Why Democrats Lost and Will Keep Losing Elections


            Why, Democrats have been asking, do so many poor white people vote for a Republican Party that doesn’t care about or do anything for them? The most common reply is: Democrats are snobby coastal elites who talk down to them. Classic example, courtesy of Obama: “They [voters in the Rust Belt] get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

            Democrats know their arrogance pisses off the working-class whites they need to win national elections. Yet they persist.

Every day sees some op-ed Ivy-educated columnist opining that voting for Trump means you’re a Klansman and another DNC-fed talking head pontificating about the masklessness at the president’s rallies with the bloated tone of a Roman tribune announcing stunning news that no one had ever heard before.

            Now the Democrats are at it again, setting the stage for yet another surprise loss. Because, yes, they just lost again. When you expect a “blue wave,” when you’re running against a president who lost hundreds of thousands of citizens and tens of millions of jobs the year of the election, when you expected to pick up tons of seats in the House and take back the Senate, and none of that happens and you just barely win the presidency in a squeaker, you basically got your ass kicked.

            Humility is in order. But it’s not on the menu.

            “You chose hope and unity, decency, science and, yes, truth … you ushered in a new day for America,” Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris told attendees at her victory party. And the 73 million Americans who voted for Trump? By inference they must have voted for hopelessness and division, indecency, superstition and, yes, lies.

            Biden had a similar message in his last pre-election closer. “This is our opportunity to leave the dark, angry politics of the last four years behind us,” Biden said. “To choose hope over fear, unity over division, science over fiction. I believe it’s time to unite the country, to come together as a nation.” Biden won. But 73 million people voted for those “dark, angry politics of the last four years.” Those voters thought Trump offered them more hope than Biden. They didn’t want to unify under the Democrats.

            We all have to live together in one country until there’s a second Civil War. We don’t have to think the same or look the same. But in order to function as a society we do have to understand one another. Liberals do not get Republicans or understand where they’re coming from. They don’t even care. Until that attitude changes, Democrats will keep losing elections they ought to have won and will find it impossible to achieve tolerance from half the populace, much less consensus.

            I’m a leftist. But I called the 2016 election for Trump early that year, not because I’m smart but because I’m from Dayton, Ohio. I watched my hometown devolve from an industrial powerhouse into a Rust Belt hellscape that eventually became Ground Zero for hopelessness and urban decay in the national opioid epidemic. International competition was inevitable. But deindustrialization powered by job-killing free trade agreements like NAFTA and the WTO was federal policy dreamed up by Republicans and enacted into legislation by Democrats like Bill Clinton—and that’s how American politicians killed places like Dayton in the industrial Midwest and across the country.

            My blood boiled when Democrats admitted that NAFTA would kill American jobs but, hey, new jobs in Mexico would open new markets for American goods. Such an idiotic argument. After the factories closed in America, who would sell stuff to Mexico? China. But my rage paled next to those of men and women who lost six-figure salaries and wound up working as Walmart greeters—all because Democrats like Clinton were funded by contributions from corporations that wanted to sell to American consumers without hiring American workers in order to fatten their profits.

            Years passed. More factories shut down. The long-term unemployed went on disability. Those who could find jobs worked for tiny fractions of their previous pay. Tax revenues shrunk. Infrastructure crumbled. Cities entered their death spirals.

            No one cared except the people who lived there.

            Deindustrialization never became a political issue. Republicans and Democrats agreed that free trade was a good thing. The New York-based press ignored the rot and the misery in the country’s heartland. Only two politicians on the national scene acknowledged it: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. After the Democrats kneecapped Sanders, that left Trump as the only candidate who understood that the part of America that let working people send their kids to college had been pretty great but no longer was. He didn’t offer a credible reindustrialization policy. As president, he didn’t do much beyond provoke a trade war with China to address the issue. But he acknowledged the Rust Belt and for the people who lived there so long, ignored and dismissed and derided, that was enough.

            Democrats still don’t get it.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Political Suicide: The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)



  • alex_the_tired
    November 18, 2020 1:18 PM

    So let’s recap. Um, Biden’s president. The Senate, barring a miracle, will be Republican 52-48. The House? 223-212 to the Centrist Party, probably. Biden’s programs, so far, are either evasions or insufficient. That will continue. Don’t hope for meaningful stimulus packages to help the downtrodden. Out of work? After six months, your resume will automatically be deleted/ignored by the machines. God help you all, you are on your own. Welfare? Clinton took care of that. You’ll find starving preferable to how you’re spoken to (and the caliber of thing that does that speaking). I fully expect the stock market to do well because the DJIA is artficially designed to always go up.
    Two years from now? I’d guess a 60+ Republican Senate, and somewhere like 260 Republicans in the House. God help us, Trump might run from prison, like LaRouche.

  • here’s my college roommate’s take on this column(who lives in rust belt Rochester, NY:
    This is pretty well-written but still doesn’t grasp the entirety of the problem the Democrats have…it’s not just the disappearing jobs in the so-called rust belt. Some people have memories and remember the government watching China dump its steel below cost and not saving the industry. To me, Biden was a full participant in the chicanery that sold out the middle class for decades.

    I think the bigger problem is that to be a Democrat or on the far left you have to accept a vision of America as a country of despair, discrimination, unrelenting racial strife, in short to constantly participate in maligning the country. I’m a patriot, I love my country. I watch people beating at our borders to get in to this country!

  • According to a poll I saw recently, the majority of Democrats have a negative view of the US while the majority of Republicans have a positive one. I think people are rejecting the Dem’s vision since by simple observation they see people of all races succeeding in the US. Everyone knows if you’re willing to work for it here you’re going to have a pretty nice life. Who wants to identify with the party of misery?

    I think Biden’s going to be a crap president. I really question why the media likes him so much…I don’t find him terribly likeable. One thing I’m certain of, Biden would never have won without millions of unsolicited ballots being mailed out. So in a sense, Trump was right about that.

    • (continued from my friend’s comment, I am not claiming her writing)

      • There’s a lot of truth in what your friend/roommate wrote, though it’s a little bit nitpicky. The government not doing anything to protect the steel industry from Japanese dumping in the 1980s is on a par, and exactly equivalent to the deindustrialization policy that I described in my column. In 800 words I can’t really mention every single example. Having been to a Walmart fairly recently, I would say that the “asset protection“ employees still function very much like the old-fashioned greeters and anyway, I was referring to people who lost their jobs back in the 1980s and 1990s when they really were greeters.

  • continued:
    Also, why this common refrain about “poor” whites voting against their interests? From where I sit, Trump’s tax cuts put a lot of money back in people’s pockets. Mine gave me about another paycheck for the year, which was nice since my more expensive property taxes are due in the spring.

    Lastly, the tiresome trope about Walmart “greeters”…why is this always trotted out as the job of the disadvantaged? Can someone please tell Ted Rall and others of his ilk that Walmart doesn’t have greeters anymore and hasn’t for several years. Those people at the door? They’re part of the asset protection team and have security licenses.

    You know, I work with people at Walmart who have 500-700K in their 401k’s. I bet that might surprise some of the condescending elitists 🤑

    • alex_the_tired
      November 19, 2020 8:31 AM

      A couple of points, No.
      First. “I’m a patriot, I love my country.” I’m calling shenanigans on that. The people who equate “patriotism” whatever that means in practice, with love of country are usually whispering in my ear while their fingers are going up my dress. If you’re floating in the North Atlantic, you’ll climb onto a floating door. If you’re on a door floating in the middle of the North Atlantic, you’ll climb up into a life boat. That other countries are terrible doesn’t mean this one isn’t as well. I deserve better than “not quite as hellish as elsewhere.”
      Second. Trump’s tax cuts giving you more money was nice? Then you mention that your property taxes went up? Do you see the contradiction? Thank heavens I got more money so that I could pay more taxes. The reason you’re paying more taxes is because the very rich are paying less. Remember that hedge fund billionaire who paid all the studen loans for the graduating class of Morehouse College? Do the math. It was a rounding error for him to do that. It was exactly on par with you picking up the tab for a night of drinking with a few friends. He just took a plea bargain for tax evasion. I bet he paid less in property taxes than you will. And the pretend liberals and the black-identity politics followers still point to this as an example of something admirable. I call it obscene. Still.
      Third. The Walmart greeters. I get yelled at for this. When Obama was president, a certain acquaintance of mine would gloat about how the economy added 143,000 jobs (or whatever) in the latest month. “What kind of jobs?” I’d ask. “Were these full-time, benefit-laden jobs, or was it Walmart greeter spots?” And the acquaintance would become furious. Because I’d punctured his widdle wiberal bubble by pointing out that a minimum wage job that keeps you four inches outside of poverty is sucktastic, I was wrong. Whether they’re “security” or minwage drones isn’t the point. No one takes a job as a rent-a-cop because, golly, that was their heartdream. They take it because there are no better options. And all this nitpicking bullshit has to stop.
      It isn’t us vs. the libs. It isn’t us vs. the conservatives, the Republicans, the Klingons or any other group. It’s us vs. the greedy rapacious assholes who game the system to have us foot the bill for everything while simultaneously slashing away anything that isn’t absolutely essential to keeping us all toiling all the way up to our graves.
      As has been said, “Anyone who’s not fighting with you, is fighting against you.” And when I run the list in my head? Reagan wasn’t fighting with me, nor was Bush, Clinton, Cheney, Obama, or Trump. My expectation that Biden will fight for me is the same.
      The people who can’t undertstand this? I simply can’t take any more time to try to convince. Keep bringing up all those minwage jobs, guys, keep picking those nits, but stay out of my way. Because we don’t have single-payer healthcare, we don’t have secure job fronts, we don’t have a guarantee of retirement with dignity, we don’t have a whole lot of things. But the rich pieces of shit like Zuckerberg, Dorsey, etc., they have the finest of everything and all the politicians on speed dial. I have no more patience for the simpletons who think Obama was great because he was black. He was black AND he was a goddamned asshole who murdered foreigners, just like all the previous presidents for decades. Either pay attention to that and acknowledge it as a dealbreaker or SHUT up. (I don’t mean “No” when I type that. No is making interesting contributions. I mean the idiot-types at the NYTimes. That ilk.)
      (Now, off to moderation.)

      • Yes and now these voters complain about being talked down to by us college educated liberals, which I can sort of see, but then how are you supposed to point out flaws in their thinking. Conservative Dem congresswoman Stotkin from Michigan said Dems need to appeal to emotions rather than rattle off facts.

  • After losing in 2016, the Democrats pointed out that it was not just the Trump voters who were unspeakably evil, but everyone who did not vote early and often for St Hillary, the best candidate for president the US has ever had running against the very worst candidate who became the very worst president, and the fault lies on all those who failed to vote early and often for St Hillary, all of whom were and are unspeakably evil, and we can only hope they will see the wickedness of their ways and agree to do the right thing in all future elections. The DNC works for its paymasters, but those are the best paymasters, and everything the DNC does is Good and Great, so only the most wicked would fail to vote early and often for a straight Democrat ticket.
    And ain’t nothing and nobody who will ever convince a single member of the DNC that there might be the teeniest flaw in that analysis.

    • I’m still having nightsweats that, um, Biden’s gonna appoint Hillary to some department in his cabinet. Is graft still available? Or did he give that to Hunter?

      • More than enough graft to go around for both Hillary Diane and Robert Hunter, Alex ; thank you for your concern….


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