WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28, 2021
Carville discusses Our Town: Is James Carville right about every point?
There's a good chance he isn't! That said, his interview with Sean Illing at Vox is crowded with food for thought.
In reviewing that interview, we'd start with a basic point. Our Town has a hard time grasping the following point. Here's what Carville said:
CARVILLE (4/27/21): We won the White House against a world-historical buffoon. And we came within 42,000 votes of losing. We lost congressional seats. We didn’t pick up state legislatures.
Those are painful observations, but they're extremely right on. They're tied to other observations Carville made about our political system.
The observations which follow are blindingly obvious. But, despite the brilliance we tend to attribute to ourselves, we sometimes have a very hard time getting clear on what they mean:
CARVILLE: If Democrats want power, they have to win in a country where 18 percent of the population controls 52 percent of the Senate seats. That’s a fact. That’s not changing. That’s what this whole damn thing is about.
Here’s the deal: No matter how you look at the map, the only way Democrats can hold power is to build on their coalition, and that will have to include more rural white voters from across the country. Democrats are never going to win a majority of these voters. That’s the reality. But the difference between getting beat 80 to 20 and [getting beat] 72 to 28 is all the difference in the world.
So they just have to lose by less—that's all.
At present, fundamental structures of our political system tilt the playing field against liberal voters and against liberal coalitions.
That includes the system of "Senate math" to which Carville refers. It also includes the current arrangement in which Democrats produce massive amounts of "wasted votes" in such states as California and New York.
Because of the "wasted vote" phenomenon, Biden won the national popular vote by more than 7 million votes, but came within those 42,000 votes of losing the electoral college to Trump. These are the basic realities of the situation we face.
Here in Our Town, we have a hard time getting clear on the meaning of these facts. According to Carville, those unfortunate facts mean that Democrats have to seek votes among rural whites.
As we all know, rural whites are lesser beings. But we have to seek votes among them.
In those parts of the interview, Carville sketches out the basic facts of our political dilemma. In other parts of the interview, he describes the ways he thinks we fail to win elections in the face of those facts.
Carville goes hard on our alleged problems with "wokeness" and "faculty lounge politics." We actually think he misses one key point about the latter phenomenon:
ILLING: What do you make of Biden’s first 100 days?
CARVILLE: Honestly, if we’re just talking about Biden, it’s very difficult to find something to complain about. And to me his biggest attribute is that he’s not into “faculty lounge” politics.
ILLING: “Faculty lounge” politics?
CARVILLE: You ever get the sense that people in faculty lounges in fancy colleges use a different language than ordinary people? They come up with a word like “Latinx” that no one else uses. Or they use a phrase like “communities of color.” I don’t know anyone who speaks like that. I don’t know anyone who lives in a “community of color.” I know lots of white and Black and brown people and they all live in ... neighborhoods.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these phrases. But this is not how people talk. This is not how voters talk. And doing it anyway is a signal that you’re talking one language and the people you want to vote for you are speaking another language. This stuff is harmless in one sense, but in another sense it’s not.
Different people will have different ideas about different phrases. For ourselves, we hate the "faculty lounge" formulation in which our elites now refer to "black bodies" as opposed to "black people."
The preciosity of the locution pretty much speaks for itself. It seems especially odd to speak that way, given the fact that it was long part of "the world the slaveholders made" to claim that this particular group of people weren't really people at all.
Why would anyone talk that way? Here's what Carville may have missed:
The adoption of such private language is done to signal membership in elites. If you speak that way, you're in the club. As Carville notes, you're also alienating other people who don't talk like that.
Other people don't talk like that in their various "spaces." They may think you're weird when you do.
Concerning the alleged problem of "wokeness," Carville offers this:
CARVILLE: Look at Florida. You now have Democrats saying Florida is a lost cause. Really? In 2018 in Florida, giving felons the right to vote got 64 percent. In 2020, a $15 minimum wage, which we have no chance of passing [federally], got 67 percent. Has anyone in the Democratic Party said maybe there’s nothing wrong with the state of Florida? Maybe the problem is the kind of campaigns we’re running?
If you gave me an environment in which the majority of voters wanted to expand the franchise to felons and raise the minimum wage, I should be able to win that. It’s certainly not a political environment I’m destined to lose in. But in Miami-Dade, all they talked about was "defunding the police" and Kamala Harris being the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate. And if you look all across the Rio Grande Valley, we lost all kinds of solidly blue voters. And the faculty lounge bullshit is a big part of it.
As comment sections make clear, Our Town is full of people who can't understand why "defund the police" was such a tone-deaf slogan. There's really nothing you can do to help a person like that, and Our Town is full of such tone-deaf, self-assured persons.
One final point. Carville also offered these potentially dueling claims:
CARVILLE: Wokeness is a problem and everyone knows it. It’s hard to talk to anybody today—and I talk to lots of people in the Democratic Party—who doesn’t say this. But they don’t want to say it out loud.
People always say to me, “Why don’t Democrats just lie like Republicans?” Because if they did, our voters wouldn’t stand for it.
Are there really lots of people who "don't want to say it out loud?" We're going to guess that there are.
Way back when, Keith Olbermann was gleefully misogynizing, on a regular basis, with his smutty pal, Michael Musto. We wrote about it for years, marveling at the fact that other liberals weren't saying a word about it.
Then the transcripts of that private JournoList site were leaked. It turned out that our brave progressives were discussing Olbermann's "misogyny." They just wouldn't do so in public.
We'll guess that Our Town is crawling with people like that, and that there are all sorts of things these careerists aren't saying out loud. Meanwhile, "our voters wouldn't stand for lying?" Did Carville actually say that?
Our voters often don't know when they're being deceived or misled. In that way, our voters are much like theirs.
At present, our voters are being misled about race in various ways. But they don't know that they're being misled, and they seem fairly happy with it.
They're being misled by the stars of Our Town. We tend to adore the big stars of Our Town, just as they do Over There.