Democrats: Imagine Winning Urban, Suburban, and Rural voters

Adam Taylor

Adam Taylor

Adam Taylor is a native Texan, centrist life-long Democrat, and among other things, creator of the simulation fantasy baseball site No-Lyfe Fantasy Sports. He also likes to think he has valid opinions on a wide range of topics. He doesn't tweet much, but is on Twitter.

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130 Responses

  1. Avatar Chad
    Ignored
    says:

    How is this true for poor rural communities in way that isn’t true for poor urban communities?Report

    • Adam Taylor Adam Taylor in reply to Chad
      Ignored
      says:

      First, to note, this critique is more on the national party right now than the local level leaders. But the national party gets the lion’s share of media attention, so that’s who needs to take note.

      The lesson is true for both, it is just more severely pronounced with rural communities. In the case of poor urban communities, Democrats currently have the benefit of perceptions. Perception as the civil rights party and perception that the Republican party has the racists. (And note, I said perception)

      This becomes self-reinforcing with a large portion of their base, such that people are more willing to believe Democrats are listening and understanding, even when the listening skills could be better. The same can be said about Republicans and rural voters.

      The reason this point is salient is that today, Democrats realize they have a problem with rural voters. If this plan were implemented, it would set habits that will spill over to all constituents, urban and suburban as well. And those habits need to be set. The perception will not last forever. Trumps gains with non-whites in Texas and Florida show that if they feel heard by someone else, they will shift their allegience. And by they, I mean everyone.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chad
      Ignored
      says:

      To be honest, I think that the Republicans (or Trump, anyway) got more votes in poor urban communities by using the one weird trick of “just trying to reach out, just a little bit”.

      I think that if he actually put effort into reaching out, he might have gotten even more.Report

  2. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    Listening requires that someone speak.

    Speaking requires formulating a message, then delivering it.

    What message do rural people have, such that someone can listen to it?Report

    • Adam Taylor Adam Taylor in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      Speaking does not require formulating a message. However, regardless of quality of content, feeling like you’ve been heard forms bonds and you are more likely to gain someone’s vote that way.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Adam Taylor
        Ignored
        says:

        I think you’re not giving rural people credit or agency as adult citizens of a republican democracy.

        This theory, that “if only we listened to them they would vote for us”, treats them as entirely reactive.
        It also assumes that their concerns are not traditional policy-based concerns, but emotional, cultural tribal sorts of concerns, the type where they “feel” like they and their culture are accepted and embraced.

        Here’s my countertheory: That rural people eagerly voice their cultural concerns, and the Democratic Party hears them clearly and accurately.
        And they for their part hear the cultural concerns of the Democratic Party, clearly and accurately.

        Both sides completely and clearly understand each other. But their cultural values and priorities are binary and exclusive, without an overlap.

        Now my theory can be disproven, but it would require that someone actually articulate a message that can satisfy both camps. Right now all we have is a theory that suggests such a message might exist.Report

        • Avatar Swami in reply to Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          I agree for the most part. The issue is that their values, views and contexts are greatly opposed to each other.

          I keep bringing up Evangelicals, but that is just the extreme. They are not buying what the left is selling and a conversation isn’t going to change that. A dialogue between the far left and the Evangelical right isn’t going to go well for any woke left wing politician. She will either have the crowd turn on her, or she will alienate her base by even pretending to take their positions seriously.

          I agree with your theory. No message satisfies both camps.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      What message do rural people have, such that someone can listen to it?

      If you were listening, you might have heard it. Those folks aren’t just screaming into the night or simply reminiscing about the good ol’ days when colored folks knew their place. You’ve so convinced yourself that they have but one thing to say…Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        They want middle class economic prosperity.
        They want their kids to stay with them and not flee to the cities.
        They want to hunt and fish and own guns.
        They don’t want to be confronted on their racist failures.
        The don’t want to be confronted on their misogyny.

        But most of all they want to be respected and sought after by politicians they way they think they used to be. They want to be the deciders on what hap[pens in America.Report

        • Avatar Swami in reply to Philip H
          Ignored
          says:

          Had to laugh. This reminds me of JoJo Rabbit’s encyclopedia on Jews.

          “They don’t want to be confronted on their racist failures.
          The don’t want to be confronted on their misogyny.”

          Yeah, what rural voters really want is to be “respected” by people who see them as women-hating bigots. Sounds like their vote is as good as yours.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh, you’ve heard it?
        Great!

        Please, articulate what the message is, write it in words so we can all hear it.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          Some of it is as simple as phrasing things properly, believe it or not.

          Like, the difference between these two sentences:

          “We all need to work together because we have a common threat and only with coordinated action can we all achieve our goals”

          and

          “You need to work with us on this because we have a common threat and only if you coordinate with us can we achieve our goals”

          Do you see how those two statements have tonal differences that makes one more attractive than the other?

          If you can’t, that’s cool, but my fundamental assumptions rest on being able to tell the difference between those two sentences.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Oh, so it isn’t that ruralia has a message of its own?

            They are merely reactive to our message and so if we change our message, they will react accordingly?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
              Ignored
              says:

              I’m going to get there, Chip. But it’s very important to me that you can tell the difference between those two sentences *AND* that you can agree that A is better than B.

              If you can’t do both of those things, I’m afraid that you’ve got deaf ears and will be unable to hear any message I’m trying to give you.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, after deep profound thought, and consulting with elders of my order, I believe I am able to grasp this esoteric concept.

                Now, may I snatch the pebble from your hand?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Okay, one of the problems that Democrats have had in recent years is talking to people in ruralia with phrasings like B rather than phrasings like A.

                More than that, they argue that phrasings like B aren’t a problem because it’s better to say B rather than ~B.

                The argument isn’t over whether A is better than B, but whether B is better than ~B and only someone dishonest would argue ~B.

                When, really, the argument is that the politicians need to say A instead of B.

                Now maybe there are only but so many options that are realistically on the table and we are going to have to go through one of those options like it or not and doing it tomorrow might defer the pain by a day but it’ll hurt more tomorrow than if we do it today…

                But if the phrasing is like B, you won’t get collaboration. At best you’ll get non-compliance. At worst you’ll get defection.

                The choice to phrase like B instead of like A will kick the can down the road and make things worse.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                So… it isn’t that ruralia has a message of its own?

                They are merely reactive to our message and so if we change our message, they will react accordingly?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Please understand that it’s more of a slider than a toggle.

                There are three groups of voters.

                The people who, if they vote at all, will vote for your guy.

                The people who, if they vote at all, will vote for the other guy.

                The people who could be persuaded for either guy, depending on which message they find to be more persuasive.

                Now, one thing that happens a lot is that people deny that Group 3 exists. They’ll tend to focus on Group 1 like a laser and say “But you already agreed that people in Group 1 will never vote for me.”

                So think of it as “how can we move this voting group from 47-53 in their favor to 51-49 in our favor”.

                Pointing at the 49 who will still voted for the other guy and saying “we don’t have to worry about ruralia if they still have almost half their population willing to vote for morally bad people!”, is a good way to stay 47-53.

                So the question is… do you *WANT* to win those four people?

                Because, if you don’t, that’s a message too. It’s one that those four will hear loud and clear.

                As will the 49.

                Hell, the members of Group 1 in that area will hear it as well. It might even depress them.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                So, you’re saying that if the Democrats change their message, ruralia will react accordingly?

                This shouldn’t be a difficult question should it?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                So, you’re saying

                Hoo, boy. This is rarely a good start.

                So, you’re saying that if the Democrats change their message, ruralia will react accordingly?

                So I am saying that Semiotics exist and they are readable.

                If you don’t know what Semiotics are, you can read a wiki page about them here.

                “So you’re saying that semiotics exist?”
                “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.”
                “And that more signals are given than merely those written in any given piece of text?”
                “Yes, nailed it. That is what I am saying.”
                “And you’re saying that the Democrats have shot themselves in the foot with their semiotics with regards to ruralia?”
                “Oh, I’m so glad we’re having this conversation! YES! THAT IS WHAT I AM SAYING!”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                So this just leads me back to my original point, that this treats the residents of ruralia as reactive agents.

                OK so lets say that this is true, that the Democrats need to find a new message.

                But now here comes the hard question, which I have been asking for four years straight:

                What is the suggested message which should be given?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                RE: What is the suggested message which should be given?

                1) You’re not racist for behaving the same way that Team Blue gives a pass to Team Blue.
                2) We won’t make you pay for what your ancestors did.
                3) We’re for gun rights.
                4) We’ll make “Affirmative Action” apply to you favorability, not unfavorably (i.e. make it based off of your lack of money and not your skin color).
                5) We won’t shut down rural jobs in the name of the environment.
                6) We won’t shut down rural jobs in the name of “inequality” (i.e. pass min wage laws designed to increase outside of urban costs).
                7) We will fund activities that favor lack of population density (i.e. build roads).
                8) We will pipe the economic booms which are concentrated on the coasts to the interior.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                OK this is a start!

                1) and 2) These sound difficult to put into policy, so its hard for me to wrap my head around what this would be. Am I correct in thinking this would translate more into “Cultural signalling” rather than any law that Congress can pass?

                3) So no gun control; Well, that’s kinda a deeply held value among most Democrats. But its definitely policy-centric, so a compromise could probably be found.

                4)Again, policy-centric, but kinda a nonstarter, because it really means “Poor white people and poor black people are starting from the same point”. The bulk of Democrats simply don’t hold this statement to be true.

                5) and 6) likewise mean “No protection for the environment” and “No more unions or minimum wages”. These are pretty important to Democrats!

                7) YES, the Democrats love them some being gummint infrastructure projects!

                8) I honestly don’t know what this means, but it sounds intriguing.

                Overall though, what you seem to be asking is that the Democrats adopt a lot of the cultural values of the Republicans, and in addition we need to jettison a lot of the firmly held policy convictions that define us.

                Which sort of supports my contention that there really isn’t much room for any sort of compromise here.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                1) and 2) These sound difficult to put into policy, so its hard for me to wrap my head around what this would be. Am I correct in thinking this would translate more into “Cultural signalling” rather than any law that Congress can pass?

                It’s easier to give examples which are opposed to this. Forced school desegregation (Blue states have the same issue but aren’t accused of racism when they do it).

                So no gun control;

                Or you could compromise. That doesn’t mean “march to full disarmament just more slowly”. That means “have tests and sunsets in laws so they go away if (when) they don’t work”, and trade things the pro-gun groups want like cross state CC certification.

                Gun control hits the radar as gun-ignorant politicians virtue signalling with cram downs on rural voters who don’t have gun problems. Saying that it’s important that you do this is more than a messaging problem.

                4)Again, policy-centric, but kinda a nonstarter, because it really means “Poor white people and poor black people are starting from the same point”. The bulk of Democrats simply don’t hold this statement to be true.

                Your desired alternative is apparently having Obama’s kids count as “disadvantaged” compared to poor whites and call them racist if they object to that reasoning. You could STILL put non-skin color filters on this like “single parent” and focus this on people who are actually disadvantaged.

                5) and 6) likewise mean “No protection for the environment” and “No more unions or minimum wages”. These are pretty important to Democrats!

                You’re presenting this as a binary thing. A federal min wage law can’t include regional cost of living adjustments and MUST be based on New York? If that’s the case, then the purpose of the law is to destroy rural jobs.

                8) I honestly don’t know what this means, but it sounds intriguing.

                It does, but I don’t have good ideas for making it happen.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                (Blue states have the same issue but aren’t accused of racism when they do it).

                I’m old enough to remember Boston.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                8) We will pipe the economic booms which are concentrated on the coasts to the interior.

                This is hard. I’ve lived along the Colorado Front Range (~900 miles from any coast) for 30-some years now and watched it grow. We’ve pulled (and are still pulling) our share of the coastal booms, but only to the 120-mile long and 20-mile wide urban corridor. Rural Colorado hates us.

                No one has any idea how to shift any of it even 60 miles out onto the plains. Consider the case of Vestas, which picked the Front Range for their North American wind turbine production facility. Pueblo (south end of the corridor) had a steel mill and 500 people experienced with shaping large steel. Brighton had space right on the rail lines for building huge turbine blades and 1,000 workers. Metro Denver had companies that could design and build the sub-components that go into a 3 MW nacelle.

                During my tech career, one of the things I couldn’t avoid noticing was that an engineer earning $100k wanted — among many other things — a gifted/talented track in the school for his/her kids, medical specialists, a choice of orthodontists, a lawyer who could advise them on intellectual property issues, bicycle trails, and on, and on. I don’t know how to put that in Yuma. You don’t know how to put that in Yuma. (If you do, get in touch, because we can get rich.)

                I did my high school and undergraduate time in Nebraska and still have family there. After the next census, well over 50% of the population will live in three counties comprising: Omaha, Lincoln, and Omaha’s south side suburbs. They’re all booming. No one has figured out how to pass it on to the rest of the state.Report

              • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Michael Cain
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                says:

                The World Bank has U.S. urban population at 82.5%, and rising (https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.URB.TOTL.IN.ZS?locations=US). I don’t know what critical mass is for an area to consider itself viable, but it seems like 17% of the population (and shrinking) is likely at or below that number.

                There’s a lot of scoffing in this country about railroads, but fast rail transport could be an avenue to rural revitalization. Or, as James Fallows wrote, reimagining air travel away from hub and spoke could do the same.

                What isn’t talked about is what happens to the “natives” when an area gets repopulated. I imagine it’s kind of like gentrification.

                We can’t cast rural America in Wendell Berryian amber. The times they are a changin.Report

              • Avatar Andy in reply to Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m a Colorado native too – born and raised in the Denver area and recently returned after a 25-year absence.

                I don’t know if you feel the same way, but our state government is quite a contrast (in a positive way) from most other states and especially the feds.

                My current job has been remote from the beginning, so I could really work and live anywhere. We live where we do (right next to Monument) primarily for the schools (3 school-age kids) and due to the fact I need to be here to care for my sister, who suffers from dementia.

                I think one of the silver linings of Covid may be that remote work becomes more normalized which opens up possibilities for people to diversify where they live. Absent kids, the calculus would likely boil down to amenities and cost-of-living. I wouldn’t expect to see people flee the front range necessarily, but more growth in rural areas near urban cores seems possible.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Chip, the residents of ruralia are not unique in being reactive agents and it misunderstands the various dynamics at play to define them as such.

                It’d be like saying “So the people in Ruralia need 2000 calories per day.”

                Um. Yes. People in Ruralia need about 2000 calories per day. Some need more than that. Some need a little less. Children have different numbers too. And we’re talking calories instead of nutrition and we should talk about nutrition as well or we’re leaving a lot of stuff out. But, yeah, people in ruralia need to eat lest they die.

                But, and here’s the point, it’s not particularly interesting to point out that the people in ruralia need to eat as if they are unique in needing to eat.

                “OK so lets say that this is true, that the Democrats need to find a new message.”

                I’m not saying that they need to find a new message.

                Hell, I’m still stuck on the whole thing that I thought we had established:

                There is a difference between statements A and B and statement A is better than statement B.

                So any message you give needs to be given with the tone of statement A rather than the tone of statement B.

                AND THAT DOESN’T INVOLVE CHANGING THE MESSAGE AT ALL. IT INVOLVES CHANGING THE TONE.

                “So you’re saying that the only thing that is needed is a change in semiotics?”

                “Uh… well, I don’t know why you put the word ‘only’ in there. I think that this is kind of indicative of the disconnect, really. But, yes. One of the important things that is achievable and can be done is a change in semiotics, yes.”Report

              • Avatar Andy in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t think the problem is just messaging, there are real policy differences.

                But on messaging the first thing I would recommend is to not insult potential voters. A non-trivial number of Democrats really do seem to believe that rural white voters are dumb, evil, racist misogynists who don’t understand their own interests and these Democrats are not afraid to say so out loud.

                As a practical matter, it’s just difficult to get people to vote for you or your side when a vocal and active part of your party says stuff like this or doesn’t challenge it when others say it.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Andy
                Ignored
                says:

                There is a disconnect here. Very few D pols insult rural voters. Sure you can find examples but very few covers it. Liberal tweeters or very online types do that. But the to obvious thing to mention is that there is a steady stream of vitriol from the right even R pols. Looking at just one side of nasty arguement never gets anywhere. There are to many people in media/internet who make their money as culture warrior demagogues. The more hate, the more money. That is the primary cause of the division between parties. Sure there are real policy disputes but those seem much less salient then self branding and click bait warriors.Report

              • Avatar Andy in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, D pols rarely directly insult rural voters and those that do tend to be in safe, dark-blue, non-rural areas. But neither do most pols push back against these characterizations.

                John Tester has some good advice on this I think:

                https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/16/us/politics/jon-tester-democrats.htmlReport

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Andy
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                says:

                Tester always seemed good from what i’ve seen. Local/state D’s seem to do their best to push back and not play into the stereotypes of D’s. They aren’t always good at it, but they try.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                So this just leads me back to my original point, that this treats the residents of ruralia as reactive agents.

                Chip, you’re pointing out that the residents of ruralia are reactive agents is approximately as interesting as pointing out that they need to eat, lest they die.

                This is a universal trait. Pointing it out as if it’s somehow not true because you don’t like it or you think that I should not like it or that other people out there wouldn’t like it does not make it stop being true.

                OK so lets say that this is true, that the Democrats need to find a new message.

                Chip, let me go back to the thing we discussed up top.

                You said that you could grasp the difference between my statements A and B. I am saying that the foundational message in A and B is pretty similar.

                What is different is the *TONE*.

                And you keep saying “oh, they need to change their message” and I am saying “NO THEY NEED TO CHANGE THEIR TONE”.

                When it comes to individual parts of their message, there might be planks in the platform that they turn up from a 3 to a 7, others that they turn from a 9 to a 1.

                “So you’re saying they need to change their message?”

                “No. I am not saying that they need to change their message. They need to better understand how to emphasize the parts of their message that are important to their constituency and they need to change their tone. Not their message. Their tone.”

                “So you’re saying they need to change their message!”

                “No. I am not saying that. I am saying that they need to change their tone. There are parts of their message that are true and need to be heard but they won’t be heard if they use an inappropriate tone.”

                “So you’re saying their message is inappropriate.”

                “No, I’m saying their tone is inappropriate.”

                “So you’re saying you’re the chief of the tone police.”

                “No, I am trying to explain that it is possible to turn a 47-53 district into a 51-49 district if you are willing to do a better job with your semiotics.”

                “So you’re saying that they need a different message entirely! WHAT MESSAGE SHOULD THEY GIVE?”

                How about “We don’t know how to listen to people who don’t agree with us on everything”?

                “Why would that help?”

                “Because honesty, at least, would be a refreshing semiotic change.”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You really think there is a 4 point possible swing based on tone?

                I mean, look at Swami and Dark’s lists; Guns, abortion, gays, affirmative action.

                You would agree that there doesn’t exist a tonal change that would overcome any of those, right? Like, nobody is going to say “Abortion is murder, but that Jon Ossof sure is a folksy friendly guy who really gets us rural folks!”

                So we need a swing voter who would respond to a new Democratic tone, but doesn’t see the Democratic message on those issues to be a dealbreaker.

                I think the number of such candidates to be vanishingly small.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t know. I just look at stuff like 2008, 2012, and 2016.

                I think that tone is one of those things that, if changed, will provide benefits RIGHT NOW that don’t require changing the message.

                When it comes to Guns, Abortion, Gays, and Affirmative Action, yeah. I think that there are things that could be turned down from a 9 to a 1 while other, more important, things could be raised from a 3 to a 7.

                Oh, and changes in tone, of course.

                You want a good abortion message? Here’s one:

                Pete Buttigieg. Golly! It’s a good message. And, get this, it’s a decent tone.

                It’s actually possible to keep the message but change the tone and not change the message.

                This shit is possible. Sometimes even attainable.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                RE: I think the number of such candidates to be vanishingly small.

                You’re not wrong… but if he’s one out of a hundred than that’s 2 points.

                The West Wing had a show where the First Lady was told if she wore a red dress the election would shift by some tiny percentage. She did the math and decided it was worth it.

                Having said that, I’m not sure this is a thing. Everyone does and says stupid things sometimes. Intuitively it seems like tiny shifts in large populations could do a lot, but we might be looking at people who putting a bigger microscope on the side they don’t like and are looking for a reason to justify what they want to do.Report

  3. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    This is a perpetual pundit dream of professional and armchair pundits and I do not think it is that simple or easy. Democrats support lots of policies that should help rural areas survive and thrive like continued postal service (because FedEx and UPS will not deliver to a lot of rural areas because of cost-benefit analysis) and rural broadband.

    https://energycommerce.house.gov/newsroom/press-releases/pallone-clyburn-and-10-house-dems-announce-plan-to-connect-all-americans-to

    What Democrats can’t do for rural areas is prevent brain drain of the best and the brightest (especially if the best and the brightest was tired of being bullied and harassed all the time for being LBGT or whatnot) and Democrats cannot turn back the clock and bring back the various light to medium sized industrial jobs that sustained rural America in the United States. The Democrats can also not abandon their commitment to equal rights and social equality for minority groups.

    On some level, I do get the appeal of wanting things to be about “class, not race” or “class, not sexuality/gender/ethnicity”, etc. But I think there is a large component of psychological denial in this because dealing with things on purely material/economic levels is a hell of a lot easier than dealing with social/cultural divides. So it seems like wanting to swipe everything under the rug that is uncomfortable and perhaps impossible to deal with, or at least very hard and awkward and painful to deal with.

    My experience with rural politics is that rural resentment is very real. They still hark back to the Jeffersonian tradition and distrust of cities. They also still seem to think that they are economically dominant when they are not. Rural America survives because of urban money, not the other way around but if you go to upstate New York or Eastern Washington, they will insist that they are the ones propping up “those people” in NYC and Seattle.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      It’s interesting how the word “resentment” is used almost exclusively to talk about white Republicans. I don’t see it used in discussions of people who resent having to pay back their student loans. Nobody uses it to describe welfare recipients who resent not being given more. I’ve never seen the way Clinton voters feel about Trump voters described as resentment. While I’ve heard quite a lot about “racial resentment” (note that this is an intentional misnomer) felt by white people, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the deep resentment towards white people expressed by Social Justice (sic) ideologues described as such.

      Is “resentment” just a boo word that comes with an implied “misguided?” Is righteous resentment a thing, or is the word simply not used that way?Report

  4. Avatar Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    The only truth here is my TL:DR on politics in America – Republicans come with emotion laden lies, Democrats come with bar graphs and pie charts full of truth. Politics isn’t rational. Economic isn’t rational. You can’t plan your way out of a hurt ego or bruised heart.Report

    • Avatar Swami in reply to Philip H
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      says:

      It sounds like you believe there is one party with all the truth and light and one party of evil and lies. The other way of seeing it is that both parties have their strengths and weaknesses that are being tailored to people with diverse needs and values. IOW, that Democracy is a way of pursuing and discovering truth and quality which transcends any political party.

      Food for thought…Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Swami
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        says:

        There’s one party that’s trying to install a vile infant as dictator and one that is not.Report

        • Avatar Swami in reply to Mike Schilling
          Ignored
          says:

          As a person who despises Trump and would indeed classify him as “vile”, I must disagree. One party is not in any way trying or hoping to install a dictator.

          Unlike you, I actually talk to Conservatives. They view him as being a superior choice to the Progressive alternative, which frankly scares the you know what out of them.

          There are two legitimate political parties out there, each appealing to differing needs and values. Both have huge weaknesses, but the hope of democracy is that the conflict and competition between the extremes leads to and discovers something more palatable to all.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Swami
            Ignored
            says:

            The fact that Joe Biden, of all people, scares them is not reassuring, any more than their unwillingness to admit that he won.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Schilling
              Ignored
              says:

              The Savvy Pundits assured us that If Only the Democrats would nominate someone less abrasive, more genial and cheerful; If Only they nominated someone calm and reassuring and moderate and centrist, then all those reluctant Trump voters who “held their nose” and voted for him in 2016 would come home.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                From 2019:

                Anyway, more to the point, I go to the 2016 electoral map.

                The question of whether Biden could win hinges on that map. As I said on the twitters:

                Given Biden,
                1) Which of Clinton’s states jump into the Trump Column
                2) Which of Trump’s states jump into the Biden Column

                I think Trump gets NH and Biden gets The Blue Wall back. (Well, today I think that, anyway.)

                So let’s look at the map.

                We’ll give New Hampshire to Trump and we’ll give Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to Biden.

                Biden wins. 274 to 264.

                Easy peasy.

                And Biden did not get 274 EVs.

                He got 306.

                He got the folks who voted for Obama and then, for whatever reason, failed to vote for Clinton.

                Those voters came home.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Why are you counting electoral votes, when discussing voters?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh, I have an answer for that!

                It’s because the electoral votes count up the votes in the various states and if you win a particular state (or state district), you get that state’s electoral vote. (Maine and Nebraska have districts that can “split” the state but it’s only worth 1EV).

                Here, we can look at the election maps from:
                2012
                2016
                and 2020

                So if we start with 2012 and move to 2016, we see that there are several states that moved from a Democrat win to a Republican win:
                Iowa
                Wisconsin
                Michigan
                Ohio
                Florida
                Pennsylvania
                And that one district in Maine.

                Those were all places that had a majority (or plurality) of voters cast votes for Obama that became places that had a majority (or plurality) of voters cast votes for Trump.

                Then, if we go from 2016 to 2020, we see the following states flip:

                Arizona
                That one district in Nebraska
                Wisconsin
                Michigan
                Georgia
                and Pennsylvania.

                Those were all places that had a majority (or plurality) of voters cast votes for Trump that became places that had a majority (or plurality) of voters cast votes for Biden.

                Now what are the states that show up twice?

                Because those are states that went Obama -> Trump -> Biden.

                They are:
                Wisconsin
                Michigan
                and Pennsylvania.

                Does that answer your question?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                So the states Trump won by a narrow sliver in 2016, were won by Biden by a narrow sliver in 2020.

                Which means, the Democrats did everything the Savvy Pundits assured us was critical, and moved a narrow sliver of the electorate.

                That’s a good thing! We should take the win when we can!

                But it leave unaddressed the other 75 million Trump voters.

                We can agree that none of them were reluctant, or holding their noses, or suffering economic anxiety or voting for any of the other myriad reasons we were given in 2016.

                America has at least 75 million voters who, even when offered a perfectly reasonable centrist, a well liked alternative to Trump, chose Trump once again.

                They weren’t rejecting a Bad Candidate, or one who Made Gaffes, or Failed To Visit Swing States or any of the other excuses pundits came up with in 2016.

                So we can conclude that Trump’s brand of authoritarianism and racism is a deep seated, firmly held preference for slightly less than half of America’s citizens.

                This is who they are.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I see we’ve moved on from “The Savvy Pundits assured us that If Only the Democrats would nominate someone less abrasive, more genial and cheerful; If Only they nominated someone calm and reassuring and moderate and centrist, then all those reluctant Trump voters who “held their nose” and voted for him in 2016 would come home.”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You misunderstand;
                The point isn’t that swing voters exist; Its that they are a tiny sliver of the electorate.

                The vast bulk of Trump voters are doing so eagerly and refuse any other alternative.

                The Savvy Pundits refuse to grasp this fact.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah, they’re still stuck on the whole “you can win elections if you nominate someone who is less abrasive” thing and not enough on the whole “there are people who don’t agree that we’re good and they’re bad” thing.

                This is where epistemic divorce comes in.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                We can agree that none of them were reluctant, or holding their noses, or suffering economic anxiety or voting for any of the other myriad reasons we were given in 2016.

                We’re in the middle of a pandemic and we can assume there’s no economic anxiety? I’d say it’s the reverse, without the pandemic the Trump-boom would result in him crushing whoever Team Blue runs against him.

                America has at least 75 million voters who, even when offered a perfectly reasonable centrist, a well liked alternative to Trump, chose Trump once again.

                Team Blue has spent the last year burning down cities, claiming they’re going to get rid of cops, talking about the best way to pack the courts, and impose wealth taxes and other burn-the-economy-down-to-fight-inequality measures.

                Put differently, as a whole Team Blue has been claiming they’re going to go all in with leftist authoritarianism.

                Joe, personally, is fine if we give him a pass on creating cages for children, not refreshing PPE stocks after the last virus (swine flu in 2009), and having a son who influence peddles (and potentially shares the money with his father).

                My expectation is that with him in charge the media goes back to ignoring children in cages so there’s that.Report

  5. Avatar Dark Matter
    Ignored
    says:

    The Math of this is it’s ALWAYS possible for the out of power group to promise “more” to a majority of the population. That means there’s a huge amount of pressure for this system to be unstable (so a perm majority is probably impossible).Report

    • Avatar Swami in reply to Dark Matter
      Ignored
      says:

      Exactly. For some reason, it seems a lot of people have a hard time either understanding or remembering this point. It reminds me of the discussion a few years ago about how immigration and demographics would give Democrats a commanding majority. The parties and platforms are dynamic and the positions bend around the electorate. Over decades the parties will even reverse positions with each other in some cases.Report

  6. Avatar Andy
    Ignored
    says:

    Listening is part of it for sure, but I think the bigger issue is more fundamental – the movement of the party toward cosmopolitan attitudes and policies and the general sorting of voters that’s been going on for the past couple of decades.

    There are simply few elites left in the party with any direct experience or understanding of the needs of rural voters and, like all people, the elites tend to prioritize what they know and understand. There’s also an attitude that Democrats don’t need these votes anymore.

    That granting statehood to DC, Puerto Rico, and others has become the go-to solution to better Democratic representation in the Senate (along with wishful thinking about “reforming” the Senate generally and the complaints about how much more powerful Wyoming supposedly is compared to California) illustrates how low a priority competing for rural votes has actually become.

    All of this has been exacerbated by the culture war and the values of many rural people simply don’t line up well with where the Democratic party is going. Dumb messaging about deplorables and bitter clingers hasn’t exactly helped either. It’s hard to compete for votes while simultaneously telling those voters they are dumb, don’t understand their own interests, and are morally compromised and provincial.

    Listening is definitely very important, but before that can happen, the party (or at least the elites) need to understand the problem and that listening is part of the solution. It doesn’t appear to me that they are there yet, and I don’t see much changing with the Biden administration. With the exception of Tom Vilsack, Biden’s cabinet is heavily skewed toward urban interests.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Andy
      Ignored
      says:

      Elites is an overused word that does way too much heavy lifting.Report

      • Avatar Andy in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        I agree, but I haven’t found a better term to use to describe the small number of powerful and influential people who are the dominant players in determining the political agenda and preferences for a party.

        Maybe the social-media term “influencers” is better? I don’t know, but I’m open to alternatives.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Andy
          Ignored
          says:

          “Privilege” used to be a useful concept, but now it inspires thoughtstop.

          Which sucks.

          Because it used to be a useful concept.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Andy
          Ignored
          says:

          The problem is that we have this conversation a lot on OT and it is starting to feel like entrenched warfare. There is the side that seems to think the Democrats can do something to get back rural voters and there is a side that seems to think that they are trying through policy but losing on culture war stuff. I admit to being in the second group. This might be an intractable problem.Report

          • Avatar Andy in reply to Saul Degraw
            Ignored
            says:

            I’ve been reading here a while but recently just started commenting, so my apologies if I’m digging up old terrain.

            I don’t really subscribe to either side of that binary.

            Ultimately appealing to any voting group requires understanding what issues are actually salient to those voters (not the issues that one imagines are salient) and then being willing to make the policy and messaging compromises necessary to at least become the less-bad alternative since we have binary-choice elections.

            I don’t think that Democrats as a whole have done a good job on either count when it comes to rural voters, but they are doing quite well with other groups.

            A big part of the problem is that we have extremely weak parties here in the US and politics is nationalized. There’s no central control of the agenda or of messaging, nor does the party leadership have much authority to enforce compliance among members to a specific agenda. Parties can’t even prevent non-party members from competing for office. Parties today are more like brands than coherent political entities.

            That makes actual prioritization and follow-through hard and long-term planning just about impossible. It also doesn’t promote the inter-party compromises that are necessary to make a political tent bigger and there’s no party authority to force such compromise to or make the various ideological factions within a party play nice.

            So I don’t really see what the party can do with rural voters because parties don’t have any actual power. So it’s up to individual candidates to make appeals during an election, but those candidates have to contend with a nationalized politics. And then there is the primary system and the cohorts of primary voters.

            The problem may ultimately be unsolvable.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Andy
              Ignored
              says:

              I think “rural” is , while true, not that useful here. As Chip notes the D’s rural problem is with white rural voters. What is different about rural voters then others? Self selection for rural vs other places indicates some values and preferences but gets overworked a bit. Rural white voters tend to be conservative for a bunch of reasons. D’s messaging works poorly with conservatives and vice versa. It’s less that D’s can’t connect with rural people but that D’s can’t magically win over conservatives.

              Party weakness is very much an issue. It is also true that political label has become a lifestyle brand and Americans looooove our brand identification.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Andy
          Ignored
          says:

          Joe Biden won Arizona, and the Presidency in large part due to rural Native American voters. Rural Black and Hispanic people still vote overwhelmingly Democratic, regardless of Trump’s success with South Florida Cubans or slight uptick in the Rio Grande Valley.

          Why is it that these people, the farmworkers, service workers, and slaughterhouse workers across rural America are so successfully partnered with the cosmopolitan elite party of BLM and Antifa?

          How did the Democrats manage to win their votes?

          “Rural” in these conversations is a smokescreen, like “working class”. It only makes sense when used with the modifier “White”.
          Trump won the [White] farmers; Biden won the [Nonwhite] farmworkers;
          Trump won the [White] working class; Biden won the [Nonwhite] working class;
          Trump won the [White] Christians; Biden won the [Nonwhite] Christians.

          It isn’t that there is some political agenda of the rural population that is different than the urban population; Its just that those who vote Republican form the majority of the rural population.

          For that matter, there are plenty of Trumpists in suburbia and the urban areas; But people who vote Democratic form the majority of population of the urban areas.

          The divide isn’t “rural geographic area” versus “urban geographical area”; It isn’t between “This set of governmental policies” versus “That set of governmental policies”.

          Its between one cultural tribe that refuses to accept the other as co-equal partners in the republic.Report

          • Avatar Andy in reply to Chip Daniels
            Ignored
            says:

            I do think there is a big problem with how we categorize groups of people and “rural” is certainly an overbroad category that misses many important differences – and not just in regards to “white.”

            I don’t think anyone is suggesting that Democrats didn’t receive any votes from rural voters. Certainly, they did, overall Biden got something like 1/3 of the rural vote. But by the same token, Trump got around 1/3 of the urban vote.

            “It isn’t that there is some political agenda of the rural population that is different than the urban population; Its just that those who vote Republican form the majority of the rural population.”

            The relevant question is why most rural voters vote Republican, and I don’t think it’s a tautology. Having lived in urban, suburban, and rural areas I do think there are real differences in political preferences that aren’t merely about tribalism.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Chip Daniels
            Ignored
            says:

            From 2016 to 2020 Arizona added most of 500,000 people, 350,000 of them in Maricopa County (Phoenix and suburbs). More of them are younger than retirees. A friend who lives there thinks that the Native American vote was important, but so was Trump pissed off the younger suburban women.

            If Biden is looking for suggestions, well, the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station shut down in 2019 and took a lot of Navajo Nation jobs and revenue with it. NGS was one of the big coal-burners that the federal government pushed to get built in the 1970s, siting it where it would benefit the Nation. Time to push for major solar installations there. There’s already a proposal for a large pumped hydro storage facility.Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq
    Ignored
    says:

    This wouldn’t be an issue in most election systems used in other developed democracies because voting is either entirely unmored from geogrpahy or if tied or semi-tied to geography, there isn’t the malapropriation and gerrymandering that exits in the United States. Rural voters are able to make their voice count more by ways that are either baked into the Constittution or by cheating outrageously when formulating districts.Report

  8. Avatar Swami
    Ignored
    says:

    I don’t see how it would serve a Left wing politician to go into a room of 300 rural voters, many Evangelical, who will ask them questions such as:

    1) what they are going to do about their schools promoting homosexuality to their kids. Do you want my kids to burn for eternity in hell?

    2) what they are going to do about the rampant murder of unborn babies?

    3) what they are going to do about the fact that their children are at the back of the line both in acceptance and financial aid at colleges and jobs because they are too white?

    These are questions that the left wing carefully avoids as there is no answer which will satisfy the rural voters and NOT alienate their loyal base. It is a no win situation, if the politician caters to the these views (as the Far Right does), then they will destroy their standing with their core voters. If they stand their ground, they will be publicly tarred and feathered with the result broadcast nationally that evening.

    The point is that many of the core issues (Dark Matter listed some others above) have zero to do with listening to rural voters. If a politician’s positions are antithetical to the voters’ positions, then a dialogue is not going to do anything positive for that politician’s standing.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Swami
      Ignored
      says:

      Abortion: yup that is a major issue for which there is often little discussion.
      1 and 3: yeah it would be hard for a liberal to answer them in the way they want. But not for the reason you think. Which is the actual problem.Report

      • Avatar Swami in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Cryptic! Do enlighten us.

        My point is that these are not topics where the discussion are going to go well for the politician, and I can add a dozen others.Report

        • Avatar gregiank in reply to Swami
          Ignored
          says:

          Schools aren’t promoting homosexuality. At most they are treating LBGTQ people decently and not people to be feared. Treating LBGTQ people well is not promoting it.

          “Too white” Please lets have more class based Affirmative action. Plenty of people are for that. Not seeing any action. Cutting college loans, which may be good policy for other reasons, will only make it harder for poor white kids to go to school. White kids can go to college if they want. POC aren’t keeping them out. If they can’t get into Harvard they can get into plenty of elite schools. POC are not the problem that are keeping “too white” kids out of college.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to gregiank
            Ignored
            says:

            RE: homosexuality
            There’s a segment of society which thinks anything less than condemnation is encouragement.

            RE: White kids can go to college if they want. POC aren’t keeping them out.

            Oh come on. I have a childhood friend who went to Harvard with a full ride. Her mind, test scores, and accomplishments are FAR less than my oldest girl.

            My kid got a full ride to a lesser school, she has done great and I’m fine with that. With black skin she would have gotten full ride offers from dozens of places and not just full-from-one, partial rides from most, and acceptance from all.

            They’re not being kept out of college but they also don’t have magic wands being waved to try to make them successful based on what happened 2+ generations ago.Report

          • Avatar Swami in reply to gregiank
            Ignored
            says:

            Dude, you are trying to argue with me. Wrong person.

            The issue is that you would be run out of a town hall meeting of Evangelicals if you argued that. They do not believe a word of what you are saying. Have you never actually had in depth, lengthy discussions or arguments with intelligent, college-educated Evangelicals and Conservatves before? Seems like you haven’t. There are millions of them out there. Really.

            If you want to appeal to rural voters, the first step is to not treat them like racist troglodytes. A politician going into rural Tennessee is going to have to convince the room that their issues and concerns are valid, and is going to have to do that in a way which doesn’t start a riot with the Woke Nazis.

            Honestly, when I read the things people of the far left write (the author of this post, almost every comment here not written by Dark Matter, and elsewhere) the tone deafness to non-left view points is astounding.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to gregiank
            Ignored
            says:

            Do you realize this is a mug’s game? They are bad-faith trolls. Not anyone who will ever be convinced.Report

            • Avatar Swami in reply to Saul Degraw
              Ignored
              says:

              Adam Taylor: To reach rural voters, we need to listen!

              Greg listens and engages in a dialogue with Swami and Dark

              Saul to Greg: Don’t waste your time listening, it’s futile.

              For the record, I am not trying to convince anyone about an Evangelical position. I am not an Evangelical or even a conservative and I don’t share many of their views. My point is that rural voters have views, values and positions which are antithetical to those on the left. It is pretty much the same argument Chip is making above.

              The original post and much of the comment section are examples of how the left is clueless about the right. If you start with the assumption that rural voters are confused and misinformed idiots who just need to be enlightened on the superiority of Progressive ideas, you have effectively revealed why rural voters reject what you are selling.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                rural voters have views, values and positions which are antithetical to those on the left.

                And yet tone policing will somehow help?Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                I am confused. I did not think I was arguing that the solution is “tone policing”. Sorry if I wrote something to the contrary.

                My argument is that a left politician can’t empathize and engage with rural Evangelicals (as an extreme). Their Evangelical positions are legitimate to them, and for a politician to even acknowledge that they are legitimate, would risk alienating that politicians left base.

                Can you guys list out what Evangelicals believe and want?

                Can you lay out positions which embrace these values and don’t betray leftist ideals?

                If not, you should not attempt having a town hall dialogue with them. It won’t go well.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                What does it mean to “empathize and engage” if the contending positions, as you yourself describe them, are substantively irreconcilable and not susceptible to compromise? If you want to make the case for politeness — or tone policing — for its own sake, knock yourself out. If not, then what?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                “What does it mean to “empathize and engage” if the contending positions, as you yourself describe them, are substantively irreconcilable and not susceptible to compromise?”

                Like, let’s say that there are economic changes coming.

                Industries that used to be good career paths are not anymore and won’t be available at all for future generations.

                A: These industries are going away. Maybe it can be slowed at great cost (cost that isn’t worth the price) but it can’t be stopped. It’s inevitable. What we propose is that we transition from the old way to a new way. A way that will make things easy for the elderly, easier for the adults, and make a good future possible for the children.

                B: We’re going to put a lot of companies and workers out of work.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                A sounds like a perfectly reasonable message!

                And hey guess what- Here is Democratic candidate Paula Jean Swearengen, running for Senator in West Virginia:
                “West Virginia can no longer sustain a monolithic economy built on one industry. We must expand opportunities for growth and development. Our workers and their families should never have to move out of the state to find good-paying and stable employment.

                It’s time to invest in ourselves and we can do this by upgrading and modernizing our crumbling infrastructure. We must make our state more appealing to industry nationwide while also investing in home-grown industry and business.

                Technology is changing modern economic development every day. To seed industry we must make federal and statewide investments in broadband, telecommunications and internet to help bring access to every corner of our state.”

                Wow, this is a terrific message- respectful in tone and optimistic and thoughtful.
                Those Democrats- they really know how to win in coal country!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                So you’re saying that we agree?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You and I and the 27% of West Virginia voters who voted for Swearengen agree.

                The other 73%, eh, not so much.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Out of curiosity, do you believe that it’s possible that the rhetoric of the Republicans about race did damage with their relationship with African-Americans in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s that lasts to this day?

                Not whether you think that it has, mind.

                Just whether you think that it’s possible that it did.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Let’s all stipulate that Hillary Clinton was a clumsy candidate in 2016 and that there are better and worse ways of stating politically unpalatable truths, though it remains to be shown whether even the best ways will be effective against a shameless liar or bullshitter who tells the victims of those unpalatable truths what they want to hear. Let’s even agree to set aside a whole post and comment section where anyone who cares can discuss this. Then lets see who wants to participate.
                In the meantime, what is to be done if, as Swami suggests, there are unbridgeable substantive gaps immune to clever or empathetic messaging?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Let’s all stipulate that Hillary Clinton was a clumsy candidate in 2016 and that there are better and worse ways of stating politically unpalatable truths

                This is all that I have ever asked.

                I would like to stipulate that “better” and “worse” can translate into “votes”.

                And if we do that, then I will cheerfully concede the point that there are three groups of voters and, yes, in the second group of voters, there are people who will have the choice before them of “voting for your opponent” and “not voting at all” and “voting for your guy” is not on the table for them.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                1. If that means we don’t have to hear about Hillary again, I’ll sign on.
                2. But whether there are significant votes to be had by talking like Paula Swearengen rather than Hillary Clinton is the very point at issue, so we can’t “stipulate” to it.
                3. Nobody is asking you to concede a proposition too vacuous to be false. That’s your routine.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                CJ, you wouldn’t believe how many of my various propositions that I think are trivially obvious get a huge amount of pushback.

                Like, the whole “three groups of voters” thing. I think that that’s pretty freakin’ obvious!

                And yet I can still find examples of people arguing as if there are only two groups of voters, and only two groups of voters will there ever be, as if 2012, 2016, and 2020 did not happen.

                It’s crazy.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I’d absolutely believe it. Just for different reasons.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Is my writing so bad that everybody assumes I am saying the polar opposite of what I mean to say? Again, I should apologize then.

                My position is that

                1). The positions are irreconcilable
                2) it is thus FUTILE to try to empathize and engage, because
                3). It will either piss off the rural voters or piss off the progressive base.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                Apparently.

                This, at least, was clear.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m the one arguing that tweaking semiotics will have dividends, CJ.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                But your very own words demonstrate the futility of this “if only we listen we will reach an accord” idea.

                Among all American conservatives, you and Dark and Pinky and Kristin are perhaps the most temperate and moderate.
                You aren’t raving religious zealots or fascist militia members, and generally support the tenets of liberal democracy and power sharing.

                We have regular polite conversations and exchange views in honest and respectful tones.

                And yet…in your own words the preconditions of winning your votes are essentially the abandonment of the main pillars of our party.

                And again, you are perhaps the best possible candidate for conversion!
                If we can’t reach accord with you, who are these elusive unicorns that we can we reach by “listening”?Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Who would have thought that Democrats would not win elections by listening to Republicans?Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I am not in any way suggesting that if the left would listen better that they could reach accord with the far right. I was just teasing Saul.

                I agree with you that there is no reasonable way for the left to reconcile with the far right. They are striving for incompatible goals.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Swami
      Ignored
      says:

      Are those questions unique and specific to rural voters? Or are they associated with conservative Evangelicals, which may live more frequently in rural areas?Report

      • Avatar Swami in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        The latter. I was just using them as the extreme rural voter. Looking up percentages of Evangelicals by state, and knowing their influence in politics, it is reasonable to assume that engaging with rural white voters is going to run into significant Evangelical resistance at many town halls.

        They really despise Progressive policies, and better explanations won’t change that. If progressive politicians attempt to empathize and engage with Evangelicals on abortion (murder), or homosexuality (a mortal sin), or try to convince them that not embracing white privilege is de facto racism then they will either piss off the crowd or piss off their base.Report

  9. Avatar CJColucci
    Ignored
    says:

    I have trouble accepting theories that depend on believing that there is a partisan divide on basic, human social skills — especially common skills that are the stock in trade of even moderately successful politicians. To get anywhere in politics, from town council on up, you have to be able to listen and empathize with constituent concerns. And it is a huge help if you share a common background with the people whose votes you want. All of this is perfectly obvious and reflected in real-world political practice. Parties run candidates who are friends and neighbors of the voters, who have spent years listening to and sharing their concerns. (There are, of course, inept individual candidates. Name your own.)
    It goes without saying that, for example, AOC would be a terrible candidate in rural America. She is probably quite ignorant of rural issues — perhaps almost as ignorant as the rural politicos who would s**t themselves walking the streets of her district for fear of American Carnage — and hasn’t grown up among rural voters. So the Democrats don’t run AOC for a Senate seat in Montana; they run Steve Bullock, who practically oozes the right human qualities and had previously persuaded Montana voters to make him Governor. He lost. It wasn’t the Democrats who ran a Senate candidate who didn’t have even a ballpark idea what price Iowa farmers were getting for their soybeans; it was the Republicans. But the Democrat lost. Which suggests that the rural voters’ problem is not that the Democrats are sending AOC to run in their districts or states, but that AOC exists at all. And there’s nothing to be done about that unless this is yet another installment of “I’ll gladly vote for the Democrats if they nominate Republicans.”
    To be sure, the national leadership of the Democratic Party, like the national leadership of the Republican Party, comes from the core rather than the periphery of the party’s base. If Montanans and Iowans want Montanans and Iowans at the top of the national Democratic ticket, they ought to f*****g vote for Democrats.
    That said, we may as well try the one concrete suggestion given. It probably can’t hurt and might help.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to CJColucci
      Ignored
      says:

      Steve Bullock was running against an incumbent, which is like running uphill.
      He was doing so in a Presidential Election Year.
      His State voted for Trump by 16+ points.
      He got beat by 10 points, which is 6 better than Trump did.

      RE: AOC
      Figuring out how to stand up to your own loony fringe is a problem. That loony fringe being mainstream enough to not be fringe is another.

      Worrying about voting for someone also enabling their crew not only is an issue but it should be. Now it’s less of an issue if state’s rights is a thing and respected.Report

      • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Dark Matter
        Ignored
        says:

        1. Yes, Bullock lost. That’s what I said. And what about Iowa?
        2. So it is that AOC exists at all?Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to CJColucci
          Ignored
          says:

          Yes it is that AOC exists at all and a good number of people will go blue to the face rather than admit it outright because they know enough it know it sounds bad to say it outright.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to CJColucci
          Ignored
          says:

          RE: So it is that AOC exists at all?

          For a certain percentage of the voters? Yes. Her existence is a massive turn off for me. To be fair, it’s more that her ideas seem to be accepted as somewhat mainstream. I could dismiss AOC as a pretty nut if Warren and Bernie weren’t the #3 and #2 Dem candidates.

          However I seriously doubt that people like me are more than single digit percentages and maybe not even that. I assume you gain more votes from her face and youth than you lose from her economic insanity.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to CJColucci
          Ignored
          says:

          Is the Qanon congresswoman from GA a problem?

          For me, she is, IF the GOP starts handing her plumb committee assignments. If she’s sidelined as a congressional freakshow, then she isn’t much of an issue.Report

      • Avatar beelzebob in reply to Dark Matter
        Ignored
        says:

        are racist troglodytes the loony fringe of ruralia?Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to beelzebob
          Ignored
          says:

          are racist troglodytes the loony fringe of ruralia?

          The actual Nazis? Yes. But there’s about 500 of them in the country.

          The people who do the same things as Team Blue but are then accused of being Racists? No.
          The people who don’t want their cities burned down or their police dismantled and are then accused of being Racists? Still No.

          Very often “racist” means “disagrees with Team Blue or is in the way”. There aren’t enough actual racists (by the old definitions) to mobilize against anymore. Team Blue fixed this “problem” by inventing “Structural Racism”, “Microaggressions”, and “White Privilege” to lower the evidence bar so anyone is a racist if it’s in Team Blue’s political interests.

          This hits the radar as a raw power grab.

          The underlying idea (if we ignore the raw power grab aspect to this which we shouldn’t) is different groups should have the same outcomes even if they’re from very different cultures and backgrounds.Report

  10. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Parties run candidates who are friends and neighbors of the voters, who have spent years listening to and sharing their concerns.

    He’s running for Senate now.

    The DNC was good at this when Howard Dean was in charge.

    For some reason, it stopped being good at this the moment Howard Dean resigned from his position as Chair.

    Ideally, yes. The DNC *WOULD* do what you’re saying it does. There were moments where, in fact, it *DID* do that.

    But it has stopped being good at that in recent years.

    Maybe it’ll start being good at that again. Maybe.Report

  11. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    On the topic of this essay, here is Mistermix writing at Balloon Juice, discussing Kevin Drum’s piece at Mother Jones on the Democrats and the working class:

    Feel free to argue with Kevin’s conclusion but let’s just assume he’s right and Democrats need to embrace more appealing social policies, whatever that means. Here’s my first question: how do we find working-class voters who will listen? As I’ve argued before, there’s a major swath of rural voters who are lost to any form of persuasion because they are in a Fox/Facebook bubble.

    My second question is what it means to move to the center on social policy. My view is that it’s easy to say and hard to do, because two of the biggest social issues, guns and abortion, are almost completely black-and-white for those who are moved by them.

    IMO, mistermix and Kevin Drum make the same faulty assumptions- “If only Democrats could reach these voters, if only they would listen to us, then surely we could win them…”

    Sez who?

    What if 73 million Americans really mean it when they vote for an authoritarian? What if the Republican voters really truly would be happy to see the military step in and overturn the results of the election?

    No, the chorus rises- This is un-possible! Americans are good and decent and love liberal democracy! They only vote for Trump because Democrats something something!

    But history, American history says otherwise. The American citizens of Toqueville’s time, of the Gilded Age, of the New Deal era, have always, consistently, been willing to accept illiberalism and the disenfranchisement of some segment of our population. Liberal democracy is the exception in America, not the rule.

    So who says that the constituency for liberal democracy constitutes a majority in America? What if what we are seeing right now is the emergence of an illiberal majority?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      Well, one unit of measurement might be primaries.

      Who are the Democrats most likely to win a competitive Democratic Primary?

      Perhaps focus on the policies that they are most known for as being representative of Democrats and the ones that they don’t have that “the left” (whatever that means) has are not representative of Democrats but “the left” (whatever that means) is trying to pull the Democrats in their direction.

      And same for “the right” (whatever that means).

      And that will eventually result in an epistemic divorce.

      Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      What if what we are seeing right now is the emergence of an illiberal majority?

      Is violence being used to silence political views?
      Even state violence?
      Is the gov suppressing views?
      Are the courts being packed and/or ignored?
      Elections ignored or over turned?
      Term limits ignored?

      Subtract the hysteria and there’s nothing to see. A few marginal players made outrageous suggestions, the only one that looked like it might gain traction was that court packing suggestion from the left. Trump abused the legal and political processes, but as far as I can tell he didn’t change any of them and his “abuse” was mostly lawyers shuffling paper to judges.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
        Ignored
        says:

        Honestly, are they giving out Nobel prizes for “Attempted Authoritarianism”?Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          Attempting? He’s pretending to attempt or even talking about pretending to attempt. So it’s basically acting or “reality show drama”.

          Nobel Prize is $1.1 Million.
          I expect Trump got paid a lot more than that for this act.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
            Ignored
            says:

            Even taking your analysis at face value, this is a staggering collapse of American democratic values.

            That a sitting President can be plotting to overthrow an election, and a typical Republican chuckles and shrugs it off.

            It isn’t an exaggeration to say that a majority of the Republican Party would be happy to see the election overturned, or maybe just indifferent to it.

            Your metrics above are the end result, the aftermath of the death of democracy, not the precedent to it.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
              Ignored
              says:

              That a sitting President can be plotting to overthrow an election, and a typical Republican chuckles and shrugs it off.

              Just like I shrugged off all those previous claims of him soon to be engaging in mass murder, building death camps, and so on.

              Trump continues to show his skill at spinning the other side up so they make crazy claims.

              If you want to back up your claims you need to point so something other than twitter and lawyer fillings. Corpses or at least the attempt to make them or at the VERY least the preparations for that sort of thing.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Hmm, you got me there.

                Where would I go to find hundreds of thousands of corpses due to the Trump administration, or concentration camps?

                Imma gonna have to spend some time on this one.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Where would I go to find hundreds of thousands of corpses due to the Trump administration, or concentration camps?

                So you’re moving the goal posts to something you’d give a pass to a President Dem over?

                Or is the claim that a (Vice-)President Biden would have replaced our stock of PPE after Bird Flu (he didn’t) or not build/used cages for children (he did)?

                And look at just how far the goal posts have been moved. We started with how Trump was going to overthrow the country and now we’re at… what? Something about the virus?Report

    • Avatar Andy in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      Overall, this has been an interesting debate to watch as a newbie here.

      My view is this:

      Political realignments happen and we may be in the midst of one now.

      I think the notion that certain groups are essentially unitary and therefore unreachable politically is not an iron law, particularly at the margins. Democrats shouldn’t expect to turn the 35-65 rural split into 65-35 or even 55-45, but there is room to make inroads in rural areas.

      But getting back to realignments for a minute, the Democratic party used to be the party of the working class, African Americans, unions, etc. while the GoP was the party of the educated, the wealthy, business, and suburbia.

      That isn’t true today. Democrats are now the party of the educated and wealthy white people, ethnic minorities, and public sector unions. Much of the working class has switched to the GoP and Trump actually got some private-sector union endorsements. Meanwhile, Trump’s lack of character and other flaws have cost the GoP suburbia, particularly with women. He’s alienated and chased away many of the old core constituencies of the Republican party and has essentially abandoned the center.

      In my view, this should be a tremendous opportunity for Democrats to decisively expand their tent. There are groups in play for the Democrats that have never been in play before. But doing that would require political and ideological flexibility, which many are not willing to cede. In the age-old balance between ideological purity and factional compromise, the side for purity seems to be winning.

      Anyway, I tend to think the arguments which essentially state that Democrats can’t pick up additional votes among voters who haven’t been traditional Democrats is not supported by the recent historical evidence and rely on the questionable assumptions about the unitary character of voting blocks. For example, that “evangelicals” are all the same and only care about abortion.

      Even though this thread is about rural areas, I think the decisive contests will actually be in the suburbs. Were I in charge of Democratic strategy I wouldn’t neglect rural areas, but I’d spend the bulk of my effort in the suburbs.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Andy
        Ignored
        says:

        I agree with you that we are in the midst of a realignment.
        I don’t think the dividing line is wealth however.

        The “working class” and the “investor class” are both split between Republicans and Democrats. Overall, most of the working class still votes Democratic.

        But what is noteworthy is that economic class isn’t the driving variable of what wins or loses votes. We talked about how even people who are directly harmed, sometimes bankrupted by Trump’s policies will still vote for him. And how wealthy professionals will vote for a party that promises to raise their taxes.

        Which is why conventional political analysis tends to fail. Most political punditry assumes that if you put more money in people’s pockets, you will win their allegiance.

        This isn’t true any more.

        The driving variable in American politics today is race and cultural attitudes. This more than any other variable will explain and predict a given voter’s party affiliation.

        I agree that these attitudes aren’t fixed; It is entirely possible for political leaders to actually shape and guide the opinions and attitudes of their followers, and win over new voters.

        For example, when Obama came out in favor of same sex marriage, he not only won voters, but also changed the opinions of his own followers.

        I don’t claim to have a savvy or clever political strategy in mind, for how to convince Americans to support liberal democracy and tolerance.
        But I think we liberals need to be clear eyed and honest about what we are confronting.Report

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