Well, it really happened, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States bringing an end I believe to ever increasing social liberalism regarding public policy and what the dominant culture officially believes in. This is a momentous event, the end of a 150 year trend of ever increasing feminism and social liberalism ever since the Married Women Property Acts were passed in the United States from 1839 to 1865 to get rid of the coverture system that the United States had inherited from England.
The end of ever increasing family breakdown and social disorder was seen in 2009 I believe; that being when the out-of-wedlock birth ratio peaked and when married women in the workforce peaked. Given this wider context it is not so shocking to see a turn towards social conservatism at the political level considering that greater conservatism was already being seen since 2009 in people’s family behaviors. That is a 7 year lag (from 2009 to 2016) between people’s behavior becoming more conservative and people’s beliefs as expressed through political choice becoming more conservative. It is a general rule that people change their behavior before they change their beliefs; that first they feel conservative and then they think conservative. In the advance of feminism the acceleration in family breakdown started in 1960 but it wasn’t until the early 1970s that the law and cultural practices became officially feminist.
The final peak of legal social liberalism appears to be the Supreme Court ruling of Obergefell vs. Hodges decided on June 26, 2015 mandating so called “gay marriage” nationwide. More recently there was a move by the Obama administration’s Departments of Justice and Education on May 13, 2016 to impose transgender acceptance upon all public schools where students are to be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their so called “gender identity” regardless of what sex they were actually born as. This policy however is not likely to be continued once Trump enters into office.
The election of Donald Trump is truly amazing as he didn’t follow any of the “rules” of how a candidate is supposed to behave; he openly and directly attacked the “establishment” of the Republican Party and the Media and of conventional niceties in general and won doing it. This clearly shows that Donald Trump is “something new” in politics, that he is a repudiation of the old order; the old order being ever “progressing” social liberalism.
Donald Trump flipped Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania from Democrat in 2012 to Republican in 2016 to win 306 electoral votes versus Clinton’s 232 electoral votes. Other than Florida these are Rust Belt states where there has been a lot of loss of manufacturing jobs harming the white working class, Donald Trump’s main constituency that Trump is appealing to with his call for protectionism against imports and his promise to reduce immigration and maybe expel the illegal immigrants that are already here. These white working class communities hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs have a lot of family problems, in particular opiate abuse leading to many premature drug overdose deaths. The white working class does tend to be socially conservative in their political beliefs and their family ideals even though in practice they have a high level of problems and disorder.
Another voting group that came out heavily in support of Trump was white rural voters (the rural population being heavily white anyways). The rural population is strongly socially conservative; you need to remember that family breakdown got started in the cities so for several decades problems like divorce were much lower among rural people than among city folk.
Trump himself seems to be an alt-right / manosphere type. A mild version of alt-right / manosphere compared to what you find on the internet but basically in that category. The alt-right / manosphere as internet phenomenon got started in 2009 at the same time that the Tea Party emerged. The alt-right and manosphere are definitely socially conservative but in a different way than the traditional religious right is socially conservative. The alt-right and manosphere are more radical and more aggressively anti-feminist but they have a less developed level of ethics and general sense of how they are supposed to behave as men. The alt-right and manosphere are not religious and so do not have the well developed social system that religion teaches and supports. Still there is a natural alliance between the alt-right / manosphere and traditional religion because they are both against the feminist / gay rights current dominant social order and the alt-right / manosphere can see that religion is what made society work in the past and therefore is a socially positive force.
Trump chose Mike Pence, a strong religious social conservative, as his Vice President. Religious Right figures have also strongly influenced the Republican Party Platform under Donald Trump. Trump won the white Evangelical vote 81% to 16% against Hillary Clinton.
The Donald Trump coalition seems to be the Alt-Right, the Manosphere, the Religious Right, and the white working class that have been harmed by international trade or high levels of immigration altering their communities and competing for their jobs; this in addition to those who in general identify more as Republicans than as Democrats.
It is also worth noting that Donald Trump did not do worse among minority voters than Mitt Romney did in 2012 and Donald Trump did make direct appeals to minority voters during his Presidential campaign. Donald Trump did seem to include people of color as being a legitimate part of the American community as long as they were here legally.
The Trump coalition was indeed big enough to win the 2016 election. Never before was the Alt-Right or Manosphere included as a group of voters to appeal to; indeed the Alt-Right and Manosphere didn’t even exist before 2009. Also never before has the Religious Right been given more power and prestige than what Donald Trump has been bestowing upon them now.
Does this Trump coalition have staying power? I think in general that it does because there is a social conservative revival going on meaning appeals to social conservative instincts will appeal to more and more voters going forward. Social conservatism is the glue that holds the Trump coalition together, a desire to return to the past as far as adherence to religious faith and proper relations between the sexes is concerned.
The Republican Party has made huge gains since the emergence of the Tea Party in 2009. In 2008 when Barack Obama won the Presidential election Republicans held 22 out of 50 governorships, 41 out of 100 members of the Senate, and 178 out of 435 members of the House. Now after the 2016 election Republicans hold 33 governorships, 51 members of the Senate (with 1 Senate race yet to be decided), and 237 members of the House (with 5 House races yet to be decided). And of course, let us not forget, the Presidency itself is back in Republican hands thanks to Donald Trump.
The Tea Party represents the second social conservative backlash, the end of the decline in social indicators, and the Tea Party also heralded a major resurgence of Republican Party power. This process of growing social conservative power I believe is just beginning, that 8 years from now we will probably see something more socially conservative and more high functioning than Donald Trump, that a fourth social conservative backlash is coming.
Tracing a history of the development of social conservatism in politics first there was Barry Goldwater winning the Republican nomination with the help of a lot of grassroots conservative activists like Phyllis Schlafly in 1964. Then there was the successful fight against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) from 1972 to 1977, the activists against the ERA being the beginnings of the Religious Right. Then Ronald Reagan won the Presidency in 1980 with the help of the Moral Majority and the Religious Right. Then in 1994 came the first social conservative backlash with Republicans gaining control of the House of Representatives under the Leadership of Newt Gingrich in the 1994 mid-term elections. This is when the social conservative impulse first was strong enough to affect social indicators positively with crime rates going down and the rate of increase in the out-of-wedlock birth ratio slowing sharply. Then in 2009 came the second social conservative backlash with the emergence of the Tea Party and the following 2010 mid-term elections that saw huge gains for the Republicans. This second social conservative backlash saw the peak in the out-of-wedlock birth ratio (so far) and the beginning of decline in the proportion of married women in the workforce. Also 2009 was the beginning of the Alt-Right and Manosphere as internet phenomenon; communities that would prove to be important bases of support for Trump in 2016. Then there was the election of Donald Trump as President in 2016, what seems to me to represent the third social conservative backlash.
So this is really happening. Republicans have the Presidency and both Houses of Congress. They also have two-thirds of Governorships at the state level. A manosphere type is the President Elect of the United States. The Religious Right is the strongest it has ever been with one of their own as Vice President. Conservative Supreme Court justices are on the way. A new day is dawning in American politics; the reversal of the prior 150 year trend towards ever greater social liberalism is at hand. It is time to start rolling back the clock and Make America Great Again!