WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2022
Commenter of the year: Earlier today, we read a very good answer to a very important if somewhat imperfect question.
The question came from Kevin Drum. Near the end of a longer discussion, the question went like this:
DRUM (1/31/22): So if Trump is as bad as we think—and he is—liberals should be aghast that a fair number of centrists hate us even more than they hate Trump. How can this be? It's unsurprising that Trump has a base, since both parties have a base that hates the other side with a passion. But in that middle ground, what is it about liberals that scares so many relatively moderate folks into voting against us even if it means voting for Trump or one of his spear carriers? And how have Republicans been so successful in demonizing us? Is it solely messaging? Certainly Fox News has a lot of influence. Or is it also related to our actual policy positions on emotionally-laden topics like immigration, guns, wokeness, and so forth?
On balance, we'd call that an extremely good question. For the record, that question makes a lot of assumptions which aren't necessarily so.
It assumes that there are a lot of "relatively moderate folks" who are willing to vote for Trump because they "hate us [liberals and Democrats] even more than they hate Trump."
It assumes there's something about liberals that scares those people into voting for Trump or his allies.
How many voters fit those descriptions? It's very hard to say. But Drum is asking a very good general question, and it boils down to this:
Why have so many people been willing to vote for Trump? In the immediate aftermath of Trump's presidency, why are so many people now willing to vote for his party?
Putting it a different way, why in the world can't we seem to blow these people away? We'll return to the statement made by the fictional "Michael Dukakis" on Saturday Night Live, concerning the fictional and highly inarticulate George H. W. Bush:
I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!
Back in 1988, the line was actually funny (click here, move to 7:15). By now, the line is tragic. That said, the implied question remains:
How can wonderful people like us be struggling to defeat Donald J. Trump and his party?
In theory, the best way to learn why people vote the way they do is to go out and ask them. In recent years, when major news orgs have tried to pose such questions to Trump voters, our tribe has risen up to insist that they should stop asking such questions.
Experts say that this is a classic form of tribal fright reaction. Whatever you do, don't speak to The Others! This is so-called Classic Avoidance Strategy, according to experts and scholars.
At any rate, Drum was asking a very important question as he neared the end of his post. Deep in comments, we thought he got an extremely good answer.
The mini-essay came from a software engineer who works for Google. We thought he captured some of the basic ways our tribe arranges to lose.
For ourselves, we'd start with this basic bit of political advice:
Stop insulting people! Stop telling people they're no damn good! Stop calling people names! Stop "otherizing" such wide swaths of voters and fellow citizens.
That would be the bit of advice with which we would start. We'd say that Drum's commenter echoed that sentiment a bit, then picked things up from there.
We thought he offered a sage critique. We'll show you his statement tomorrow.