In keeping with the runup to the election next year, I will post some views making some sense out of of what is taking place. Infidel takes a look at how Democrats views are being seen as extreme or even more extreme the Republicans by the stances they are taking. People are beginning to see Republicans in a different light.
Infidel753, Political realities and dangerous delusions, Infidel753 Blog
Somebody’s got to say it. The far-left political-activist element in our country is actively harming the cause it seeks to promote — possibly more than it’s helping.
This post may well hurt the feelings of some people I genuinely don’t want to hurt, but problems like this only get worse if everyone refuses to talk about them. I insist on talking about them because I want us to win this year and this issue is posing a threat to that.
I’ve already put a few posts on this blog (and literally hundreds of links in the weekly link round-ups) about how the left and the Democratic party during the last few years have fallen prey to a number of fringe or in some cases flat-out crazy stances which alienate, antagonize, and even frighten mainstream voters. This parallels what the Republicans had done earlier, starting roughly at the time of the 2008 election and culminating in Trumpism. Even though the majority of Democrats don’t hold these stances, they’ve come to define the party in the eyes of many, partly because the radical fringe is so noisy and visible. As a result, by a substantial margin, the voters now consider the Democrats even more extremist and crazy than the Republicans:
A Morning Consult poll in September found that “voters are now more likely to see the Republican Party as capable of governing, tackling big issues and keeping the country safe compared with the Democratic Party.” By a 9-point margin, voters see the Democrats as more ideologically extreme than the Republicans….. the ascendance of white, college-educated liberals has “pushed Democrats far to the dogmatic left, even as their base grows smaller. Young progressives have identified the party with stances on immigration, crime, gender, climate change and Palestinian resistance that are so far from mainstream sentiment that they can even eclipse MAGA extremism.” In other words, the Democrats are focusing on culture-war issues rather than economic issues (e.g., inflation) and taking positions that are anathema to millions of voters.
The quote is from Electoral-Vote, which is good at distinguishing valid polls from bad ones, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen such data.
This is thoroughly alarming, and anyone truly concerned about helping the Democrats do well in this year’s election should be focusing like a laser beam on this problem and what to do about it. Instead, what I’m seeing among a lot of politics bloggers is flat-out reality-denial and a determination to double down on those very attitudes and positions which are driving voters away. Their thoughts run round and round in the same old ruts, unable to process or accept any new or unsettling information no matter what supporting evidence is provided for it, sometimes rejecting it on the basis of nothing more than “I just can’t believe that”. It’s scarily reminiscent of what I saw on Republican forums in 2012, where everybody was constantly reassuring each other that all the polls showing Romney about to lose were “skewed”.
It’s almost a rule of thumb that the side which keeps insisting that the polls are wrong is the side that’s going to lose. Yes, nowadays there are a lot of worthless Republican-leaning push polls, but legitimate polls also show Democrats doing badly this year (and it’s actual election results, not just polls, that show Republicans’ share of the black and Hispanic vote creeping upward over the last few years). This seems astounding given that the opposing party’s presidential candidate is a narcissistic con man who spent his earlier presidency kowtowing to dictators and picking fights with our fellow democracies, incited a violent insurrection when he lost, and now keeps issuing increasingly incoherent statements stirring up hatred and openly threatening to persecute his political opponents if he wins again. If we’re losing to that guy, there is a problem.
(As I’ve said before, polls this far in advance of an election don’t predict the outcome, but the legitimate ones are probably giving us a fairly accurate picture of voter attitudes now.)
Denialism extends beyond the polls. Much of the left’s attitude about the dire economic situation of the “lower 60%” (despite good overall economic growth), and the urban crime explosion which is driving businesses out of our downtowns and prompting millions of liberals to buy guns for self-defense, resembles the right’s attitude about global warming — it’s not happening, and anybody who believes it is a foolish victim of propaganda. I guess we’re just imagining the proliferation of homeless camps, the rents on decent apartments being out of reach for people with normal jobs, the police who can’t respond even to serious crimes because they’re overwhelmed, the wave of employers leaving cities because their employees don’t feel safe, the retailers pulling out because the losses from robbery and vandalism are unsustainable, and all the rest of it. It’s not hard to guess how the voters suffering from these problems feel about this attitude. If I’m getting stung by wasps every time I go out in my backyard, and one party says “we promise to find the wasps’ nest and destroy it” and the other party says “we have all these wonderful statistics and expert opinions proving that the wasps that are stinging you don’t exist”, who am I going to vote for?
(Even those who claim crime is dropping admit that it’s not dropping in the large cities. The reality is probably much worse, since the lack of police response means people likely don’t bother reporting even major crimes in many cases.)
It’s true that a lot of the problems bedeviling the public are the fault of Republican policies in the past, and it would probably be helpful if the Democrats’ messaging emphasized this more. But what voters really want to hear is what the Democrats intend to do about the problems.
The common thread here is a dogged refusal to accept that the left or the Democratic party need to change any of their positions that are alienating voters. It is all about figuring out how to browbeat those stupid voters into accepting that whatever the left is already saying and doing is correct, and that anybody who objects to it is hallucinating imaginary problems, or is just parroting Republican talking points, or is an -ist or a -phobe of some kind. It’s the classic problem of political activists being in “all lecturing, no listening” mode. This is how you lose elections even against repugnant opponents.
There’s a lesson to be learned from Trump’s early success. He won such a devoted following by talking to the right-wing masses about the things they cared about — immigration and cultural change — instead of the stuff like tax cuts and the free market that their “betters” in the right-wing punditocracy thought they should care about. This was largely because Trump was mostly just out for power and had few real deeply-held political views of his own to push, but it still worked. The Democrats need to talk more about what their mainstream left and center-left voters believe and want, and less about what radicals think they should believe and want.
Activists sometimes express frustration that most people are not as engaged with politics as they would like to see, but their own arrogance has to take some of the blame. Last month one blogger I follow wrote a heartfelt and detailed post explaining why she’s sick of politics and intends to stop reading about it or focusing on it, at least for a while. And sure enough, as I had half expected when I read her post, one of these toxic jackasses showed up in her comments with:
“I’m bored, so it’s fine with me if the Nazis take over.” That is what you are really saying.
And these types wonder why normal people are just tuning them out.
Of course, there are also plenty of right-wing activists with analogous issues of reality-denial and arrogance, but they don’t seem to do the Republicans as a whole so much damage, probably because they’re not as good at attracting the attention of mainstream voters outside their own radical circles. In any case, I’m more worried about the situation on the left, because overall the Democrats are still much better for the country than the Republicans are — I want them to win (and especially want to avoid Trump becoming president again), so I’m concerned about anything that works against that goal.
Experienced politicians, of course, have a better sense of how to handle themselves. As the election approaches, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more messaging that addresses what the voters want, as opposed to what somebody thinks they should want. Biden has already shown signs of getting tougher on border security (an issue which has long hurt the Democrats with mainstream voters) even if he’s partly motivated by the need to reach a deal on Ukraine aid. The abortion fight will give the Democrats a powerful boost, as it has in elections since Dobbs (though someday the Republicans may well figure out a way to stop shooting themselves in the foot on that issue, difficult though that will be). The economy will probably continue to improve next year, and Democrats may become bold enough to adopt a more aggressive redistributionist agenda that will really help that “lower 60%”.
But I’d feel a lot better about our chances if the progressive wing, which has such a high profile in the eyes of voters, would stop telling me the wasps don’t exist.