The past week or so has brought a never-ending stream of
gaslighting good advice from helpful conservatives who want Democrats to understand better how they can win in November.
Central to that advice has been to respect the people who voted for Trump. Or, conversely, Democrats have been attacked as coastal elitists who look down on the mid-Americans who are the salt of the earth.
Blessings on Paul Waldman.
But the mistake is to ignore where the belief in Democratic disrespect actually comes from and to assume that Democrats have it in their power to banish it.
It doesn’t come from the policies advocated by the Democratic Party, and it doesn’t come from the things Democratic politicians say. Where does it come from? An entire industry that’s devoted to convincing white people that liberal elitists look down on them.
It’s more than an industry, actually; it’s an industry, plus a political movement. The right has a gigantic media apparatus that is devoted to convincing people that liberals disrespect them, plus a political party whose leaders all understand that that idea is key to their political project and so join in the chorus at every opportunity.
He goes into detail on the respect shown white working class voters by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as opposed to the repetition of a very few slips on their part by that gigantic media apparatus.
In the world Republicans have constructed, a Democrat who wants to give you health care and a higher wage is disrespectful, while a Republican who opposes those things but engages in a vigorous round of campaign race-baiting is respectful. The person who’s holding you back isn’t the politician who just voted to give a trillion-dollar tax break to the wealthy and corporations, it’s an East Coast college professor who said something condescending on Twitter.
So what are Democrats to do? The answer is simple: This is a game they cannot win, so they have to stop playing. Know at the outset that no matter what you say or do, Republicans will cry that you’re disrespecting good heartland voters. There is no bit of PR razzle-dazzle that will stop them. Remember that white Republicans are not going to vote for you anyway, and their votes are no more valuable or virtuous than the votes of any other American. Don’t try to come up with photo ops showing you genuflecting before the totems of the white working class, because that won’t work. Advocate for what you believe in, and explain why it actually helps people.
Finally — and this is critical — never stop telling voters how Republicans are screwing them over. The two successful Democratic presidents of recent years were both called liberal elitists, and they countered by relentlessly hammering the GOP over its advocacy for the wealthy. And it worked.
As they say, read the whole thing.
Edited to bold the most important sentence.