Voters Are Not Mind Readers

Following up on yesterday’s postCharles Pierce wrote,

Today’s installment of our continuing series, People With Whom I Empathize But Do Not Understand, comes to us from the small town of Mexico, in Maine, courtesy of The Portland Press-Herald. …

Leo Grassette gave 41 years to the Rumford mill. He’s 80 now and still works part time at the Mexico Trading Post. He doesn’t have a career to worry about. If the mill closes and takes with it all the jobs, it won’t affect him. His pension is safe. But Grassette and his wife of 57 years have children and grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. In the 15 presidential elections held since he began voting, Grassette had never voted for a Republican. That changed last week. Like many, he felt Clinton was dishonest but it was more than that. She talked more about why Trump was bad than about why she was good. “Democrats used to be for the working class,” Grassette said. “I don’t feel that anymore.”

There is one party that wants to privatize Leo’s Social Security and one that does not. There is one party that wants to hand him a worthless voucher and call it Medicare and one that does not. There is one party that at least tepidly supports organized labor through which Leo got his pension, and there is one party that does not. There is one party that wants to keep Leo’s pension out of the hands of hedge fund cowboys and Wall Street thieves, and one that wants to hijack Leo’s pension into the casino economy.

How, I wonder, are the Democrats no longer “for the working class,” and why doesn’t Leo feel that anymore?

Because most non-college-educated  voters don’t know that Republicans plan to privatize Social Security. Most don’t know that Republicans want to privatize Medicare. Most don’t understand what how the loss of organized labor has hurt all working people.

And that’s because nobody bleeping tells them.

Indeed, if you were to walk up to a standard red state voter and tell him that Republicans are planning to gut Medicare and Social Security, they probably wouldn’t believe you. Republicans like to tell voters that they are the ones who are going to protect Social Security and Medicare from those goofy liberals. However, somehow, they’ve got it in their heads that the Democrats are the party in thrall to Wall Street and the Republicans aren’t. Having Hillary Clinton as the party’s standard bearer didn’t exactly correct that misunderstanding.

For at least 30 years the U.S. has needed an ideologically progressive, left-wing party to counter the Republicans, which have become an ideologically conservative, right-wing party. We’ve needed a party that would champion progressive economic populism and working people, and which would get blue-collar folks enthusiastic about progressive policy proposals instead of allowing right-wing hegemony to go unchallenged in all but urban and liberal coastal circles. We also needed a party that appreciated how much our younger people are being exploited instead of encouraged by the system.

And we needed a party that knows how to take the fight to the Right. We need a party that won’t negotiate with itself out of fear of what the Right will do. That approach doesn’t work.

Maybe now, if we can move the centrist/neoliberal/Clintonite/DLC crew out of the way,  we’ve got a chance at building that party.

20 thoughts on “Voters Are Not Mind Readers

  1. A spy has intercepted intelligence from behind the new iron curtain.  It is in some sort of strange code but preliminary experts suggest that the honeymoon with the president elect may be having rocky times.  I will insert it here in unencrypted form with a mandatory (sic):

    “I hope Im wrong im a Trump fan but stand your ground! You talk with obummer one time know Im not holding Killary for her crimes there nice people! Obummer care well will see some we wanna keep!! Really sounds like your folding!! Rember your promises dont fold we are the people wjo voted for you by your word no fences a wall!!”

    File this for reference as if pamphlets are dropped they need to be in the native language. 

  2. No matter what messayges the Democrats come up with, we can trust our “liberally biased” media to botch them by accepting conservative memes, and then “both’sides doing it’/he said-she saiding” them.

    Maybe t-RUMP will be such and epic disaster that if we survive, our media might finally stop doing that.
    Yeah, right!
    See: Bush, George W..
    The media learned NOTHING from the worst presidency in generations – if not in the history of the US.

    Still, we have to try, or we won’t even have a chance to succeed.

  3. Nobody bleeping told them in 2004 that the Republicans wanted to privatize Social Security, but the instant that W floated the idea right after his second inauguration in 2005, they by golly noticed. Same thing will happen this time once Trump takes the first steps in that direction.

  4. Well, we’re about to see how well Medicare stands up. TPM is watching closely. Most of the Republicans have already voted for the repeal once, but Obama vetoed it. This is going to be interesting.

  5. IMO, the Trump won the election on a slogan and it wasn’t “Make America Great Again”. It was “Drain the Swamp”. While I think a lot of voters are doubtful Trump can/will address corruption, even democrats who were for HRC admit she was on a first-name basis with all the swamp critters over 8 feet in length. This was the perception among the 10 million democrats who did vote for Obama,and didn’t show up for Clinton.

    I’m not faulting Maha’s analysis – had democrats pursued an issues-based outreach program targeting angry conservatives in the rust belt, enough of them might have suppressed the impulse to puke and voted for Clinton despite her cozy relationship with the dark side.

    This election was about the rejection of conventional establishment candidates. The precipitous drop in turnout says something not recorded in exit polls – the effect of voters who flat quit. HRC is in the same club as JEB who couldn’t pay voters enough to turn out for him. Trump may pull off the amazing feat of making even George W look good by comparison, a seep-sea dive into the sewer I never wanted to take.

    I highly endorse that we start talking to – instead of talking down to – the conservative leaning independent voters about issues. However an educational outreach is pointless if the democratic establishment puts up reliably corrupt pro-money candidates who only have a social-issues game because on the corporate side of their ass, there’s a tattoo that says “Bought & Paid For”. And I know that Maha gets that, too.

  6. this cat this Donald trump
    retching, vomiting, contorting
    the most foulest of hairballs
    the cabinet of the orange foolius
    imagine the chunks
    as they form, and congeal
    some may turn into Sarah Palin
    the horror, the absolute horror
    an Alien facehugger,
    on the whole nation
    we are in some real pretty shit
    game over, man, game over
    I can see, Ashe gurgling, smiling
    the Alien, is coming for us all
    it didn’t burst from our chest
    we let him in, through the front door
    they mostly come at night, mostly
    we thought it was a stand up fight
    turns out, it was a Bug Hunt!
    Clinton was afraid of bugs
    she wouldn’t get in the sewer
    trump eats bugs, hell all reptiles do
    now we got an orange shit stain
    on the Constitution
    paranoia, wait and see
    yep, I’m gonna be as civil
    as the right, was to Obama
    if we have any chance at all
    we will have to fight
    like Newt and Ripley
    keep these Alien facehuggers
    from strangling the whole nation
    and we don’t have Bishop
    crawling to our salvation
    they mostly come at night, mostly

  7. That is exactly what happened this afternoon. I went to have my hair cut and my hairdresser is and older very conservative white “family” guy. I know he loves D Trump and I usually don’t say much – because he has the scissors in his hands … but today I said to him “it looks like the upcoming Trump government will cut Medicare and Social Security in addition to Obamacare.” He answered “no way – Trump is for the little people, you must have heard wrong, he will never do that, he is for us.” I asked him if he had not heard that on the news? No, he said, he does not watch the news anyway, he only watches some 700 club – (whatever that is,) and they would have mentioned it, but “they” did not. It will take a while for such extremely gullible people to wake up to Trump’s deals.

  8. I don’t think we have one newspaper or one broadcast network to represent our position to “Middle America.” The Republicans have nearly all of them. This is bizarre situation. There are Democrats and like-minded independents all over the country, just not enough turn out at election time. It’s pathetic.

    Air America Radio operated from 2004-2010. It wasn’t terribly successful. They made a lot of mistakes. They did some good anyway, but we can learn from their mistakes and do better. Maybe one key is to have as much “local” talent as possible, not just bi-coastal types.

    There needs to be a Democratic radio network directed to the needs and interests and participation of the so-called flyover states rather than mainly big liberal enclaves. If the Democratic Party reorients itself, which I hope is finally happening, the message needs to get out to the whole country.

  9. “The idea now that we in media need to do a better job of understanding what those cheering Trump’s vile rhetoric really want, or who they truly are, is utter nonsense. We know exactly who they are and what they want. They’ve made that abundantly clear. To talk around this point is to normalize behavior that as human beings, let alone citizens of this country, we should never accept as normal.:
    I don’t give a rats ass what these sorry ignorant brain dead zombies want, If I can see a pile of steaming crap for the past year and a half, others can too. I can read. Others can too. As Trump said , he could go out to times square and shoot someone and they would still adore him and make excuses for him.
    Trump voters: Stupid is as stupid does.

  10. Doug,
    “I highly endorse that we start talking to – instead of talking down to – the conservative leaning independent voters about issues.” *

    I wish that was true.
    It used to be. I, like you and maha, am old enough to remember they days when you could have some good-natured arguments, and then after points had been made, amiably agree to disagree, and go on to either do what you were there to do, or go home.

    But that horse left the barn, left the farm, got caught, and is being held to be turned into cat & dog food for seniors, once Paul “Privatizin'” Ryan ‘does that voodoo, that he wants to do, so well’:
    Which will be to cut, reshape, and privatize as many societal safety nets as he can get away with.
    Let’s see if the other Republicans/conservative oppose him, or, fall in line, and work to eliminate/privatize the programs they’ve need dreaming of since the New Deal and The Great Society.

    *A couple of weeks ago, I was out just sitting in my car by the Hudson River at our local Metro-North station, just enjoying the beautiful weather.
    I was parked next to a big pick-up truck.
    Well, the guy comes out, looks his truck over, and I jokingly said to him, “No, I didn’t make any dents or scratches.”
    He laughed.
    We talked for a while about this and that, having a nice conversation, when the talk turned to conservatism v. liberal.
    And he assumed that big, shaved headed me, was a conservative, and started spouting talking points.
    I let him make his points. And then, I said, “Well you make a lot of points, but I don’t agree with all of them, and let me tell you why…”
    He looked at me, and said, “So, you’re a liberal?”
    I said, “Yup. Flaming!”, and smiled.
    He got in his truck without another word, and drove off.

    Now, you tell me how, outside of lying and saying that I was a conservative, I was going to try to continue the conversation, when this guy just left, not even wanting to engage?
    They don’t want to hear anything outside of their bubble, because they’re afraid it’ll burst their bubble, because they know its skin is very thin, and can’t hold-up to any facts, logic, math, etc…

  11. How many people buy the latest useless weight loss gimmick, their desperation to get fit outweighing any reason? I don’t, but I’ve sure been tempted. Hope and fear are pretty strong that way.

    We shouldn’t wait for the homeboy tri-lams to arrive in our fight against the alpha betas. Aren’t there lessons from the past when liberals were the strong ones?

  12. Well Bill,
    I’d argue for the pre and post American Revolutionary era – yes, even John Adams – ending, pretty much with Jackson.
    Then, Lincoln and the post Civil War era for a brief period – until the weaker post-Grant Presidents let the South slide backwards into virtual slavery.
    Teddy Rooselt, then a slide backwards.
    And finally, from FDR through LBJ, until Nixon slithered into the Oval Office.
    As for Bill Clinton? Yeah, a bit.
    And now, Obama – who for two years got more “liberal” things done, since anyone since LBJ. Especially, on Obamacare and thengay marriage.
    t-RUMP is the blow-back because of Obama, our first black POTUS, and racial resentment – and econonomic, as well. People around the country didn’t feel he did things fast enough and well enough post-“Baby Doc” Bush’s disasterous presidency and the near-complete economic collapse – never mind that the Republicans did their damnest to obstruct EVERY move he and the Democrats tried to do.

    Them’s my $0.02 worth.

  13. Bill,
    Upon furher reflection,I’ll take Bill and Barack off of that list because, while conservatism is no longer ascendant, it was still strong enough in their/our era’s to, if no longer dominate, at least be strong enough to NOT let liberalism ascend.
    As t-RUMP would say, “Sad…”

  14. Doug- Thanks for posting that clip. I couldn’t agree more with the points made therein. The title of a recent article by Jamielle Bouie on Slate was “There Is No Such Thing As A Good Trump Voter”. A perfect example of why we lost. As Jon Stewart has said, we cannot excoriate people for stereotyping by gender, race, etc., and then turn around and stereotype “Trump voters” as if they were all identical.

    • Let us not assume that “Trump voters” are a simple category of anthropomorphic specimen. I’m sure there is a spectrum of Trump voters, from wildly enthusiastic to those who weren’t crazy about him but didn’t see a better alternative (sorta like Clinton voters).

  15. In everything that I have seen, the election was lost by the Democrats because this country is an extremely misogynistic country (and that includes way too many women). Too many Americans did not want the leader of the free world to be a woman. Sexism has played a definitive role in my entire life, dictating to me what I could and could not do. I can recognize it when I see it because of my lifetime experience. It used to be said that “we’ve come a long way, baby”. But, unfortunately, that long way was still a very short way and not even close to fully being completed. Additionally, if Bernie Sanders had been the candidate, I am sure his being Jewish would have been the topic of the election because America is still not ready to elect a Jewish President either.

  16. It’s the not seeing a better alternative that troubles me. As far as I’m concerned a vote for Trump was an endorsement of racism,misogyny, xenophobia and hate. Those were the main tools out of Trumps tool kit and anybody who could look past those divisive and corrosive qualities wasn’t serving the best interests of America.
    There is always going to be a class struggle between the haves and the have-nots and our system is too entrenched for either candidate to turn it on its head. So for me, there wasn’t much a of choice..I put aside any hope for positive change and voted to defend and uplift my country. And the values we should hold dear.
    Yeah, right..I really want a country whose leader advocates for torture. Nothing makes me feel more American than that.
    For what it’s worth coming from me.. Shame on you Trump voters. You’ve traded your birthright for a bowl of pottage!.. and you will reap of the seeds that Trump has sown whether you know it or not.

    It sounds like a little residual Cotton Mather coming out of me.. 🙂

  17. Where else but in this blog can you even see or read a form of the word anthropomorphism. To even have people who can understand at this level is a wealth that many never will be able to have or buy into.

  18. Thanks for posting that Jonathan Pie rant, Doug. It’s a real public service. The amazing thing is that on another site where it was posted,
    nearly all those who commented just absolutely didn’t get it.
    They didn’t seem to be able to factor in the little detail that “Jonathan Pie” loathes Trump, and that he is sure Sanders would have beaten him. The reason he’s angry at “The Left” (well, you know what he means, what The Right THINKS OF as The Left, anyway — is because of their absolute cluelessness and smug, holier-than-thou complacency. Their inability to put themselves in anyone else’s shoes west of the Hudson River. And then the commenters pile on and prove it.
    I hope you understand, aj, that when we refer to engaging Trump voters we are not talking about the white supremacists and mysoginists. We’re talking about the large number of Trump voters who actually used to be Obama voters and Sanders voters, We’re also talking about the large number of voters who didn’t bother to vote. We’re talking about all the voters who, if the Deomcrats had had a decent candidate and run a half-way intelligent campaign, wouldnot have voted for Tarump.

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