Home Economic Issues Critiquing Democratic Responses To the 2016 Election– Part I, The Problem Lies...

Critiquing Democratic Responses To the 2016 Election– Part I, The Problem Lies With Working-Class Voters Themselves


I. The Idea that the Problem Was the Democrats’ Abandonment of the White Working Class

OK. No doubt there’s some truth to this. No doubt, the less educated white working class has reasons to be dissatisfied with their economic condition and their economic prospects, and no doubt the Democratic Party could do a better job of communicating with such Americans and of addressing their dissatisfactions. No doubt, all this is worth addressing.

But let’s not sidetrack ourselves into thinking that this is the main problem that accounts for all the white working-class voters who went for Trump and for Republicans down ballot.

Think of it this way: however much the Democrats have moved away from their previous staunch defense of the working class, they are still clearly so far and away better than the GOP at looking out for the interests of average Americans that no working-class voter, with his/her head screwed on straight, who was motivated by concerns over their declining economic situation, should have considered even for a moment voting for the Republicans.

• Which party has looked out for making sure they got health-care coverage? (And which opposed it?)
• Which party has called for raising the minimum wage. (And which has opposed it?)
• Which party tried to extend unemployment benefits during the Great Recession? (And which tried to cut them short?)
• Which party works to insure the rights of workers to organize and to bargain collectively with employers? (And which has systematically undermined those rights?)

Is there a single issue, bearing on the economic interests of the white working class, on which the Republicans have been the better champion of those interests? I can’t think of a single one.

All of which means this: however much Democrats should boost their advocacy for working-class Americans, and however much they should improve their ways of selling themselves to such voters, the main problem here lies with the voters themselves.

The problem is whatever led them to turn to the people who so demonstrably, so obviously, have not had their interests at heart.

So clearly: Being way better than the Republicans didn’t do the trick for the Democrats, so it follows that being even more dramatically better isn’t the key to turning things around.

What most urgently needs to be addressed is whatever it is in the way these voters were thinking and feeling that could lead them to vote for a Party — the GOP — that has consistently shown itself to be the agent of the very plutocratic forces that have stacked the deck against average working Americans.

And as for Trump, much the same applies: as President Obama so eloquently argued on so many occasions during the campaign, it made no sense to think that Trump — with his long history conning working people — would be the champion of working Americans.

With Trump, there is this additional factor: the man had a long and much-publicized history of scamming people, of breaking agreements, etc.

So the question again focuses on the nature of the thought processes and reigning passions of the working-class voters who voted for Trump: what in the hell could make them think that a man with Trump’s history of conning people wouldn’t prove to be just conning them as well?

And now, of course, with his appointment of all these plutocrats, the great Trump con of the election of 2016 is coming into ever-clearer focus.

So whatever the problems in the Democratic Party in relation to the white working class, the really serious/big/blatant problem lies with those working class voters themselves.

  • Interesting article by Matthew Yglesias at Vox (“The 3 different things we talk about when we talk about ‘Trump voters'”). Yglesias argues:

    …there are basically three separate groups of people who it’s interesting to talk about. There are the Donald Trump superfans who helped him win the primary, there are the ordinary Republican Party loyalists who made up the bulk of his voters, and there are the marginal Trump voters who put him over the top.

    Numerically, the Republican loyalists are the biggest group. Sociologically, the Trump die-hards are the most fascinating — the ones who tell us things about how American society is changing. But in electoral terms, it’s the marginal Trump voters who are the most important. And there’s no reason to believe they have much in common with the die-hards. In fact, there’s considerable reason to believe they’re not Trump supporters at all.

    …There’s no particular need to find a magic formula to lift the scales from the eyes of Trump’s biggest supporters or to shatter his stranglehold and Republican Party loyalists. Democrats don’t necessarily need to convince a single Trump fan to stop liking him. What they need to do is find a way to convince the people who don’t like Trump to support their nominee instead.

  • Southern Liberal

    This article from the Atlantic nails it. Trump voters didn’t want a multi-ethnic social democracy. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/12/hillary-clinton-working-class/509477/

  • Quizzical

    So while we don’t “write off” Trump’s blue collar supporters, we should not waste any more time and energy either trying to convert them or calling them names or trying to analyze them. We should instead focus doggedly on our issues, and organize to work around the roadblocks that the Trump administration is going to throw up. What else?

    • Quizzical

      Oh yeah, we should have confidence that on the issues and the character of our candidate, we had the far better part of the debate, and stick to our guns.

  • Elaine Owens

    Let me just pose one scenario to explain this election: I’m riffing off a stand-up show Michael Moore did prior to the general election in the Midwest. He jokingly said we had 8 years of an African-Amrican president and now it looked like there would be a woman president. Then, mocking his audience a bit, he said, “What’s next after that? The gay president? And, after that, the transgender president?” In other words, he was picking up on something he sensed in the electorate in the Midwest, a place where the economy hasn’t recovered and where people seemed to be looking for scapegoats to explain their own inability to regain their feeling of, I hate to say it, “white privilege,” specifically “white male privilege.” I agree that Trump voters resent a multi-ethnic social democracy. Change is leaving them behind.

  • Logic

    I think there has to be one clearly agreed upon basic premise for a debate like this to even take place and expect to get anything approaching a logical, objective, reasoned product from it. That premise is this – if your argument is not generous enough to give the people voting for Trump (and Republicans) agency, then you are not thinking in a way that can reveal a truth about the reality of people who voted for Trump and for Republicans.

    What do I mean by that, long post follows …

    Here are arguments that do NOT acknowledge people’s basic agency when voting Republican.

    1) They vote Republican because they are being misled. This takes many forms – they are misled by the Koch Brothers, by FoxNews, by “fake news”, by talk radio, or whatever evil force is out there trying to use them as pawns in some evil game. This argument boils down to this – voters are too stupid, or too naive, or ignorant, to know they are being lied to. This argument has the advantage of being able to say that the voters, themselves, aren’t necessarily evil.

    2) They vote Republican because they are stupid. This is a more direct path than the one above, skipping the entire misleading force and jumping straight to people just being too stupid to know better. To believe this you have to believe that somehow there are more Democratic smart people than there are Republican smart people, and since rural voters are more likely to vote Republican than their urban counterparts you essentially have to argue that somehow cities are filled with smarter people, that the distribution of IQ in this country somehow found its way to evolving city people to be smarter than rural people. Terrible argument, plays on rural stereotypes.

    3) They vote Republican because they are innately evil in some way. This argument takes many forms, but the most common forum these days seems to be that Republican voters are (A) racist, (B) misogynists, (C) xenophobic, (D) homophobic, (E) selfish, or some other moral failing or combination of some or all of the above. This argument is essentially that Democrats are simply more virtuous than Republicans, which again when you acknowledge that rural people are more likely to vote Republican is by extension saying that city people are more virtuous than rural people. Again, plays to a stereotype.

    4) They vote Republican because they are crazy. This argument is more often used against women who vote Republican, but it is also often used against the candidates for office or people who are Republicans who already hold office. The argument is basically that nobody could vote Republican unless they are in some way crazy, because voting Democrat or being a Democrat is so obviously the right choice that you’d have to be crazy not to do it. Again, by extension, this argument is essentially that rural people are crazy, and city people somehow have a lock on sanity.

    5) They vote Republican because they just don’t understand the Democratic message, it isn’t reaching them. This argument essentially is that Republican voters just haven’t heard the good word yet, that somehow they are out of reach of every bit of media on the planet, and haven’t heard the great positions that the Democratic party has. This is often linked with (1) above, that they public is being misled. This argument relies on somehow believing that after 100 years of progressive thought, that somehow half the country just hasn’t heard about it yet.

    There are other ways that people try to use rhetoric to strip Republican voters of agency, but those are a few of them.

    I think that if your argument relies on any of the above you are simply not seeing reality for what it is. Just as Democrats vote for Democrats for reasons, reasons that don’t just make sense to them, but that actually are in their own best interests, so too do people vote for Republicans. Rural and working poor people are voting for Republicans for actual REASONS, intelligent, well thought out, meaningful, reasons. The evidence for this is overwhelming – rural people vote for Republicans as a block almost as strongly as African Americans vote for Democrats. The more rural and removed from the cities people are, the more likely they are to vote Republican. To think that they are not doing this for reasons that actually benefit them is nonsensical, it flies in the face of basic reason.

    Until you can accept that people vote for Republicans for reasons that are legitimate, it is impossible to understand how the world is actually working, and it is equally impossible to understand why they aren’t voting for Democrats.

    Using the arguments above and not accepting this simple premise that people are voting for Republicans because it is in their own best interest causes rifts with reality that cannot be mended, and you could see that after this election. I’ll link to a video below where one of the members of the popular Young Turks show just basically loses it because she cannot understand how reality could be working the way that it is, and she uses most of the arguments above in an attempt to try to make sense of a world she cannot understand any other way. She literally has to call everyone who doesn’t agree with her stupid, etc, because in her own mind there’s simply no other way to explain what happened during the election of Trump.

    This video was obviously put together by someone who has a bone to pick with the Young Turks show, but the important thing here isn’t the music, or frankly how terrible what she says sounds, but listen instead to the actual argument and words she’s saying – she’s touching on almost every debate point above to explain in her own mind how a world can exist that includes women and men who vote for Trump.

    Language warning.


    • Andy Schmookler

      I’m sorry, Logic, but argument # 1 has been demonstrated to be substantially valid again and again. Quite recently in this piece — — which Lowell also linked to on Blue Virginia a few days back — with thetitle “Poll reveals Trump voters live in alternate state of reality.

      That poll shows that Trump voters believe that Trump voters believe a whole lot of things that are simply not true:

      “The stock market under President Obama soared. The Dow Jones
      Industrial average went from 7,949.09 to 19,614.91, again, up 11,665.72.
      In other words, it more than doubled. 39% of Trump voters think the
      stock market went down under Obama.

      “Unemployment dropped from 7.8% to 4.6% during the Obama
      administration. Clinton, Johnson, Stein and other voters are well aware
      of that fact.

      “But not Donald Trump voters; 67% of them believe unemployment rose under President Obama.

      “40% of Trump voters believe that Donald Trump won the popular vote.

      “60% of Trump voters believe that millions voted illegally for Clinton.

      “73% of Trump voters believe that George Soros paid Trump protesters.

      This is just the tip of an iceberg that’s been charted for years. (Studies have shown that viewers of Fox News know less about what’s going on than people who follow NO news sourtce.)

      Whether or not one cringes at the thought of depriving people of “agency” ought not determine our willingness to look clearly at what’s happened to much of the country over the past quarter century. There has been an expertly conducted propaganda campaign waged by the right, and the result is that a whole lot of people have a pervasively false picture of reality.

      Not all Trump voters, as the Vox piece that Lowell quotes below points out, are the same. Not all of them have bought into identical packages of false beliefs. But the role of false beliefs on the right is huge and has been huge for years.

      BTW, did you know that Hillary has been deeply involved in a big global sex-trafficking operation involving children? Did you know that immigrants have been pouring over our borders during these Obama years? Did you know that crime has been at all-time highs in recent years? Did you know that Obama was born in Kenya? Did you know that Obama has been on an out-of-control spending spree? Did you know that most white people who are murdered are killed by blacks?

      That list could go on for pages?

      • Logic

        I think you’re really missing what’s going on here.

        Instead of arguing your points (your points about my points), I’m going to take one of them and go off on a tangent with it – you mention the stock market doubling, and a poll showing that a large percentage of voters don’t know that happened under Obama.

        I said above I think we need to accept the premise that people have agency in order to understand all of this. Along those lines, what if the stock market doubling isn’t even what most of these voters want to happen ? Has anyone polled that ? I mean seriously think about that for a second. If you’re a poor person in West Virginia working on a sheep farm, what good does the stock market going up do for you ? You don’t have a 401-k plan, you don’t have an IRA, you barely have enough money to keep your car running so you can get back to work tomorrow and put food on the table. On some level, maybe a lot of these people actually wish the stock market would crash so their labor would be worth something again. As it is, with the markets being as high as they are and all of that wealth being owned by a small group of people, the 1% for lack of a better term, maybe on some intuitive level these people know they are getting screwed over by all that money, and maybe they look at that and associate it with the Democratic party. What if they voted for Trump because they thought he’d defend them against Wall Street, and it isn’t that they don’t agree with Democrats on issues of race (for example) but rather that they just want to see Wall Street get knocked for a loop more than anything Democrats are talking about.

        I’m not saying what I just wrote above is true, what I do know, I just made that up, my point is I think it’s wrong to write Republican voters off with any of these arguments, that they are too stupid to know better, are being misled, etc, when there are real reasons they are voting Republican, reasons that can be discovered and understood. I think it is lazy to say they don’t know what they are doing, I think its a way of avoiding taking a hard look at what’s going on and really trying to understand it. It’s much easier to just dismiss them as being crazy, stupid, etc, and not have to figure out what’s actually going on.

        I think to not acknowledge this simple premise that people are voting for Republicans for reasons that make sense is harming the Democratic party and its ability to win elections.

        • Quizzical

          The stock market is an interesting example, because the stock market, like the election, is the aggregate of millions of decisions, on both sides of the trades. Information is the crucial component of these decisions, just like it is in an election. It is odd that we have strict laws about using information to manipulate stock prices and against using insider information to get an unfair advantage in the stock market, but no such rules in a political election.

          Regardless, other than as part of an investigation to assign blame and to identify wrongdoing, does it make any sense to try to figure out why the results of the Nov. 8 election were for Trump, any more than to try to guess why a particular stock traded at a particular price that day? The stock market has moved on, and the political world has moved on, and it really doesn’t matter any more why people acted as they did on Nov 8. Everybody has different information now.

          I am not saying an investigation would be worthless, I am just saying that an investigation would require facts that we don’t have, and it wouldn’t change the results of Nov 8.

          In the end, as Bill Clinton likes to say, people are pretty smart and they will figure it out. If Trump was a bad decision, they will figure it out for themselves.

          • Logic

            I don’t agree with this. Would you say that it is pointless for someone who lives in a rural area to try to understand where someone from the inner city is coming from, that they shouldn’t bother because inner city people have too many variables in their lives and there’s no way someone from a rural area could ever understand what motivates them ? I mean if that’s where we are in in politics I don’t want to play anymore, because we are doomed to a lifelong war of identity politics with no hope of finding common ground.

          • Quizzical

            Again, I am not saying an investigation would be worthless for all purposes. Nor am I saying that there is no way to understand our fellow citizens. I am just saying that an investigation would require facts that we don’t have. Maybe the Democratic Party has enough data. All we can go on here, as far as I can see, is anecdotal information, and conjecture. And since time is marching on, and since new information comes to us each day, we are now dealing with hindsight. So now, for example, a retrospective look at the rationale for a Trump vote will be with the knowledge of whom he has chosen for his cabinet.

            Trump lost Virginia. Are Trump voters in Virginia scratching their heads and agonizing over how best to open a dialog about the reasons why? Not as far as I know. Common sense says you don’t get cooperation from people by constant gnawing over a decision made in the past. Rather, we have to accept that we are where we are, and figure out the best next steps.

        • Andy Schmookler

          Three things to Logic round 2:

          1) The stock market bit was part of the quote re the Pew poll, and is there simply to illustrate belief in propositions that are factually false.

          2) I never say these voters are stupid. In my piece published here yesterday I do say that a big chunk of the GOP voters are socialized into a culture that teaches them to turn off their critical intelligence in some domains vital to the interest of the ruling powers over their communities.

          3) Are you claiming that these voters have good economic reasons to vote Republican, and would you argue against the notion that the Republican Party has been consistently — and clearly — more antagonistic to the economic interests of these voters than the Democratic Party?

          • Logic

            1) I understand that, I said I was going off on a tangent with it, I knew it had nothing to do with the point you were making.

            2) Frankly, and I mean this with respect, it sounds like a fancy way of saying they are stupid. Another way people say Republicans are stupid is by saying Democrats (and thus city people by extension since they make up the bulk of Democratic voters) are better educated and that rural people are just ignorant, another slight of hand to call them stupid without actually saying they’re stupid. It’s all basically a way of saying that whoever is speaking is in a better position to understand the world, and that in turn becomes an easy way to basically disregard whatever the other person in saying without even having to examine it.

            3) Am I claiming these voters have good economic reasons for voting Republican ? I’m saying that they are voting Republican for reasons that not only make sense to them, but that serve their interests, and that those reasons can be understood as they are intuitively by people who grow up in those cultures. I’m saying the Democratic party is, in my opinion (though I think I might be able to defend it with some facts) using the arguments I outlined in my initial post above as a way of dehumanizing and delegitmizing people who vote for Republicans, and that this negatively affects Democrats ability to understand why these people are casting votes they way that they are. You mention their culture and socialization, and I’m saying that I believe that people who support the Democratic party have themselves become socialized into a culture that holds false beliefs about people who do not agree with them, and that these false beliefs are affecting Democrats ability to perceive reality about the working poor and rural people. I am essentially saying that I think Democrats have lost touch, and that they are using these arguments and others I outlined above to make sense of a part of the world that they no longer understand

          • Logic

            I’ll give you a concrete example of what I’m talking about, a policy position.

            Rural voters use firearms for a variety of reasons, one of which is hunting, it is a very popular sport. They sense that Democrats are against them on a variety of firearm related issues, and for the most part they are right, it just isn’t something that is important to urban people, and in fact frightens urban people because most urban people only have experience with firearms in the context of gun violence. It just isn’t part of urban culture to use firearms, so their perception is colored by their own experience.

            Now I’m not trying to start a debate about whether guns are good or bad here, I’m just saying the above for context so I can make a point now.

            One issue rural people have an opinion on is suppressors, many would call them silencers, it is something that has been taking off in the firearms world. In 2015 alone gun suppressor related checks went up 38%, it is a sale that is controlled with a significant tax that many rural people find hard to pay, and they also don’t like the paperwork involved. To this end there has been some legislation to take suppressors off of the books so that they are easier to purchase and don’t require this tax, essentially making them easier to acquire.

            Democrats, I believe, would fight against this policy of easing restrictions on suppressor sales – because guns. Anything gun related is essentially fought against as almost a knee jerk reaction, and I think its done as much as a snub in the culture wars as it is as a practical matter.

            Examine this policy in any meaningful way and you discover that overseas, contrary to what we do in this country, in many places suppressors are REQUIRED for hunters, because it keeps the noise down during hunting season. In rural areas during hunting season there is the constant boom of firearms in the distance, and overseas people just don’t like that, so they require suppressors on all hunting rifles to stop it.

            Another advantage to suppressors is that they are good for the ears. Many of the rifles that are used for sports are extremely loud, and hearing protection must be worn, but hunters don’t like that, that’s part of why they like suppressors, it allows them to use firearms without hearing protection, or less bulky hearing protection. Using some of these firearms with large cartridges is so loud it literally causes the ears to ring and hurt without hearing protection and quickly damages hearing.

            This is an easy win for Democrats if they supported this policy. Think how rural voters would react to finding out that Democrats were supporting making firearm suppressors easier and less expensive to obtain. There is also no downside to it, suppressors are not used in crime, they are large devices that make guns too big to conceal and they also (despite what Hollywood would have you think) do NOT make guns “silent”. Hollywood portrays suppressors as making guns hush quiet, but the reality is that they are still very loud with a suppressor, just not loud enough to cause as much harm to hearing.

            If Democrats understood rural people and their motivations, understood what a policy position like this means to rural voters, and could use something like this to reach out to them then it would increase votes for the Democratic party. There is no reason to make enemies of rural people on an issue like this, it’s a common sense, easy win for Democrats that could garner a lot of good will.

            What I’m saying with my other posts, to get back to the point, is that because the Democratic party has been using so many of these arguments that people are voting Republican are stupid, evil, crazy, or etc, it is stopping debate on issues like this, it is making it difficult for Democrats to understand where the working poor and rural people are coming from, and these arguments are becoming a substitute for understanding. It’s so much easier to just say “it’s the NRA”, etc, and click the right buttons in Democrats minds, and the wrong buttons in rural people’s minds, and end up where we are now, locked in opposition with no hope of breaking through.

            Understanding what motivates voters to vote for the Republican party could give Democrats easy ways of reaching them, because once you’ve reached them with a policy position like making it easier to purchase suppressors they start listening to everything else you’re talking about. You stop being the party that stands in opposition to everything they care about, and start being the party that isn’t so “unreasonable” in their own minds, you start being the party that is “on their side” on issues they actually care about. Democrats do NOT understand an issue like this, they don’t understand that for a lot of rural people their firearm may be one of the most valuable possessions they own, and that hunting season may be the only vacation they ever get from their jobs. If Democrats actually tried to understand rural people they’d know that.

          • AFF

            I don’t know. One of the first, if not the first laws BO signed allowed concealed firearms into National Parks if the State had laws on the books allowing such.

            Yet, the “he’s gonna take mah gun” rhetoric continued without pause. Signing the law made sense in a practical way because why should someone get arrested for something they had legally right up until they crossed the imaginary line of a NP entrance?

            Ask the average gun hugger about Obama signing this law and you’ll hear crickets. I say it was good policy and bad politics to sign it as BO kinda ticked off his base who doesn’t want to go see Old Faithful while standing next to a redneck with a glock in his pocket while getting no credit from the gun nuts.

          • So true. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting to hear a coherent, serious argument for how any working-class person, rural voter, etc. could possibly be better off under Trump than they would have been under Clinton. I mean, it’s not even a close call. So why would they vote for Trump when it was wildly against their self interest in so many ways (economic, health, education, environmental – clean air/water, safe world to live in, you name it)???

          • Logic

            I just gave you an example of how they would be better off under Trump than Clinton. The example was suppressors on firearms.

            It isn’t in your list – economic, health, education, environmental, clean air/water, safe world to live in, you name it … because that’s YOUR LIST, not THEIR LIST. I mean that’s what I’m talking about here, not understanding where they are coming from. In their own minds an issue like suppressors is important, so they vote for the person they think will make it happen. The Democratic party doesn’t get to decide what is important to rural people, they can only figure out what’s important to them and address it in the way that they want it to be addressed. You would no doubt balk at Republicans lecturing African Americans that they don’t vote Republican even though Republicans care more about their unborn children being killed through abortion than Democrats do, why ? Because that’s a Republican party position on abortion, it has absolutely nothing to do with what African Americans are primarily concerned about, the only way to know what they are concerned about is to figure out what they actually care about, and address what they care about in the way that they want it to be addressed. That is acknowledging their agency – you don’t win any points by saying they are too dumb to vote for Republicans, too crazy, too evil, etc, because they don’t agree with your agenda.

            You actually have to empathize with them and care about what they want, and not just get mad that they don’t support what you care about and dismiss them.

          • I’m calling total b.s. on this; you’re seriously arguing that suppressors on guns is more important to people who live in rural areas than the economy/jobs? education for their kids? health care for their families? clean air/water? I’d love to see a poll on rural voters’ priorities; my guess is that all the things I’ve mentioned, also immigration and other issues they care deeply about, would rank very high, while suppressors on guns would probably be cited by a miniscule (<1%) number of people as their top issue (or even top 3 or 4 issues). Actually, here are some #s from Pew that show priorities for all voters, also broken out by Clinton or Trump voters. The top issues for Trump voters: the economy, terrorism, immigration, foreign policy, health care, etc. Note that "gun policy" is fairly high, but that almost certainly involves major issues like universal background checks or limits on certain types of guns or whatever. Also note that many polls have found overwhelming (80%+) support for universal background checks for gun purchases, even among Republicans..



          • Logic

            I’m not saying its more important than other issues, I’m saying that it an issue that they care about, and its an issue that is driving their votes. Of course they care about the economy, etc, but I didn’t want to get into that with you because then it’ll just degenerate into an argument about which economic policy is better or worse for rural people, and that’s a whole different discussion that has nothing to do with the point I’m making. I chose the suppressor policy issue because that’s something that is more clearly something that the Democratic party is at odds with rural people on, and something that demonstrates the point I’m making.

            That said, I do believe that rural people are voting their own best economic, educational, etc, interests, so if you want to go there we can go there. It’s going to turn into a debate about economic policy though and it will no longer be a discussion about the topic of this thread which is whether working class voters problems lie with themselves or if its a problem with the Democratic party.

          • “I do believe that rural people are voting their own best economic, educational, etc, interests, so if you want to go there we can go there”

            Evidence? I know of none.

          • Logic

            One of the best pieces of evidence is exactly the point we’re debating – that they are, in fact, actually voting for Republicans. To say they aren’t voting their own best interests when they vote Republican REQUIRES that you think they are crazy, stupid, uninformed, misled, etc, and that the problem is with working people and not the Democratic party. Because if you believe they are NOT voting their own interest, those are the only explanations left to you, they simply have to be living in a world that doesn’t make any sense.

            But think about that, if you believe that, you have to believe that half of this country is basically crazy. I mean that’s your argument, right ? That you are right, and that the people who disagree with you is just too stupid, crazy, etc, to know what’s good for them.

            Think about what you have to buy into to believe that.

            For example, you have to believe that a party that is made up of primarily urban voters knows better than rural people what’s good for rural people. I mean seriously, does anyone believe that ? Do you actually think that someone who has never lived on a farm knows better than a farmer what is in their best interests ? I mean wouldn’t you think it would require a fair amount of arrogance to believe that you know more about someone else’s life than they do ?

            If you want to debate a specific policy we can, like I said, but I think it’s just going to degenerate into a whole different topic.

          • Circular reasoning: people are voting in their self interests by voting for Party X because they wouldn’t vote for Party X if it weren’t in their self interest.

            Again, explain how Republican policies are better for rural (or any) voters than Democratic policies on health care, education, the economy, the environment, you name it. Heck, even on abortion, it turns out that Democratic policies – increased birth control, family planning, etc – LOWER the rate of abortion, while Republican policies INCREASE the rate of abortion. Religious freedom’s doing just fine after 8 years of a Dem President, as are gun right. So…still haven’t heard of a single policy by Republicans that would be better for rural voters (or any voters) than Democratic policies. Unless a warmongering autocracy that slashes Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid (which MANY rural people rely on) and massively redistributes income to the wealthiest individuals and corporations is in the interests of rural voters….(snark)

          • Logic

            Let me think about this and get back to you, I will start a discussion about a specific policy that Democrats support that is not in the interests of rural voters. I’d like time to consider it.

            I’m really not the best person to argue this, because I’m not an expert on policy or etc, but I’ll debate it with you. Another reason I chose the suppressor issue is because I am familiar with where a lot of rural people stand on that issue.

            That said, I don’t think you have to go down this road to see and understand the point I’m making, I think its a valid point, and I think a reasonable person would agree. And again, to reiterate the point I’ve argued up to this point – I think you have to accept as a basic premise that people who choose to vote Republican are acting in their own interests in order to understand what’s going on, to see reality for what it is.

          • “people who choose to vote Republican are acting in their own interests”

            They may very well think they are acting in their own interests, but there is zero evidence (at least that I’m aware of) that this is actually the case – on the economy, health care, education, infrastructure, environment, or just about any other area (even including abortion, which would go DOWN with Dem/progressive policies of expanded access to family planning services, among others).

          • For anyone who thinks that Dems haven’t done a TON for rural people, working-class whites, etc.


          • Trump voters also favor almost all provisions of “Obamacare,” as long as you don’t call it “Obamacare,” a word which has been demonized by the right-wing hate machine.


  • I was going to ask you to please take what I am about to say as well-intentioned and in no way intending to be insulting or disparaging. But, on second thought, don’t. It is well-intentioned, but of course it is disparaging.

    Reading this post and most of the comments, I get the same feeling as when I see guys trying to mansplain something to a woman about what is in her best interest. Or when I see somebody, well-intentioned also, trying to whitesplain to an inner city black person.

    I don’t get the sense that any of you know actual white working class people from the rust belt. I could be wrong about that, but it is a best guess. Anyway, I do. I work with a lot of them everyday, albeit the ones I work with are mostly union leaders and so are personally a bit more affluent and well read than those they represent. But they came from the those rust belt white working class people and the best of them never lost touch with them.

    The first point I want to make is that people who don’t know jack about what they are talking about frequently assume the white working class is the same thing as the white rural voter. They are not. They overlap. But they are not the same.

    Most white rural voters who live on farms or work around farming and in the small agrarian towns have been Republican for generations. They voted for Trump and other GOP candidates because their main issues really are God, guns, and gays, and abortion. All was. We have won other elections without them. We will again. They just are not our voter. But they are voting their interests. They just are more interested in issues that have little to do with the economy or their own material well-being.

    That is not true of the working class voters who live in small cities and industrial towns and who use to make good money in the mines and factories. They vote mostly their economic interest. When they worked and belonged to a union, they usually voted the way their local leaders and shop stewards told them to because their interest was a strong union to defend them and keeping their good paying jobs. When their factories closed, btw, their unions also went away. So they no longer have that guidance or that union hall where they could organize.

    Those good union jobs went away long ago. No, they are not coming back. But nothing replaced them. The training that was supposed to be part of NAFTA and other trade deals either never materialized or, worse, did come but didn’t retrain people for jobs that were available. That’s because nothing else moved into their towns to replace the factory.

    I believe in something in science known as the law of parsimony, or Occam’s Razor. It says the simplest explanation that accounts for and explains all the data is usually the best explanation. So, to take a leaf from James Carville, back in the 90s, when Clintons knew how to win the white working class: It’s the economy, stupid. More, It’s the trade deals, stupid.

    Even as Hillary Clinton was walking back her support for TPP, which she once had called the “Gold Standard” many Democrats in Congress were voting in favor of fast track. During the entire campaign, Obama was still attempting to get TPP passed. Don’t you think people got the cognitive dissonance? TPP only died when both Trump and Clinton disavowed it. The problem was, more of the people in the rust belt believed him rather than her. That’s because her message was constantly being undermined by the actions in Washington. And trade matters.

    Even more important, Trump’s rise is not just an American phenomenon. We Americans can be very insular, narrow focusing on just what is going on in our own backyards to explain things that are actually part of a worldwide movement. And a very scary one.

    Trump’s brand of demagogic populism is on the march across Western Europe. It’s the same sentiment that led to the Brexit vote, the defeat of Matteo Renzi and his referendum in Italy, is bringing Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France closer than anybody thought to power. Fortunately, it was defeated in Austria, but for a while it looked like an actual Nazi party was about to win there.

    Across the Western Hemisphere, from Europe to the U.S. there is a segment of working people who have been left behind and ignored by the global elites. And they are furious enough to want to burn everything down. Attention must be paid.

    It must be paid and real reforms must be made. Personally, we need to listen to the Elizabeth Warrens and Sherrod Browns and Tim Ryans. They not only have some answers, they have the street cred with a lot of those people, who by the way faithfully voted Democratic until just this year. Again, these are not the rural white voters who have been voting Republican since Reagan. These are the working class people who voted twice for Obama. Who split tickets to vote for Trump and then Tim Ryan in the Mahoning Valley. We can still win them back. But not by ignoring their real grievances and living in an ivory tower along the beltway.