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The Rise of the Republican Class Warrior


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Common Sense With Bari Weiss

How the GOP ditched trickle-down economics and embraced populism.

Peter Savodnik

Nov. 11 2021

Blake Masters is a Republican Senate candidate in Arizona backed by billionaire PayPal founder Peter Thiel. Until recently, his signature issue would have been free trade or privatizing Social Security. Instead, it’s his belief that a family should be able to get by on one income.  

In his most recent ad, the 35-year-old former venture capitalist, standing in a field of sudan hay, says, “We used to be able to do this. Something happened—globalization, decades of inflation. Can’t really do it anymore.” Our biggest problems, Masters says in his launch video, include corporations that “think they’re bigger than America.”

It’s an argument—Corporate America is killing the little guy! The free market is rigged!—that old-fashioned liberals, people like Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis and, more recently, Bernie Sanders, used to make. Now, it’s the rallying cry of a new species of Republican. 

Call them national conservatives. Or populists. Or Thielists. The Silicon Valley titan, who backed Trump in 2016, has given $10 million to super PACs supporting Masters and J.D. Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy” who is running for the Senate in Ohio. He is supporting Republicans challenging GOP members who voted for Trump’s impeachment—including Harriet Hageman, who is running against Rep. Liz Cheney in Wyoming, and Joe Kent, who is trying to knock off Rep. Jaime Herrera in Washington—and he has donated to Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, who’s on the short list of 2024 Republican presidential contenders.


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