For a century now, Republicans have confused being the party of plutocrats with being the party of prosperity. Thus Mitt Romney.
To win back the so-called 47 percent—an insulting description Romney doubled down after the election when he blamed his loss on Obama’s “gifts”—Republican might look farther back, past Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover to their first president, Abraham Lincoln.
Not only did he spring from the ranks of the plebeian, not the preps, but—as Michael Lind points out in What Lincoln Believed—he aimed to both increase opportunity and expand national power. A corporate attorney, he backed railroad interests and their expansion, which paced the nation’s economic ascendancy, but saw this as part of creating greater opportunity, particularly in the West, for the country’s middle and working classes. He also enacted the Homestead Act, which supplied aspiring settlers with a gift: 160 acres of federal land.