Today at The Federalist, Willis L. Krumholz explains what happened in an excellent article that's important for understanding where the GOP needs to be "going forward," as people say now:
Matt Bevin’s loss doesn’t have anything to do with Trump, and it’s not about ‘conservatives’ versus ‘moderates,’ either. Conservatism embodies middle-class and working-class values. Why not embrace that?
Here's a brief excerpt from the much longer, but very readable, article:
Was Bevin problematic because he was too Trumpian? Not at all. Bevin “governed as a classic libertarian chamber of commerce type Republican.” In Enjeti’s words he was a “typical slash and burn corporatist governor in a solidly white working class state.” According to Enjeti, Bevin had actually “betrayed [working class voters] and the Trump agenda.” That’s because “Simply putting on a MAGA hat and yelling Drain the Swamp isn’t enough, you actually have to walk the walk.”
Even Bevin’s rhetoric was consistently disconnected from working-class concerns. In one example, Bevin made a video trying to tie his Democrat opponent to Bernie Sanders, who was visiting the state. The video comes off like he made it because his consultants told him to.
Bevin also sounds like Mitt Romney, talking about the virtues of the job creators as opposed to the people who work to “varying degrees” and want free stuff. “The American dream is a real thing if we the people take it seriously,” he said. He never focused on what conservativism could do for working people.
A lot of Bevin’s policies weren’t bad. For example, he fought hard to restrict abortion in the state. But he dogmatically pursued Republican Party and supply-side orthodoxy above pragmatism. In one example, he wanted Kentucky to raise its sales taxes and cut income taxes, which would disproportionately affect the poor and working class. He also repeatedly advocated for zeroing out Kentucky’s corporate tax, and had previously called for a 10 percent federal corporate tax and an end to minimum wage laws.
To top it off, Bevin was rough around the edges. One of his signature policy moves was to cut Kentucky’s hugely underwater teacher pensions to make them more sustainable. When teachers went on strike in response, he blamed the striking teachers for the shooting death of a nine-year-old girl, rather than taking on the unions directly like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, did quite successfully.
He also said that children staying at home due to the strikes would face sexual abuse: “Children were harmed—some physically, some sexually, some were introduced to drugs for the first time—because they were vulnerable and left alone.” In another example, Bevin once said he was surprised there was a chess club in a majority-black school located in a poor area.
Given the working-class family is completely broken, and median American wages have been roughly flat for about 30 years, Trump’s emergence isn’t shocking. What’s shocking is how few Republican politicians get what’s going on.
Here’s to hoping the Republican Party of the future is a lot more like Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley—another conservative with a working-class focus—and DeSantis. Any future conservative party must be nationalist, espouse Middle Class Capitalism, and pursue policies that will actually help families. The alternative is the dustbin of history.