Why Democrats Lost and Will Keep Losing Elections

Ohio

            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.)

 

Liberals Used to Feel Your Pain. Now They Inflict It.

Image result for limousine liberal

Liberals are supposed to feel other people’s pain. Now they seem more intent on inflicting it.

I noticed the de-empathification of the Democratic Party during the implementation of Obamacare. I lived in one of many counties with zero or one plan on offer. Low supply and high demand—hell, the ACA required you to buy one or get fined—allowed insurers to gouge patients with sky-high rates. The one plan in my county’s ACA sucked. It charged a $1400-per-month premium with a $10,000-a-year deductible—and featured no doctors within network within a 90-minute drive.

On Facebook I complained about the paucity of affordable plans in my online health insurance marketplace. “I don’t know what you’re going on about,” one of my friends snarked. “I found an excellent, affordable plan.”

My friend lives in Manhattan.

When I pointed out that residents of big cities like New York had far more competition than residents of more sparsely populated areas, he acted as if I hadn’t said anything, continuing to sing the praises of the ACA. “Obamacare is a Godsend for me,” he continued. “So many great options!”

This conversation-without-communication went on and on like that. It was like a variation of the old book “I’m OK, You’re OK.” Now it’s “I’m OK, You’re—Who Cares About You?”

People often ask me for political predictions. Many people I know are Democrats of the Third Way/DLC/Clinton variety and so were understandably upset when I told them I was sure Donald Trump would win. “I grew up in Dayton, Ohio,” I explained. “The major swing states in this election are full of hollowed-out depopulated deindustrialized Rust Belt cities like Dayton. Free trade agreements like NAFTA killed those cities and destroyed their residents’ quality of life and crushed their American Dream. Hillary and the Democrats supported that globalization garbage. Trump will win because he’s the only one who talks about their problems, the only one who acknowledges they exist, and Democrats are too obsessed with identitarian symbolism.”

“But Trump is an idiot,” they said.

“Not so much of an idiot that he said nice things about free trade,” I said, referring to Hillary Clinton.

“But he’s a bigot,” they continued.

“True,” I agreed. But these people desperate and angry and he’s the first presidential candidate to admit that free trade isn’t awesome. It’s a chance to send a message, a cri de coeur.”

The vacant disconnected look in my liberal friends’ eyes was every bit as dumbstruck as that of a MAGA supporter who realizing that big tax cut wasn’t for him. They weren’t from the Midwest, had never been to the Midwest, didn’t know anyone from the Midwest. The devastation and dysfunction I described—substance addiction, generation after generation on disability, systemic un- and underemployment, plunging housing prices, cash-starved local governments so unable to keep up with the mayhem that ODed corpses piled up at the morgue—was as foreign to them as a drone strike in Afghanistan.

Globalization was inevitable. Why didn’t those stupid Ohioans accept it?

Democrats like FDR used to look at dispossessed voters and see electoral opportunity, a chance to grow the party. Today’s liberals are poorer than Roosevelt yet more elitist; they see a bunch of irrelevant old white guys who ought to hurry up and die.

The latest case study is France’s “Yellow Vest” movement. For over a month angry motorists, many middle-aged men from rural and suburban areas of the country, have converged on cities like Paris to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s hike of the gas tax. As in Britain less populous areas have been left behind economically and neglected by the central government. People say they’re barely making it to the end of each month after paying rising bills on fixed incomes, and they’re pissed.

No doubt echoing their well-heeled counterparts in the 4ème arrondissement, my liberal Democratic friends were gobsmacked by France’s most violent Days of Rage since May 1968. “It’s a carbon tax,” one explained helpfully. “We have to reduce consumption of greenhouse gases.” Her attitude is typical: don’t those conservative hicks understand that the planet is dying?

True, we should reduce air pollution. (Though it’s probably too late to slow down climate change.) But a tax designed to reduce consumption only serves one purpose if consumers have no choice but to consume: to increase government revenue while making citizens miserable. Yellow Vesters who live in the sticks don’t have a mass transit alternative. They can’t carpool. They’ve got to drive and, with a carbon tax, they have to pay. No wonder they’re angry. Wouldn’t it make more sense to tax shareholders whose portfolios include stocks with big carbon footprints?

In the 1970s right-wing Republicans like Richard Nixon promoted the cliché of the “limousine liberal”: self-righteous, hypocritical, privileged and disconnected from Joe and Jane Sixpack. I don’t know if it was true then. It certainly is now.

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

 

We, Robots

Futurist science fiction author Lui Cixin predicts that artificial intelligence will put 90% or more of Americans out of work. Will politicians plan ahead for the coming end of work as we know it? Ha!

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