Clive Crook of the Financial Times and the Atlantic Monthly nails it on the head:
Democrats speak up for the less prosperous; they have well-intentioned policies to help them; they are disturbed by inequality, and want to do something about it. Their concern is real and admirable. The trouble is, they lack respect for the objects of their solicitude. Their sympathy comes mixed with disdain, and even contempt.
Democrats regard their policies as self-evidently in the interests of the US working and middle classes. Yet those wide segments of US society keep helping to elect Republican presidents. How is one to account for this? Are those people idiots? Frankly, yes – or so many liberals are driven to conclude. Either that or bigots, clinging to guns, God and white supremacy; or else pathetic dupes, ever at the disposal of Republican strategists. If they only had the brains to vote in their interests, Democrats think, the party would never be out of power. But again and again, the Republicans tell their lies, and those stupid damned voters buy it.
If only the Democrats could contain their sense of entitlement to govern in a rational world, and their consequent distaste for wide swathes of the US electorate, they might gain the unshakeable grip on power they feel they deserve. Winning elections would certainly be easier – and Republicans would have to address themselves more seriously to economic insecurity. But the fathomless cultural complacency of the metropolitan liberal rules this out.
It will be hard. They will have to develop some regard for the values that the middle of the country expresses when it votes Republican. Religion. Unembarrassed flag-waving patriotism. Freedom to succeed or fail through one’s own efforts. Refusal to be pitied, bossed around or talked down to. And all those other laughable redneck notions that made the United States what it is.
As a member of the overly educated and affluent cultural elite in that dread bastion of liberalism, San Francisco, I can tell you that Crook’s assessment of Democratic attitudes is true. The middle of the country consists of “flyover states.” Texans and southerners are violent, uneducated rednecks. And God forbid anyone impose the least restriction on abortion rights.
The problem is that the elites automatically make certain key assumptions that simply don’t hold true for much of the electorate:
- Economic issues are more important than social issues
- Smart people should decide what’s good for us
- Religious faith is not a valid decision-making criteria
The bottom line is that if you truly believe that the kingdom of Heaven is more important than our life on Earth, each of those assumptions is dead wrong.
The minimum wage (which, by the way, is a *horrible* idea) doesn’t condemn people to Hell, but premarital sex does.
Men of God are the best advisors on any issue, since they are more likely to show us how to do God’s will than godless scientists and economists.
And if a major political party supports the right of misguided women to murder their unborn children, then it must be stopped at all costs.
Look, I’m sympathetic–I believe in voting on economic issues, which is why I generally vote Republican (back when Republicans stood for fiscal restraint), even though I loathe the social conservative movement.
But the bottom line is that the Democrats need to stop whining about how the world should work, and figure out how to win elections based on the realities on the ground.