voted for Boris Johnson, likely echoed Reagan, “I didn’t leave the Labour party, the Labour party left me.”
Earlier last year, we saw a similar dynamic play out in Australia, where Prime Minister Scott Morrison was challenged by Labor leader, Bill Shorten, who likewise led with a platform promising higher taxes to primarily support a green energy plan for Australia. This green energy plan had already been implemented in a Labor-led state, South Australia, and was causing increased prices (at times the highest per kilowatt hour in the developed world), shortages, sporadic availability and even total blackouts. Those who already adopted the plan were dissatisfied yet Shorten continued to preach its merit to the rest of Australia. He also was soft on border control, which would re-open the floodgates of illegal boat people – a dangerous and unpopular stance. Despite all the “experts” and all the polling leading up to the election calling it “unwinnable” for Scott Morrison, he won with a comfortable margin, seemingly “shocking” all the experts. It was no surprise, however, to the quiet Australians who refused to listen to the propaganda and promises of the left, voted their consciences and elected a more conservative candidate. Morrison’s election too, was buoyed by those who felt that they didn’t leave the Labor party, but the Labor party had left them.
We see the same scenario playing out in the United States with the upcoming 2020 Presidential election where Donald Trump will face a Democratic candidate still to be determined. Yet regardless of which nominee is selected, we are certain to see the exact same scenario. The leading candidates are tripping over themselves to be more radical, more progressive and further left than the next one, and are increasingly out of step, even with those who traditionally vote for Democrats. They are tone deaf to the reasons why Donald Trump was elected in 2016 and they are unwilling to stand up to the loudest and most extreme voices of their own party. They are veering further and further away from the centre of their own base, leaving many already wondering if the party continues to leave them, where will they go? They likely will look at their bank accounts, their businesses, their retirement funds, their neighbours and their communities and realize that even if they don’t always like Donald Trump’s style, the substance of what he is doing has truly helped them economically and strengthened the nation.
As Democrats in the U.S. increasingly alienate their own supporters and narrow their appeal, President Trump has reduced unemployment across every sector, wages have risen, he is helping revive the poorest and most dangerous inner cities and is gaining support amongst demographics that are traditionally Democrat strongholds. Some very unlikely additions to the Republican Party may help catapult Donald Trump back into the White House for four more years in spectacular fashion in 2020, not because voters are choosing to leave the Democratic party, but they are finally accepting the reality that the Democratic party left them long ago.
For many in the United States, Ronald Reagan is the de facto Godfather of conservatism. Perhaps his words from the past are equally fitting today for a global audience which is realizing that the conservative community worldwide is a welcoming place not just for a few, but for all who feel their party has left them.