“The Left Still Doesn’t Understand Trump’s Appeal:” 2020 should have been a “lay-up” election, as I’ve heard it phrased—but it wasn’t, and it would be useful to more carefully ask why it wasn’t. Moreover, “‘The joke is that the GOP is really assembling the multiracial working-class coalition that the left has always dreamed of,’ says David Shor, a Democratic polling and data expert who developed the Obama 2012 campaign’s internal election-forecasting system.” Democrats seem to have become reliant on a highly educated elite group, who make a lot of noise in the media and academia but who may not be terribly popular more broadly. As norms between those two groups grow, whose preferences are going to be foregrounded?
Matt Yglesias has a new blog, Slow Boring, and in its inaugural post he writes: “The practical rhetorical function of that choice [to make racist statements], however, was the anathematize the idea of trying to cater to their cultural attitudes at all even though whatever you want to say about those attitudes they were compatible with voting twice for a Black president.” He also says, “The truth is Democrats have started burrowing-in on a very particular style of politics that simply has a limited range of appeal.”
The structure of the United States is biased in favor of certain residents of relatively small states and while those biases are bogus, barring some unlikely changes to the Constitution (I favor those changes), they’re here and need to be acknowledged and dealt with by political parties that want to win elections—even elections unfairly stacked against them. Yglesias says, “The reality is that most people, most of the time, mostly don’t care whether the stuff they read about politics is true or if the ideas they advocate for actually work,” and that’s a good way of describing a version of what I’m trying to do here, and learning how something works is key to making it work better—or to working it better.
Megan McArdle writes, “The ‘highly educated elites’ are stuck in a nightmare of their own making.” The word “internet” doesn’t appear in her column, but that’s what it’s really about: the Internet makes talking back to authority (“highly educated elites”) easy, and it makes pointing out hypocrisy both easy and, often, viral. Not all allegations of hypocrisy or bad behavior are true, but some are, and, if you make enough casual claims on Twitter, some of them will likely turn out to contradict each other. The “highly education elites’s” views on race as the most salient feature of “diversity” may also not map onto normal people’s views: it may instead be that “Liberals Envisioned a Multiracial Coalition. Voters of Color Had Other Ideas: Democrats may need to rethink their strategy as the class complexities and competing desires of Latino and Asian-American demographic groups become clear.” The gap between media/academic discourse on this subject and how normal people seem to view it seems very wide, and it seems like a gap that doesn’t get a lot of play in the media or academia—perhaps because we’re all caught in our own little bubbles. To be sure, something is broken in the Republican party, and that brokenness should be acknowledged, liken a broken bone should, but if the left can’t get away from unpopular (and borderline racist) identity politics, that’s going to reinforce the problems on the right.
It would be very nice if the alternate, fact-free world facilitated by parts of cable news and talk radio didn’t have an audience, but for whatever reason they do. If we’re lucky, it turns out that Trump is the biggest problem, and the right will feel itself forced back towards a reality-based universe. If we’re unlucky, Trump really is the symptom, not the problem.
Overall, trying to learn more is good, and elections are also information machines.