To win back the allegiance of working-class Americans, Democrats should stake out a middle ground in the culture war and prioritize a New Deal-style economic agenda.
"the Republicans have an even more influential radical side whose propensities for violence and contempt for democracy outweigh the foibles of the Democrats’ cultural radicals."
From my perspective, despite being a lifelong Dem, the Republicans do not have a "greater propensity for violence" or more "contempt for democracy" than the cultural radicals with a chokehold on the Democratic party.
There is no democracy without Free Speech, and the Democrats have been far more aggressive in suppressing Free Speech than the GOP. Thanks to the Dems' cozy relationship with Silicon Valley they are in a much better position to censor opinions they don't like, and have not been shy about doing so (see: the Twitter Files).
It's the grossly irresponsible policies of Democrats that have led to an increase in crime in poor neighborhoods, which translates to more violence. There are also Democratic politicians like Rashida Tlaib promoting violent antisemitism on college campuses and emboldening terrorist groups like Hamas. Many female activists who dare to insist that women don't have penises have been physically attacked and threatened with physical and sexual violence for years, with zero pushback from the Dems. Incarcerated women have been raped after being forced to share prison space with intact males, thanks to Democratic policies. The weakness displayed by Biden when it comes to dealing with Afghanistan and Iran has emboldened Putin and Hamas, and probably China as well. So no, I do not think the GOP has a "greater propensity for violence" than the Dems.
When the Dems cut out the cancer of science denial about the material reality of biological sex; the cancer of protecting criminals at the expense of their victims; the cancer of promoting antisemitic harassment and terrorism; the cancer of suppressing speech that challenges "woke" dogma; the cancer of prioritizing the dignity and safety of gender dysphoric males over women and girls; the cancer of prioritizing the right to indoctrinate children with the "correct" beliefs over a parent's right to make decisions about what their small children are taught about sex and gender identity; the cancer of supporting the billion dollar Gender Industry instead of protecting children under 18 from sterilization and lifelong medical issues; and the cancer of promoting racial division over national unity; only then will I vote for the Dems again.
Until then, I will vote Independent or GOP.
Your essay is generally reasonable, but I think it reflects a distorted leftist view of the real electoral problems faced by Democrats. The problems of US society can be viewed as an economic struggle between the haves and have-nots, but this fails to explain why so many Americans loathe the contemporary Democratic party. As you suggest, Democratic theorists are often too blinded to recognize the nuggets of wisdom in critiques from e.g. Fox News. I suggest that THE electoral problem Democrats face is their Culture War extremism.
"Democrats were the principal supporters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965..."
Give me a break.
Both these measures passed with a much higher percentage of Republicans supporting them than Democrats.
The Civil Rights Act suffered a 24-hour filibuster by a Democrat. The Voting Rights Act had a 60 day filibuster by Al Gore (Sr.), Will Fulbright, and Robert Byrd. Any of those names sound familiar? They were all Democrats.
Without the strong support of Republicans neither measure would have passed.
So Democrats need to rally around the idea of an even more expansive government?
Let me provide simple numbers for you:
U.S. GDP: $23.2 trillion
U.S. national debt: $33.6 trillion
When debt exceeds GDP, you will spiral further and further into debt, unless:
1) The economic growth rate exceeds the market interest rate (highly unlikely, since the market rate is over 5% right now). This is a really basic mathematical reality.
2) You operate the govt. at a surplus (we're currently operating at a $1.7 trillion deficit, so we would have to eliminate the ENTIRE discretionary budget (1.7 trillion), just to break even. That means eliminate all of Housing, Education, Transportation -- EVERYTHING.
This isn't a partisan argument. It is just really basic math, which depressingly few people seem to understand these days.
My mother, God rest her soul, had this tendency to try and resolve conflicts between her kids by assigning equal blame to both. The problem with this approach was that the one guilty party not only got off light in punishment, but had the added return of seeing their rival punished. Over the long term this motivated more of the same behavior from the trouble-making kid, while also causing the more compliant kid to start misbehaving as there was no benefit for good behavior.
This is where we find ourselves today with respect to the "see, Republicans do it too!" tendency of media people still attempting to hold their membership in the elite liberal virtue signaling domain while also unloading with their epiphanies of rottenness within the Democrat agenda and Party.
While there is a minority of right extremists, there is a major tyranny of Democrat extremism raging through the county, in in fact the world. This attempt at party equivalency in extremism is not helpful, and in fact just encourages more extremism from the left as there is no downside to it.
When every two or four years, our political elites say condescendingly that they want to represent "common men and women", we should be skeptical. Political elites are far removed and isolated from the American public so they rely on third party intermediaries, usually expensive, to tell them what their electorate wants to hear.
Has anyone developed a "isolation index" to measure the distance between an elected official and the electorate? It would be interesting to know how that index has changed over the life of our constitutional democratic republic. I suspect that layers of staffing and bureaucracy between elected officials and the public have increased incomprehensively.
Also, elected officials or wannabes who talk about economic justice without acknowledging that the economy is global are not being truthful with the voters.
One of the problems with the left/right supposed parameters is that there is a refusal to recognize that these politically created boundaries are not logically airtight. People can favor some policies that are deemed left wing and some policies that are deemed right wing. A person can support same sex marriage and want lower taxes. Someone can also oppose same sex marriage and believe taxes should be higher. There is no internal contradiction in harboring such views simultaneously.
When I ran for the California Legislature in 1994, I was known primarily as an abortion rights activist. Yet, much of my campaign was based on a concern over undocumented immigration. This was not out of racial or ethnic prejudice, but because allowing anyone who enters our country unlawfully to automatically stay here, if offered to a sufficient number of people, could increase population growth and increase crowding, as we have seen in my state. One of my campaign slogans was: Stabilize California’s Population: Birth Control and Border Control.”
Many people thought that supporting the full range of family planning was inconsistent with opposing illegal immigration because one is considered a liberal view and the other a conservative one. This does not, of itself, establish a contradiction. In fact, for those who worry about overpopulation, family planing and curtailing the numbers of people who enter the United States unlawfully are actually consistent with each other. This is another example of how superficial the conservative/liberal divide can be.
When Democrats champion the freedoms that the religious right wants to destroy, they are the party of individual freedom. When religious right wing legal advocacy groups talk about “defending our freedoms” by stopping same sex marriage, it is clear the opposite was true. A person’s freedom is not damaged because same sex couples are living in their neighborhood. Yet, when as here in the Los Angeles area during the pandemic, landlords could not evict tenants for non payment of rent and had to carry them for more than three years, even though the landlord was receiving no income, it was Democrats who were encroaching on the property owners’ individual freedom to make a living. It would have been better for branches of government controlled by Democrats to provide direct subsidies to landlords during this time.
I believe a solution would be for Democrats to become more like Libertarians, but not all the way. Democrats should retain their liberalism on the separation of church and state issues. They should favor less taxation than the far left of the party does right now. However, they should still favor more taxation than most Libertarians and Republicans.
Democrats should emphasize negative liberties, the individual’s freedom from external imposition. However, government must still do more to assist people than most supporters of laissez-faire economics would condone. I believe the party should continue it’s social liberalism and moderate its tax and spend approach but still be to the left of standard Libertarian and Republican policies in this regard.
In this vein, one can be a supporter of equal rights and a true opponent of racism without supporting the recommendation in California to tax all non Black people to raise a total of $800 billion dollars for reparations for African American descendants of slaves who live in the state.
The notion of "shadow parties" that was introduced in this essay is very astute. Much of the gobbeldy-gook that passes for political thought on the left emanates from academia and is passed down to students who in turn disseminate this ideology to important sectors in business and government.
We must vigorously push back on this destructive tendency.