News & Politics

New York Times Contributor Wajahat Ali Says He 'Tried' to Reach Trump Supporters

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

New York Times contributor Wajahat Ali wants everyone to know it is not worth your time to reach out to Trump supporters. He’s really tried. But now, he has given up. And if you have a problem with that, you’re likely a racist. That’s an interesting thing to say about approximately 73 million Americans. But some hefty portion of that number already knows the corporate media hates, mocks, and denigrates them. So, this attitude is hardly surprising.

Especially when you see the last time Ali was “reaching out” to Trump voters. Here he is with Don Lemon and Lincoln Project loser Rick Wilson yucking it up about “boomer rubes,” who think Trump voters can’t find foreign countries on a map or read:

Anyone who views these men as “elite” needs to improve their self-esteem. Two of them work for media outlets whose sole purpose is to oppose President Trump. Trump so thoroughly rejected the other one that he started a pure grift operation that took money from Democrats to exert influence over a supposed base of Republicans that they didn’t actually have.

In his latest opinion piece, Ali begins with several flawed premises. First, he notes a majority of minority voters voted for Joe Biden.

The majority of people of color rejected his [President Trump’s] cruelty and vulgarity. But along with others who voted for Joe Biden, we are now being lectured by a chorus of voices including Pete Buttigieg and Ian Bremmer, to “reach out” to Trump voters and “empathize” with their pain.”

While this is technically correct, Ali missed the trend. President Trump scored significant increases in every minority group, including flipping several majority Hispanic counties in Texas from blue to red. He garnered a larger share of all minority votes than any Republican presidential candidate since 1960. His largest loss, at 5%, was among white males. It is likely what will cost him the election.

Ali also takes a leap of logic by declaring that Muslim Americans who vote for Trump want to be accepted as white:

I’ve even tried and failed to have productive conversations with Muslims who voted for Mr. Trump. Some love him for the tax cuts. Others listen only to Fox News, say “both sides” are the same, or believe he hasn’t bombed Muslim countries. (They’re wrong.) Many believe they are the “good immigrants,” as they chase whiteness and run away from Blackness, all the way to the suburbs. I can’t make people realize they have Black and brown skin and will never be accepted as white.

Engaging in the American dream of improving your financial position and providing a better life for your family is not “chasing whiteness.” It is taking advantage of all this country has to offer, working hard, and making choices about where you want to live. People have come from all over the world for economic and social freedom and are not running away from their own heritage to take advantage of it.

Many other assertions in the piece should be combated, such as the claim that there were “peaceful” BLM protestors outside the McCloskey’s house in St. Louis. However, to debunk them all would be an essay.

Ali makes the primary point, and it is an assumption that runs through his entire article. Reaching Trump voters requires them to relinquish their support for his policies. And you must accept Ali’s progressive point of view:

Just as in 2016, I don’t need Trump supporters to be humiliated to feel great again. I want them to have health insurance, decent-paying jobs and security for their family. I do not want them to suffer, but I also refuse to spend any more time trying to understand and help the architects of my oppression.

I will move forward along with the majority who want progress, equality and justice for all Americans. If Trump supporters decide they want the same, they can always reach out to me. They know where to find me. Ahead of them.

Trump voters are the architects of oppression for a New York Times contributor who went to law school and gets paid to speak. Sure they are. Ali is missing something that Republican strategist Brad Todd clearly understands. Todd also talked to far more Trump supporters than Ali likely ever has and literally wrote the book on them. After Election Day, he said:

“Democrats always argued, ‘If more people voted, we would win,’” says GOP strategist Brad Todd, co-author of The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics. “Well, guess what? Everybody voted, and it didn’t help the Democrats. There is a multi-racial, working-class ethos that is animating the new Republican coalition.”

We are in a class struggle, not a race struggle. That is what President Trump actually represented. A free and democratic society cannot succeed without a vibrant, successful middle and working class. That segment of society has been hollowed out by trade policy under both parties nationwide since the early 1990s and in progressive states like California and New York. Progressive policies create a two-tiered society of the very poor and the wealthy and well-connected. It can be seen in our own country.

Who will be hurt most by energy policies that increase the price of energy? The working-class family with two cars, two jobs, and a couple of kids. The family farmer. The suburban father who has a long commute.

What segment of society will be hurt the most if Trump’s Tax Cut and Jobs Act is repealed? Small business owners, the working-class, and middle managers as businesses cut jobs and expenses when their tax burden increases. These policy effects happen without regard to race, religion, or gender. A broader share of the electorate recognizes that.

This is happening because President Trump was the first to take a different trade and foreign policy approach in a few decades. That rising tide lifted all boats with the first real wage gains for the lowest 50% of wage earners in decades. An astounding 56% of Americans said they were better off today than they were four years ago in a Gallup poll taken during the pandemic. Many of them voted in their own economic interests.

The other fundamental miss Ali makes is that the argument is about the goal rather than the means by which to achieve it. I would challenge him to find a mainstream Republican who does not want progress, equality, and justice for all. Most believe the way we achieve those things is with maximum freedom for the individual and economic freedom.

Rather than dumping money in failing public schools, they advocate school choice. So do many black and brown parents. Rather than government subsidies for green technologies, they believe in private innovation. Equality under the law and justice should be blind. There has always been a valid policy argument over the level of government involvement in the economy and our other institutions.

However, with progressives, the debate is about fundamentally transforming our institutions. This is not a legitimate debate. One side wants American ideals and the American dream, and the other side wants something else completely.  After two years of Biden’s progressive agenda, the Left may be surprised at how many voters wake up to this fundamental debate. And the Left may be surprised by the “blunt objects” these voters send to represent them in Washington, D.C., in 2022 and beyond.

On some level, Ali knows this. The people who work with their hands and their backs, the people who solve real-world problems daily will demand a seat at the table. That is why he wants to head it off at the pass:

Don’t waste your time reaching out to Trump voters as I did. Instead, invest your time organizing your community, registering new voters and supporting candidates who reflect progressive values that uplift everyone, not just those who wear MAGA hats, in local and state elections. Work also to protect Americans against lies and conspiracy theories churned out by the right-wing media and political ecosystem. One step would be to continue pressuring social media giants like Twitter and Facebook to deplatform hatemongers, such as Steve Bannon, and censor disinformation. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.

Ali wants to shut you up and shut you down using the tech oligarchs. And that is just a start. I think he’s got his work cut out for him. A coalition of 73 million that believes in the promise of America and the singular freedoms our system provides is not going to go away quietly. No matter how much he might believe he can wish us into the cornfield.

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