Saturday, December 24, 2016

When In Doubt, Blame Obama, Con't

Political strategist Charlie Cook has some brutal words for Dems: better win over white Christian heartland voters or else, because they're literally the only voting demographic that matters now.

Simply put, Demo­crats need to ex­pand their sens­it­iv­ity-train­ing courses to in­clude people who live in small-town and rur­al Amer­ica—middle-class white voters, people who live paycheck to paycheck, and whites who at­tend church at least once a week. Frank­lin Roosevelt’s New Deal co­ali­tion of voters is now of­fi­cially dead. Demo­crats were los­ing these voters be­fore Don­ald Trump came along and will con­tin­ue to do so bey­ond his pres­id­ency un­less they show genu­ine con­cern for these con­stitu­en­cies. To be sure, the coun­try is chan­ging and be­com­ing more di­verse, but it is not do­ing so at the same pace every­where. Demo­crats are run­ning up the score in places that do not help them win ma­jor­it­ies in the House, Sen­ate, and Elect­or­al Col­lege.

An ana­lys­is by Tyler Fish­er and Alyson Hurt for NPR found that Trump won 70.6 per­cent of the vote from rur­al counties and places with pop­u­la­tions un­der 2,500 that were not near metro areas, com­pared to 25.1 per­cent for Clin­ton. Trump won 66.1 per­cent of the vote in small counties that were near metro areas (Clin­ton 30.1 per­cent), 65.8 per­cent in counties with pop­u­la­tions between 2,500 and 19,999 not near metro areas (Clin­ton 29.4 per­cent), and 66.3 per­cent in sim­il­arly-sized counties near metro areas (Clin­ton 29.5 per­cent).

While many Demo­crats and journ­al­ists are busy read­ing Hill­billy Elegy: A Mem­oir of a Fam­ily and Cul­ture in Crisis (I per­son­ally find the title of­fens­ive), far more can be learned from The Polit­ics of Re­sent­ment by Uni­versity of Wis­con­sin polit­ic­al sci­ence pro­fess­or Kath­er­ine Cramer. It is the product of nine years of in­ter­view­ing rur­al Wis­con­sin voters to learn about their anxi­ety, fears, and re­sent­ment of urb­an Amer­ica and its elites.

If any Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate in mod­ern his­tory should have done badly with white church­go­ers, it was Don­ald Trump. And yet, exit polls show that Trump car­ried the 26 per­cent of the white elect­or­ate who con­sider them­selves evan­gel­ic­al or born-again voters by a 65-point mar­gin, 81 to 16 per­cent. Among the 33 per­cent of voters of all races who at­tend church at least once a week, Trump won by 16 points, 56 to 40 per­cent, and among those who go at least monthly, Trump won by 12 points, 54 to 42 per­cent. Demo­crats can take solace in win­ning people who say they nev­er go to church by 31 points, 62 to 31 per­cent, but they will be dis­tressed to learn that this group makes up just 22 per­cent of the elect­or­ate.

Demo­crats wor­ried about their poor show­ing among church­go­ers would be well-ad­vised to read God’s Polit­ics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It by So­journ­ers pres­id­ent Jim Wal­lis, whom I would describe as a lib­er­al evan­gel­ic­al. Wal­lis ar­gues that con­ser­vat­ives have no corner on re­li­gion in gen­er­al or Chris­tian­ity in par­tic­u­lar, but that Demo­crats are in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a sec­u­lar party while Re­pub­lic­ans are be­com­ing the party of people of faith.

In short, Demo­crats need to get over Don­ald Trump and the spe­cif­ics of what happened in 2016 and be­gin to think about how, in their rush in­to Amer­ica’s fu­ture, they left be­hind a large num­ber of voters who are still very much here, right now. To ma­lign these people as big­ots, ra­cists, and miso­gyn­ists ig­nores the fact that some ac­tu­ally voted for Pres­id­ent Obama at least once, have voted for wo­men in pre­vi­ous elec­tions, or have voted for Demo­crats in the not-so-dis­tant past.

It's complete nonsense, of course.  There's no "getting over" a candidate that ran on making people of color into second-class citizens (or non-citizens in the case of Muslim Americans.)  The stupidity of "they voted for Obama once can't make them racists" is manifest in this piece, and it's precisely because of the soft racism in so many of these voters who thought Barack Obama was "one of the good ones" that allowed Trump to win.

Most of all Cook is expecting the voters most loyal to the Democrats now to be the least vocal in efforts to court the people who have already demonstrated they are the most easily swayed by white identity politics enough to abandon the Dems when a vicious demagogue like Trump rolls up.

Again, this advice is disastrous.  Dems need to stick with the people loyal to the party.  As for the rest, well, another economic crisis precipitated by Trump and his goons should open America's eyes. I only hope it won't be too late by then.

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