Democrats Take the Bait on Confederate Monuments After Charlottesville
Liberals and Democrats have widely criticized President Donald Trump and joined in the efforts to remove Confederate monuments following the events — and Trump's first remarks — in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. Polling and reporting suggest this might have been a huge mistake, however.
"I want them to talk about racism every day," Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon told the liberal magazine The American Prospect. "If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats."
Bannon's trust in "economic nationalism" might be overly optimistic, but polling backs up the idea that Democrats are falling into a trap on the issue of Confederate monuments.
According to an NPR/PBS News/Marist poll taken this month, a whopping 62 percent of Americans said "statues honoring leaders of the Confederacy" should "remain as a historical symbol." Only 27 percent said these statues should "be removed because they are offensive to some people," while 11 percent said they were unsure.
This does not mean Americans support white supremacy or the alt-right, however. A full 86 percent said they disagree with the white supremacy movement, while 73 percent said they disagree with white nationalists and 48 percent said they disagree with the alt-right (35 percent said they were unsure, suggesting Americans don't know a lot about the movement).
More Democrats supported removing the statues (47 percent) than keeping them (44 percent), but both Republicans and independents strongly favored preserving them. A whopping 86 percent of Republicans favored keeping the monuments, along with 61 percent of independents.
Interestingly, even African Americans favored keeping the statues (44 percent) over removing them (40 percent), while both whites (67 percent) and Latinos (65 percent) strongly supported keeping them.
Unsurprisingly, whites without a college degree — Trump's strongest base — fervently supported the statues, with 75 percent saying they should remain.
Only a few groups actually supported removing the statues more than preserving them, and each of these groups is firmly on the Left. Opponents of the statues include those who disapprove of Trump (47 percent for removing, 39 percent for preserving), those who identified as "very liberal" or "liberal" (57 percent for removing, 31 percent for preserving), and strong Democrats (57 percent for removing, 34 percent for preserving).
In other words, opposition to Confederate monuments is an unpopular position, held primarily and almost exclusively on the Left. It may unify Democrats against Trump, but it will also divide all other Americans against them.