It sucks to be a Democrat right now. Not only have they been handed a crippling electoral defeat. It came at the hands of Donald Trump, which is humiliating if for no other reason than how much it irks them. For better or worse, Trump embodies everything the left hates; he’s a living caricature of how they view all Republicans. Losing to him has to hurt. Indeed, it has driven some to radically cut their hair and swear off love.
Clearly, if the Democrats want to regain some relevance, they need to spend some time evaluating what went wrong. To that end, a liberal politician has directed an “intervention” toward Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). Writing in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, John Gunyou offers three steps for recovery:
The first step is … admitting you have a problem. That’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Despite spending about twice as much as the other guys, Democrats lost the presidency, Congress, tacit control of the judiciary, and about seven out of every 10 state legislative chambers, including your Minnesota Senate bulwark.
Many reasons, of course. Republican Inc. has always been better than the Democrat Co-op at the cutthroat battleground tactics necessary to win elections. If they could sell the damaged merchandise at the top of their ticket this year, they pretty much proved they can sell anything.
Republicans should love that this is how Democrats are thinking. They spend twice as much, fail, and still blame that on the guys they outspent. Priceless.
Of course, it’s true that Donald Trump’s was a deeply flawed candidacy. If not for his many unforced errors, the victory for Republicans might have been more overwhelming. That said, omitted from Gunyou’s insight is any mention of their own damaged merchandise—Hillary Clinton.
Clinton was so bad at running for office that she lost in 2008 to an unknown amateur with a funny-sounding name. This year, she lost to a reality television star who tweets impulsively and was caught on video joking about sexual assault. She was horrible, and that was borne out in how the vote went down. The much-touted increase in minority votes for Trump over Romney was not due to actual voters switching sides, but to Democrat minorities staying home. It turns out they weren’t with her. If Democrats fail to own up to that, they will fail to learn the full lesson from 2016.
As he continues, Gunyou offers keener insight. It begins with a half-truth:
Republicans also capitalized on the mess you have made of critical services like health care, which you seem incapable of making work. Voters don’t want rationalizations — they just want the trains to run on time. You really need to shed the quaint, naive belief that voters are motivated by facts and logic, rather than emotional perceptions.
That last sentence goes off the rails. Indeed, voters were displeased with the mess Democrats made of health care. However, that displeasure was rooted in facts, like premiums increasing by double-digit percentages year after year since the passage of Obamacare. Presumably, the “emotional perceptions” Gunyou disdains include the tendency to blame the law for premium increases rather than evil insurance companies. But again, those are the facts. There’s nothing emotional about it. Companies exist to make money. If government makes that impossible without increased premiums, that’s not the companies’ fault.
From that wobbling start, Gunyou quickly gets back on point:
The second step of your recovery is to stop lecturing the proletariat…
Your electoral implosion was not driven by ignorant, racist, homophobic misogynists, and you need to let go of that morally smug meme if you ever want to regain the trust of middle-of-the-road D- and R-leaning voters.
While deplorables will always occupy a corner of the Republican tent, Democrats lost the country because you are tone-deaf to the perspectives of your rural and small-town fellow citizens, who justifiably feel ignored and left behind by the ruling order. It really is that simple.
While Republicans may hope that Democrats listen to Gunyou’s previous points, they should hope this one goes ignored, because it’s right on the money. Trump won, in large part, because Americans are sick and tired of being insulted for being Americans. They’re sick and tired of demands to apologize for being white, male, heterosexual, employed, educated, or otherwise “privileged.” They long to restore a culture in which American pride reigns. Democrats, at every level, have insulted and condescended to the voters. And the people have had enough.
Accordingly, the third step to recovery is to begin rebuilding the Democratic base. You’re pretty much starting from scratch, because there no longer is a DFL — only a D. The F’s [farmers] have been voting Republican for years. And while union and party bosses might remain joined at the hip, you are hanging onto actual L [labor] workers by a thread. If you have any doubts about that hard truth, stop preaching to the choir on social media, and read “Hillbilly Elegy.”
Again, Republicans should pray the Democrats ignore this. The good news is that they seem to be. The liberal intelligentsia seems content to retreat into their safe spaces and attribute the election to racism and homophobia. So long as that remains their focus, they will not recover. Elections cannot be won by campaigning against the voters.