Friday, December 3, 2021

Republicans Won't, But Democrats Should, Try to Defuse the Culture Wars

My latest at The Liberal Patriot!
"It’s not exactly a secret the Republicans are running hard against the Democrats on sociocultural issues like crime, immigration, ideology in the schools and cancel culture. Their strategy is to combine attacks on these perceived vulnerabilities with an indictment of Democrats’ failure to return normalcy to the economy and thoroughly contain the pandemic. The goal is to paint a picture of the Democrats as an incompetent party distracted by secondary issues out of step with normal voters.
The Democrats’ standard response to Republican sociocultural attacks is to insist that the problem areas identified by the GOP aren’t really problems. They are fake issues cynically pumped up by right wing media to scare voters who would otherwise be responding favorably to the Democrats’ superior performance and policy ideas. The apotheosis of this was Terry McAuliffe’s robotic pronouncement of voter concern about schools in the Virginia gubernatorial contest as responding to “racist dog whistles”.
This seems unlikely to work....
Unmuddling the Democratic story starts with defusing the culture war issues that give so much credence to the Republican claim that Democrats are out of touch with the concerns of ordinary voters and prevent Democrats themselves from focusing attention where it is most needed. This may strike many Democrats as terribly unfair; why should Democrats try to do this when GOP attacks are so cynically motivated and so many in their own ranks are guilty of holding truly reactionary and extreme cultural views?
This may not be “fair” in some sense. But it is necessary because it is Republicans who benefit from the endless battle over these issues, not Democrats. Democrats are not on strong ground when they have to defend views that appear wobbly on rising violent crime, surging immigration at the border and non-meritocratic, race-essentialist approaches to education. They would be on much stronger ground if they became identified with an inclusive nationalism that emphasizes what Americans have in common and their right not just to economic prosperity but to public safety, secure borders and a world-class but non-ideological education for their children.
Republicans would continue their attacks of course but they would land with less force, allowing—and perhaps forcing—Democrats to sharpen their focus on voters’ primary concerns like the economy. That is probably the very last thing Republicans would want Democrats to do—and therefore the very thing that Democrats should be doing."
Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot. And subscribe--it's free!

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