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Posted by on Mar 14, 2017 in Blogs, Stars, Stripes, and Surprises | 1 comment

“Bluexit” – Summing up the Democratic Problem

“Bluexit” – Summing up the Democratic Problem

As a lifelong, committed Democrat, I don’t enjoy seeing my party in the state it is today, in control of no federal branch of government and marshalling an ever lower share of state legislative and senate seats. There’s a reason this is happening. The Democratic Party, the historic party of the people, has become complacent and out of touch. The evidence was clear during the campaign, and America feels its harrowing impacts each day.

Democrats consoled themselves for months before November; all the big data analysts at 538 and Huffington Post gave Hillary Clinton a 72% and a 98.2% chance respectively of winning the election, and the numbers were widely regarded as being infallible. In full disclosure, even I believed that Clinton would win, but not without modifying her strategy, which evidently didn’t occur. Hillary’s victory was some sort of demographic destiny. Blue state political analysts claimed that “there just aren’t enough angry white men.” For that matter, why take the advice of Bill Clinton, somebody who twice won a large part of the blue-collar vote, when you can just call middle America names instead? I mean of course, calling a large swath of the country “deplorable and irredeemable” wouldn’t be an issue, because it had to be true. After the comment, some warned that Clinton’s speech would become ammunition against her in swing states, but yet other liberals stepped up to defend her comments, claiming that most Trump supporters fit her description. This complacency and arrogance built up until election day.

America, united despite those who attempt to divide.

America, united despite those who attempt to divide.

Clearly, as the 304-227 EV Trump win shows, this strategy was beyond flawed. Post-election, Democrats sulked their way into the postmortem stage, where various forms of analysis of the party’s shortcomings bubbled to the forefront. Some of the more interesting points of analysis came from within the campaign. Democratic National Convention staffers identified a massive issue: pure arrogance on the part of the Clinton campaign, and many others within the party. Clinton’s team complacently refused to campaign in tenuous Obama 2012 states, waiting for the last week in the election cycle to run ads in places like Wisconsin and Michigan. Everybody knew that these Rust Belt states were going to be closer than in 2008 and 2012, so it is baffling to think that the Clinton campaign ignored them for so long. Moreover, Clinton’s campaign refused to run ads about her policies, running the lowest percentage of policy-related ads since this metric was first measured in 2000.

Somehow, some folks didn’t learn from the arrogance and condescension towards blue collar and rural voters that lost the election for Democrats. This article, called “It’s Time for a Bluexit”, is the quintessential “didn’t learn a single thing from the election” piece. Just take a look at the tone Kevin Baker, the piece’s lifelong urban coastal living author, employs, describing wonderful states like Kansas as “empty, SUV loving, red states” and stating, “What’s the matter with Kansas? Who cares!” Clearly, Baker fails to appreciate the values that bind people together in the Midwest. I challenge him to step outside his bubble and take a look at how strong, how inclusive, and how incredible Kansas communities are. He hasn’t read about how people came together to rebuild Greensburg after  a horrific tornado. He hasn’t looked into how Kansans are coming together as I write to provide relief for those impacted by wildfires. This is not just a Kansas phenomenon; the resilience and determination of Midwestern communities is unparalleled. It is absolutely shameful that Kevin Baker refuses to acknowledge life outside his elite bubble.

The article somehow gets even worse, claiming that rural voters are more “susceptible to fake news,” implying that they are somehow less intelligent than those in primarily Democratic cities are. This condescension rather serves to create ideological divides that damage the collective American consciousness. Calling people dumb because their communities voted the opposite way is counterproductive.

The America some want to leave behind.

The America some want to leave behind.

Baker, and some of the out of touch left, don’t care at all about uniting. Baker claims that “common ground is gone” and that it is now worthless even trying to talk to those in red states. Yes, he’s right in the regard that America faces a massive divide, from politics to economics to culture. However, this is not a reason to recoil into our own echo chambers. This is precisely the reason why we must all promote dialogue with those in other communities, to find the common ground, to broaden our own horizons, and to begin to bridge the cultural divide. If Democrats don’t try to talk to those they disagree with, divisions will only worsen. I ask David Baker, and every Democrat who looks down upon middle America, stereotypes rural areas, and ignores the plight of so many Americans, to remember the words of President Barack Obama in his famous 2004 speech: “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America.” Don’t choose echo chambers, division, and insults. Choose unity. Choose progress. Choose America.

1 Comment

  1. Dear Mr. Figuereido,

    First off, just for your information, I was brought up quite poor, in a small town and a fundamentalist church, where I became a born-again Christian. I know intimately how wonderful small communities can be; they helped my family through. As for the “elite urban bubble” I live in now, alack, would that it were so, as opposed to a small, rent-stabilized apartment mostly wallpapered with “Past Due” notices.

    I don’t doubt that you and your fellow Kansans are good in a tornado, or a wildfire—though the political party they have clutched to their bosom in thick and thin, through good times and bad, and impending insolvency, was worse than grudging in helping us in New York after we were struck by a hurricane, or bombed by radical Islamic terrorists. I am all for helping out states and communities whenever they have troubles, and for acting as though we are all still one country.

    Unfortunately, that’s no longer possible—or haven’t you noticed our president and his party gleefully rushing to slash discretionary spending to the bone, and block and cap Medicaid, with Medicare and likely Social Security to follow? There will soon be no way in Trump’s America to materially help our neighbors no matter how much we might want to. Our resources will be used only to fund another gigantic, completely unnecessary military build-up, a border wall, and whatever other self-enriching projects this president wishes to engage upon—if not something even more horrible, such as Mr. Bannon’s proposed war of civilizations.

    But beyond these grim facts, what I wrote was that I do not believe there is an argument to be made anymore that will convince Kansas or most other red states to come over. As I presume you’re aware, Kansas has not elected a Democratic senator since the nadir of the Great Depression. It has only voted for two Democratic presidents since the Depression, the Missouri farm boy Harry Truman (over city slicker Thomas E. Dewey), and LBJ, after Goldwater’s meltdown. In other words, Kansas didn’t just start going Republican when the Clintons took over the Democratic party. They also rejected such old-school liberals as Al Smith, Adlai Stevenson, John Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, and Mike Dukakis.

    For that matter, Democrats have not controlled either house of the Kansas state legislature since the end of 1992, and for most of that time Republicans have held the governorship as well. Sam Brownback embarked on his famous, far-right experiment in running the state, and blew an enormous hole through the budget. He was re-elected, and his veto of a more reasonable budget was upheld. Not even the abject failure of the right-wing idea brought the Democrats back.

    The reason for this is, in good part, that Republican voters simply no longer accept any reality that does not jibe with their pre-conceived notions of how the world works. Kansas is getting steadily more right-wing, not less. The views held by most of the supporters of its dominant party—like the views of Republicans throughout the United States today—would be baffling to, say, the Kansans who fought for Lawrence in the 1850s and ’60s, or the Kansas Populists who literally tried to hold the statehouse by force of arms in the 1890s.

    Those great traditions are long dead and buried, in favor of the state’s overwhelming support for a noxious TV clown in the 2016 election. So you tell me: what exactly is the argument that is going to turn Kansas blue?

    —Kevin Baker

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