Sage advice for coping with a world gone mad.
Without knowing which state Talia lives in, I would maybe redirect her thoughts on rural voters. Case in point: In Georgia, there's a significant population of Black farmers in the rural south of our state. One of Stacey Abrams's particular insights, which yielded the closest governor's race we've had since the 1960s in 2018, was that Atlanta-focused Democrats had stopped thinking about them, talking to them, and asking them for their votes. Her 2018 strategy was to energize urban voters of all strata, college educateds and new Americans in the suburbs, and rural voters across Georgia's Black Belt into a winning coalition, and she came within 50,000 votes or so of making it happen.
Not sure there's much we can do to pull back Fox-pilled white rurals who think we're satanic pedophiles who drink baby blood, but certainly in the south, writing off rural communities means writing off a ton of Black voters who deserve better representation than what's currently on offer in this region.
Charlie, the next time you speak with Adam Kinzinger I would appreciate you asking why he's criticizing Biden for gas prices when (a) he knows there's not much the President can do (b) he voted against the anti-price gouging bill just the other week. Thanks!
There is some *heat* in the comments section today! As a resident of Providence, RI (not exactly "real 'merica" per the haters), I admit my frustration with rural whites frequently boils over to rage. However, in my more lucid moments I realize a lot of this is generated by media portrayals and WashPost / NY-Times practice of parachuting into fly-over country, finding the craziest SOBs who will comment, and then reporting back to their credulous coastal readers (i.e. me). In other words, I think Talia's comments are probably based on where she lives (guessing a coastal state or oasis of sophistication in the middle-of-the-country), frustration from reading about Cletus von Ivemectrin, and anger that dangerous morons like Groomer Matt Gaetz, Space Laser Larger Marge, and Lauren Bozo Boebert get compared 1:1 to Squad members who, while not great from my perspective, are not out-and-out lunatics. To put it plain: the Republican crazies are fascists (if not Nazis) whereas the SQUAD are merely annoying, Che Guevera poster sporting, college-eque socialists.
When I *really* want to make myself feel bad, I recall how some of my best business trips (I worked for a distribution company) took me to rural America: Iowa, Wisconsin, and up-state New York where I met *very nice and decent people*. Iowa, in particular, was pretty awesome. Granted, I was in a college town (Iowa City) but the general vibe of the place was low-key and friendly. Same was true in Wisconsin. I think back and I can't imagine *all* those people have whipped out orange shirts to join the orange Mussolini's parade.
Rural whites in Iowa voted for Obama twice! Biden won a Nebraska congressional district! Democrats *can* pick-off some rural white votes! The governors of Kentucky and Kansas are Democrats! Utah might go with an independent over the odious Mike Lee!
I guess my point is we can't dismiss large swaths of population... (we = Democrats). If we can just cut the margins down a bit, we'll have real chances in Presidential and Senate races. North Dakota had a Democratic Senator recently...
One of my many frustrations--since we are sharing!--with the Democrats, and Progressives in particular, is a complete lack of pragmatism. They demand everything and require it now regardless of its popularity and seem unwilling to consider alternatives (hence moderates allergy to student loan forgiveness in lieu of something that helps more people including those who didn't go to university). I'm *not* saying their program is all bad (although I'm an avowed moderate) but its the inability to negotiate and/or take 51% of a deal. Even 30% is better than zero. Ok, sure, Sinema is deeply weird and seems to be in love with her brand but Manchin can make a deal (Murkowski too for that matter). Put some pressure on the Rs! Fund rural programs and opioid health reform! Get the Republicans to vote against their constituents interest and then publicize the f-out of it.
I also submit that Corrie Bush, AOC, et. al. are kinda bad at politics outside their core peeps, but don't worry! Progressive Bulwark readers can choose a person who is a) better than the SQUAD combined and b) still annoys our conservative buds: Stacy Abrams. Lets put her in charge of get-out-the-vote for Democrats (she should be DNC Empress). Her organization got the dull John Ossoff a Senate seat along with Raphael Warnock. She could help D's in competitive, but tricky places...
Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, BUT I'm pretty sure Hohmann, in his zeal to criticize VP Harris, has conflated her 2016 senate election, which Harris won with 61.6% of the vote, and Feinstein's very narrow (for CA) win in 2018.
How anyone can look at the Reek-like performance of Mike Pence during the 4 years of Trump and decide that Kamala Harris is 'under-performing' is beyond my comprehension.
I don't agree with Taila's assessment that Cori Bush and AOC represent the mainstream of the party, and I don't think they would agree either. That said, Charlie's take that Manchin and Sinema represent the Democratic mainstream is equally off-base. Bush won in a blue pocket of a red state, so I agree she would struggle in a state-wide race. Likewise, AOC's claim to fame was taking out a fellow liberal in the 2018 NY primary. But if Cori Bush and AOC are on the left side of the Democratic spectrum, Manchin is on the far right - and he always has been. HIS claim to fame was shooting his rifle at a target marked 'Obamacare' in his first senate race. Sinema, on the other hand, ran as a left-leaning progressive and moved steadily rightward during her term - to the point she's now getting more support from republican superPACs than she is from her alleged constituents.
With all this in mind, what I hear in Hohmann's and Charlie's takes on the Democrats is fear that they won't do what republicans - like Charlie and our other friends here at the Bulwark - failed to to do - save this country from republicans and their increasing extremism.
The idea that a party, the Democrats, who've reduced income taxes on working and middle class Americans, while republicans like Rick Scott are floating tax increases for those same people AND killing off social security, have become 'the party of the elites' is the hottest of hot takes.
Who is it who's really in the bubble around here?
Counter-point to C.S. Lewis: Depends on the catastrophe and what the people are exposed to.
Ukrainian citizens are having a much different experience at war than American citizens did during all of the Global War on Terrorism. In our wars, only Marines and soldiers and their respective families felt the burdens of war, while their communities back home were partying and forgetting they even existed. In Ukraine, the soldiers and Marines come back to their hometowns to find it in ruins and half of their neighborhood are casualties. Our idea of the "precipice" may be sliding into anocracy and the prospect of actually having to deal with violence on the streets as a regular thing. That's par for the course in many countries, we've just had it so good that it feels like we're losing everything. But for a country coming down off of the decadent highs of the 80's/90's/00's, this is going to feel like a mid-life crisis for several of our generations. Try being a Ukrainian citizen right now and then talk about feeling like you're living on the edge of the precipice. America isn't on the precipice. America is at the mall. Our *government* is on the precipice, sure, but American citizens mostly are not. They are mostly complacent and mentally checked out. Life has gotten too complex, bleak, and depressing, so they check out mentally and focus on "living their best lives" and ignoring the big problems. That's mostly how we cope with "the precipice" as a decadent country. That was mostly the point of "Don't Look Up" on Netflix.
It's always odd that conservatives like Charlie were fine writing off Black voters in the 1980s and 1990s, yet demand that Dems genuflect to rural white voters who only ever voted for the more liberal party during The New Deal
AOC is a ways to the left of me and Manchin is a ways to the right. I’m perfectly happy to have both in the Democratic Party. I’d contrast that with Chris Jacobs who just came out as being open to a ban on assault weapons. Republicans will brook no dissent. RINOs are proliferating.
The Kamala thing is real. I made some general 'observations' once regarding her strengths and weaknesses and I had to press mute on Twitter. It's a weird thing, almost Trump-like in its slavish devotion.
I've been stewing about leaving a comment like this for some time, but I think I've finally thought it through enough to lay out my thoughts like this: I think our friends who grew up amongst the right wing/GOP who have turned against it in its current iteration fundamentally don't understand the Dem base. I still need time to refine my thoughts on the issue (and I'm open to adjusting if wrong) but:
I. The Dem "base" is smaller than the R "base"
A. By base, I mean the people who will turn out come hell or high water to vote for their respective party. The people who will always vote either D or R no matter what. There's a reason low turnout elections favor Republicans - the very base of the Democrats who always vote and always vote D is smaller than the R base.
B. Relatedly, the Dem coalition's biggest failure point is in elections where D and lean D voters just don't show up to the polls. This point is where I most strongly quibble with the talk about "Sister Souljah" moments and more extreme progressive smashing. I think it's a very very very delicate calculation that needs to be weighed - whether attacking the progressives brings more moderates on board than we lose in disappointed lefties. I'm not sure isolating the left wing of the party in favor of a "moderates only" approach is the winner so many people think it is. I'm open to being convinced but I haven't really seen any analysis showing that there are numerically more moderates that can be brought on board by jettisoning the left part of the party
C. I think it was on last week's Beg to Differ, but Tom Nichols told a story about Reagan. When he was told that the Evangelicals were mad at him for not giving them sufficient wins, he said "What are they going to do, vote for Mondale?" And Tom brought this up as a solution for what the Dems should do. But I think it's a misreading of the Dem coalition - in that situation, a significant minority of the party would absolutely vote Mondale. It's a weird, fragile coalition. I know there's constant arguments as to the size this group is, but just look at the Bernie -> Trump 2016 (and to a much lesser extent, 2020) pipeline.
D. I don't think the Right has the same issue with big thought leaders that the Left has. There too many left-coded people that actively try to drive down Dem turnout. It's the "We don't have Medicare for All/Green New Deal/all loans forgiven/etc so we might as well not even vote Dem or vote at all." The Dem party has to deal with that group in some fashion to staunch bleeding on the edges
II. I honestly don't think ignoring Urban/Suburban voters by pandering to rural WWC is the slam dunk so many think it is
A. Right now the Dem party is currently (very very broadly, very generally) a cultural mishmash of Urban voters, Suburban Lean D/Moderates, and Coastal Elite (though I'm very sympathetic to arguments that Coastal Elite mannerisms seem to have outsized influence). The last election was won by bringing squishy Moderates and low turnout lean D voters. The reason I credit the win in large part to the Moderates is so many who would either sit out or maybe vote R (especially Suburban Moderates) both voted and voted against Trump.
B. If we're thinking Presidential Election/the House, how much do we really think we can swing rural WWC votes? As we talk about all the time, Land is Important. But a corollary to that is majorities in specific places are important. And rural WWC for the most part is voting R in Saddam Hussein numbers. So for the Presidential election, why does Biden care about getting 2-3% more of the vote in Kentucky if the state is going to go R anyway? I'm deliberately leaving off Governor/Senate races as those do need to get the majority of the state on their side so have different incentives. But...
C. Yes, margins. But at this point it's a tradeoff. We have to weigh how much courting rural WWC turns away the left wing of the party. If there's an argument to be made that bringing more rural WWC and jettisoning the left part of the party brings in, numerically, more voters I'm all ears. But I haven't seen that argument made yet. Again - a lot of the solutions brought up as a way to get more rural WWC on board has a real chance of depressing left turnout.
In conclusion, I think what people aren't really coming to grips with is that it's a numbers problem. How many voters do we get on board the D party by courting rural WWC with these solutions? And how many Leftists do we lose by doing this? And how do we keep the Moderates in the tent? Again, I'm open to being convinced, but I've yet to see the argument that numerically, courting the rural WWC gains more voters than are lost amongst the left of the party.
I was surprised to see poor Talia called out in the newsletter this morning over far more reasonable voices, such as Joachim, who made some good points about student loan forgiveness. It's like attacking a straw man; if you look at the polls, Democrats are far more moderate than that. I understand the push for student loan forgiveness as a response to the stonewalling of the rest of Biden's agenda in Congress. There is a legitimate fear that if the progressives don't get something, they will stay home in November, and this is the one thing that Biden can do on his own, without Congress. Perhaps it's not the best move politically, but the more popular measures, like the extension of the child tax credit, can't get through this Congress. I don't get why you think that Republicans won't lose elections over abortion, guns, etc. but the Democrats will lose over loan forgiveness. There seems to be a particular animus on this issue that puzzles me.
Talia has no idea about suburban and rural Democrats who have found it extremely frustrating to remain married to a Democratic Party which represents a particular kind of urban, single interest voter. Many of us have fought for decades for equal opportunity for all continue to do so. Nevertheless, many of us are confused or offended by the cancel culture and distortion of language now required to be Democrat in good standing. If we want our Party to win elections rather than merely to try to score points, we have to take into consideration the pace of change which is possible for our society to achieve. The ideas of liberal democracy, and being a Liberal in today's America work when pace of change is pretty gradual, but continues to move towards equality and equity. The plight of once loyal non-college educated males in our country must be recognized and addressed. Finding work and functioning in our emerging world is difficult to impossible for them. Leaving them behind is disastrous. We cannot allow people like me (several college degrees and a white collar life) to so dominate the American left that we lose track of natural allies who are working class and seeking a better life.
Didn't hear the podcast mentioned here, and have not read the comment in full. Don't have to in order to call BS on this BS. Particularly point 4 about 'the whims of an embittered minority' in 'Rural America', which by Taila's lights is, I'm sure, the National Repository of all things ignorant and backward.
I live out here in the sticks, along with my wife, who is a life long Democrat, and a pretty unhappy one, since voices such as this have been growing louder. I've never joined a political party for reasons that are my own, but have voted Democratic at times over the years, and have cast my vote exclusively for D's since 2016 for what should be obvious reasons to those who think at the moment the preservation of democracy in this country is pretty much the whole shootin' match, at least for now. And I, nor my wife, are particularly impressed when we hear this kind of proclamation from Progressives. Not only are we not impressed, we pretty much are inclined to respond with the same 'embittered minority' attitude of the rest of the folks out here in Palookaville. Not because we see our lot as unfair or bad in some way, but we, like a lot of people, wherever they call home, don't much cotton to hypocrites, no matter their political stripe.
So, I guess the idea of the Democratic party being the party of inclusion and working for the rights of minorities, even those of a geographical nature, is pretty much just a campaign slogan, eh, Taila? No need to 'integrate' folks like us. Do you even have any idea of the irony of your use of that particular word? I think not.
But that's fine. You and yours just go on and ignore folks like me and mine. At some point we will tire of voting for you simply by default. We may not be able to bring ourselves to vote for the other guys, but if we can no longer support you as a party, I think you just might miss us a bit more than you think when we're gone. Unless, of course, luck-of-the-draw near-lame governing 'majorities' are really what you're shootin' for.
I, for one, could care less about Kamala Harris's job performance.
There was a time when Vice Presidents had only 2 jobs. 1.) They presided over the Senate--- a task originally entailing daily presence in the chamber and not just to cast tie-breaking votes. 2.) to succeed the President in the event of "the unthinkable." That was it.
That is why most politicians considered the Vice Presidency as a dead end office. Throughout our history few Vice Presidents were drawn from the pool of people who actively sought to be President.
I agree with the notion that Veeps should be seen and not heard.
The only relevant question about Vice President Harris is can she adequately fill the office of President if needed until the next election? Having survived 4 years of the malevolent Trump administration I think the answer is clear. The Republic survived the Presidency of Andrew Johnson. And FDR didn't have enough confidence in Truman to let him know about the nuclear bomb.
So Kamala is ready enough for prime time and hopefully will never be required to do so.
The Bill Lueders piece was delightful.
Thanks for the C.S. Lewis piece. Big fan. His writing has steadied my life navigation rudder repeatedly.
It sounds like "Talia" is so locked into her ideological bubble she cannot perceive reality. The reason Cory Bush is in Congress is because she represents an overwhelming D district in St. Louis. The last polling I saw indicated she might not even win her primary.
As for "Mike", I guess women and people of color cannot be honestly criticized even if their performance is poor.