Democrats’ Restive Base is a Feature not a Bug
Sometimes you see these media analyses that are too smart by half that worry that the Democrats somehow face a problem in a fired up restive base. Is the base too angry? Is it sustainable? Sometimes you also hear that the base is just making conservatives support Trump more.
And there is no question that negative partisanship is a very real thing on the Right. You hear an awful lot these days from conservatives who say ‘I don’t like Trump all that much but I hate the liberals who are so excessive in hating him. They’re opposition to Trump is excessive. And this excessiveness is worse than anything Trump himself does.’
It’s amazing how many conservatives have gone from NeverTrump to NeverNeverTrump. Paul Waldman talks about these worried media narratives that in resisting Trump we’re doing more harm than good.
“Reporters who traveled to Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday for the first rally of President Trump’s re-election campaign—and let’s be honest, he deserved a break from all that presidenting he’s had to do for four whole weeks—found something shocking. A bunch of people who waited on line to see Donald Trump, it turns out, like Donald Trump and think he’s doing a great job.”
“This remarkable development was delivered in the form of breaking news, but we’ve also seen one story after another of late in which a journalist travels to some Trump stronghold to touch base with the people who voted for the president and reports back that they haven’t abandoned him yet. Alongside those are think pieces telling Democrats that if they want to climb out of their pit of electoral despair, they need to start being nicer to people who voted for Trump; in this glorious article in Sunday’s New York Times, for example, we hear from Trump voters complaining about how mean liberals are to them, including one young man lamenting how difficult things have gotten for him on Tinder. Apparently, single women are women are weirdly reluctant to hook up with men who supported a candidate who bragged about his ability to sexually assault women with impunity. Go figure.”
I think this was a problem with those who resisted Hitler as well: you know many sensible people in the Center were put off by how strident they were in opposing Hitler. Maybe if they’d spoken nicer about Hitler we could have avoided the Holocaust.
And as we speak our version of Hitler is going on cruel raids even raiding churches and hospitals to apprehend undocumented immigrants and send them to private prisons.
Here is the latest on Trump’s immigration raids.
Let’s just be clear-mass deportations are already happening.
As Waldman rightly says, having a fired up base is a feature not a bug, a blessing not a curse:
Right now, the Democrats’ constituents are feeling horrified, terrified, and generally pissed off. Which is just what produces the kind of midterm election they need.
“That’s because midterm elections are all about enthusiasm—which almost always means anger. It’s the reason the president’s party usually loses seats in midterm elections: because the people who are angry enough to increase their turnout are the ones who dislike the president. Turnout in recent midterms has been in the 30s, meaning that nearly two-thirds of voters decide to stay home when there’s no presidential race. So it’s all a question of which voters get to the polls.”
“That’s why right now, if Democrats want to win in 2018, they need to highlight the things that will get their own voters as worked up about Trump as possible: his scary appointees, his retrograde executive actions, his constant lies, his self-dealing and corruption, and the tremendous damage he and Republicans in Congress are preparing to do. In other words, Democrats need to be as partisan as possible, and forget about “reaching out.”
“And what about those approachable Trump voters, the ones who took a chance on him even if they had some doubts? The most important time to talk to them will be after the midterms are over. There’s a strong chance that by then, they’ll begin to realize that Trump didn’t fulfill the promises he made them. He didn’t bring back all the well-paying (and unionized!) jobs mining coal and making steel. He didn’t transform their communities back to the way they were decades ago. He didn’t convince China to give us back our jobs (not that Americans want to do most of the jobs Chinese factory workers do). He didn’t give us “so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with the winning.”
“If that happens, some of those voters will choose the Democrat in 2020—once again to try something different—and some of them may just stay home. It will be essential to make the argument that has worked in the past, and that Clinton didn’t emphasize as much as she should have, that for all the mayhem he creates Trump is working hard on behalf of moneyed interests, just like Republicans always do.”
“But in the meantime, Democrats need to encourage the kind of sustained passion, participation, and yes, anger that will give them a chance to win in 2018. Already there has been an organic outgrowth of grassroots energy on the left unlike anything we’ve seen in decades. Washington Democrats didn’t create it, and there’s only so much they can do to keep it going. But they can’t forget that it creates the best hope they have of taking back a house of Congress next year, which would enable them to minimize the damage Trump does. The “reaching out” can wait.”
Turns out when your voters are fired up and motivated it’s a good thing. Just like with the Tea Party during the Obama years.
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