March 25, 2017

Frank Rich was on AM Joy this morning, discussing his latest New York Magazine article, "No Sympathy for the Hillbilly." Definitely worth the click:

Perhaps it’s a smarter idea to just let the GOP own these intractable [Trump] voters. Liberals looking for a way to empathize with conservatives should endorse the core conservative belief in the importance of personal responsibility. Let Trump’s white working-class base take responsibility for its own votes — or in some cases failure to vote — and live with the election’s consequences. If, as polls tell us, many voters who vilify Obamacare haven’t yet figured out that it’s another name for the Affordable Care Act that’s benefiting them — or if they do know and still want the Trump alternative — then let them reap the consequences for voting against their own interests. That they will sabotage other needy Americans along with them is unavoidable in any case now — at least until voters stage an intervention in an election to come.

Trump voters should also be reminded that the elite of the party they’ve put in power is as dismissive of them as Democratic elites can be condescending. “Forget your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap,” Kevin Williamson wrote of the white working class in National Review. “The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible.” He was only saying in public what other Republicans like Mitt Romney say about the “47 percent” in private when they think only well-heeled donors are listening. Besides, if National Review says that their towns deserve to die, who are Democrats to stand in the way of Trump voters who used their ballots to commit assisted suicide?

So hold the empathy and hold on to the anger. If Trump delivers on his promises to the “poorly educated” despite all indications to the contrary, then good for them. Once again, all the Trump naysayers will be proved wrong. But if his administration crashes into an iceberg, leaving his base trapped in America’s steerage with no lifeboats, those who survive may at last be ready to burst out of their own bubble and listen to an alternative. Or not: Maybe, like Hochschild’s new friends in Louisiana’s oil country, they’ll keep voting against their own interests until the industrial poisons left unregulated by their favored politicians finish them off altogether. Either way, the best course for Democrats may be to respect their right to choose.

Frank's prescription for the Democratic Party seems to be, stop promoting Davos/Goldman Sachs economics, look after your own base, and grow the voting rolls you can depend upon.

RICH: The Democratic party has to speak to working class voters, White, Black, whomever, and do it better than they've been doing. I think both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have had ideas in that direction, but to go and pander to essentially fewer than 78,000 voters that determined this election, whereas in my view, sort of not a great candidacy by Hillary Clinton, still won the popular vote by 3 million? I think it just a fool's errand. And the claims of identity politics on the Democratic side by some Democrats? Is ridiculous.

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