Republicans: Racist or Redeemable?

Part of me is glad this is happening, because it makes Trump’s lies and outright absurdity so obvious. I’m friends with a bunch of people who voted for Trump simply because they live in the country and like most people who live in the country they vote Republican. And even they’re laughing at this spectacle. If the Democrats would make the slightest effort to appeal to people outside urban areas they might even be able to make some inroads. Go Biden go!

[Important note: someone else extracted this thread from a discussion in another thread. I appear at the top of it so it looks like I created the thread title, but I emphatically did not.]


How so? By pandering to their antiquated Christian morality which would happily relieve women of the right to choose what they do with their bodies, outlaw same sex marriage and reinforce the police state? Or how?


I recently moved from San Francisco, where I literally don’t know a single Republican voter after living there for 20 years, to the country where probably 4/5ths of the people I know vote Republican. And not a one of those Republicans fits your cliche. I literally can’t think of a single one. Same goes for the “they vote Republican because they’re racist and/or stupid” cliche. They’re Republicans for these reasons:

  • gun rights. That’s a biggie when the police are 30 minutes away… Not having the police just a couple minutes away from a 911 call causes an absolutely HUGE difference in perspective.

  • regulations. This is just as massive. Just one example among many, but people want to be able to put a shed wherever they want, without a lengthy permitting process that is likely to cost more than the shed itself. And they don’t think regulating business and labor works.

  • mistrust of the government. They don’t want to be told what to do by people they perceive as incompetent (thanks Reagan!), and in general they don’t need the government as much as people who live in densely populated areas. Or at least that’s their perception.

Those are the big 3. [I’m sure I’m mangling those though. Would be nice to get their perspective] Given those values it’s hard to argue that they should be voting for Democrats instead of Republicans. Do you agree?

And it’s interesting to note that many of the Republicans I know hate Trump as much as I do, and I grew up in New York! No one hates Trump like New Yorkers. But they vote for him anyway because they sure aren’t going to vote for a Democrat. One or two vote Libertarian.

I really think this is a good time for Biden and the Democrats in general to reach people who live in the country, but first the Democrats are going to have to have to try to understand the needs of people who live in the country, which starts with acknowledging that those needs are different.


It makes sense that people who don’t like government (as made evident by your three reasons) would vote for the party that doesn’t want to govern and actively sabotages any attempt to govern (except when there’s a buck to made out of it for the politicians or their cronies). That’s not really a basis for the Dems to pander to those voters, though, given that – whatever criticisms one has of the party – they are still trying to govern.

The better approach for the Dems is to give rural voters reasons to waste their votes on Libertarian candidates who are more open about their anti-statist “free”-market idiocy than the Republicans are.


Or just stop pandering to them altogether, and make more of an effort to understand their perspective. You might be surprised what happens when you stop trying so hard to dismiss them as idiots. And I think there’s much more to be gained politically from that approach as well. (And to be fair, they all dismiss Democrats as idiots too).

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Ideally, understanding the anti-statist perspective of right-leaning rural voters (as laid out by you) would lead the Dems to write them off and focus on voters in and close to urban areas. There are rural areas that do tend to vote Dem, and they should be targetted as well with more precision than is currently the case.

[this doesn’t mean I agree with the Dem establishment’s Third-Way decision in the 1990s to abandon the working classes in general, but that transcends the rural-urban divides]

Any extra Dem resources freed up could be put into fighting gerrymandering, reforming the Senate, and reforming or abolishing the Electoral College (all three of which actions would better reflect liberal-democratic ideas of popular majority rule).

And I didn’t dismiss rural voters as idiots. I said they vote for politicians who promote idiotic ideologies – be they Republicans or Libertarians – who do pander to them.


Dismissing them as anti-statist because they’re in favor of fewer regulations is way over the top. Clearly you’re not interested in finding common ground, but I really think there is common ground to be had, which could possibly go far towards uniting this insanely divided country. And honestly in my experience Democratic voters understand Republican voters far far far worse than Republican voters understand Democrats, as I think this discussion demonstrates

I’m using your own criteria, which all point to a fundamental distrust of government and the state in general that goes beyond merely wanting fewer regulations. That’s why they vote for anti-statist GOP and Libertarian politicians who talk about government being the problem they’re going to destroy from within.

It’s not up to Democratic voters to understand GOP voters (or vice-versa). It’s up to Democratic politicians to choose whether or not to understand them in an effort to get their votes; I’m arguing that it’s become a waste of time and resources for them. In an urbanising country I’m fine with the GOP being mainly the party of rural America as long as the vote of a rural American carries no more weight than the vote of any other American.


My dude, this wjole thread you keep saying “if only the democrats fundamentally alter their overall policy positions to just copy the republicans, then rural voters would like them”

Firstly, what do you think the dems have been doing for the last 20 years? Because it appears very clear to me they’re just copying the republicans. Right down to the ACA.

Doesn’t matter.

You’re just calling for there to be two indistinguishable parties in both practice and appearance.

It’s bad enough the republicans have shifted the overton window so far right. Now you’re telling us if we just take the dems even further right eventually, what? Horseshoe theory will suddenly make them progressive again?

If we abandon all progressive values and policy in persuit of trying to win over entrenched opposition, what are we left with after we win?


More to the point, what are conservative rural voters going to be left with? They’re going to suffer more than they already do from the outcomes of American policy in general shifting further right. It’s a recipe for what Neal Stephenson called “Ameristan”, which isn’t good for anyone.

By the way, here’s a recent article about what happened when an urban liberal tried to understand those entrenched voters (in this case, exurban and rural Xtianist ones):


Having the police just a few minutes away in the inner city is pretty awful too. Especially when they regularly kill people in your community for no reason, then never are charged with crimes or punished in any meaningful way.

And hey, if you don’t like it and make any noise, the police might just come and kill you too.

That’s literally just wrong. We have counter example after counter example. I’m pretty sure lots of rural hunters are very happy there’s things like bag limits and anti-pollution regulation so that there both are deer to hunt, and those deer have a normal number of heads and hooves.

Like, you can just think they don’t work, but I can use facts and evidence to fuck your feelings about regulation.

And again, their perception is just wrong. They have a narrow and dim worldview, because they live in isolation relative to the world and do not have a chance to experience the global culture they are irreversibly embedded within.

Their walmart chicken tendies don’t just magically appear in a truck on the way to the store, along with the TVs, computers and phones they use.

And their goods don’t just magically disappear when they sell their crops and livestock to those millions of people in global markets either. They think they’re self-sufficient but they’d be pretty fucked if the cities just disappeared. They rely on urban areas for commerce.

Just because republican commentators keep telling them dems hurt their feelings doesn’t make them sympathetic or have valid grievances.


Hopefully it’s obvious that I’m not trying to list all their values, just a few key differences with Democrats. They want reform, not an abolition of the state. I with my hippy leanings am far more anti-statist than any Republican I know.

You certainly may be right that the country is doomed to be hopelessly divided, but I think that Trump has exposed some of the absurdity of the current incarnation of the Republican party to many Republicans (not all of course), and that there’s a rare opportunity for Democrats to reach out. .

No, I’m calling for the Democrats to acknowledge that there’s a difference in the needs of people who live in rural areas, and to stop dismissing people who live in those areas (and therefore vote Republican) as dumb hicks.

I don’t know what specific policy changes would follow from that, but if a non patronizing discussion starts up, I think it’ll become obvious.

Not if it means that the Dems compromise their values further to the right than they already have in that effort. As we’ve seen, all that does is push the GOP differentiating itself further into crazypants territory. That’s how the 2020 election was a contest between someone who’s effectively a Rockefeller Republican and a fascist demagogue.

While you may be up to see the results of more of this on-going outreach to intransigent Republicans, I’ll pass. Instead, perhaps we might see some outreach from the other direction (instead of the usual cheating and vote suppression).

I’ll agree that they are key differences. It’s important to note that, if you look at any other OECD country save the UK, none of those issues are particularly important to rural voters. That’s because, spared 40 years of Reaganite and Thatcherite propaganda (and spared a disastrously misinterpreted constitutional amendment), they see the state and its regulations as things that benefit them. If they’re voting conservative in those countries, it’s more about social issues than political-economic ideology.


i have the feeling you don’t know many republicans. the ones i know want to see the epa gone, they want all laws and rules regarding wetlands, water quality, auto emissions, fuel economy, and land use eliminated. they think it is a waste of money and resources to have agencies like the eeoc and a shame that there are laws that require its existence. they find the existence of agencies like the department of education, the department of energy, and the department of health and human services an affront to decency and common sense.

i know lots of republicans and they mostly believe the only things that need to be strongly regulated are “those people’s” behavior. as for the rest of it, most of them really believe if the government was small enough to “drown in a bathtub” they wouldn’t be “temporarily embarrassed billionaires” but actual billionaires.

allow me to reflexively gainsay your statement. the democratic party has engaged in this kind of post-mortem every election cycle i have lived through as an adult attempting to try to come together and find common ground with republican voters rural, suburban, and urban. desperately trying to find modes of outreach that would actually work. even when they win.

all it’s managed to accomplish in 40 years of trying this has been to make the democratic party more conservative to no good purpose. finally, along about 2006 democrats began waking up to the fact that the old “blue-dog democrat” shtick was a fool’s game because most republicans will vote for a republican candidate over a republican-lite candidate every time and it kills the democratic base. there are maybe two places where that thing works anymore and we have absolutely enough joe manchins already.

it is my considered opinion that it is time for the republican party to reach out and find common ground with us. it is time for the rural voter, of which i am one despite the fact that i am at the far left of the democratic party, to come to understand the urban powerhouses which drive the economy and pay the taxes that support farm prices, subsidize their roads, and help keep their hospitals open.


Many of the folk you describe are descendants of ‘pioneers’ whose first move after building a settlement was to install a government to regulate things, like firearms and properties. A willful forgetting of their roots IMHO.


And yet, in all of those 40 years, that’s seldom asked for in the MSM (including “lefty” outlets like the NYT and CNN and The Atlantic). It’s always been a one-way street, the surest sign of a bad-faith negotiation.


You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Most of the ones I’ve heard prattle on about it here in Wisconsin think the DNR is a “fascist organization” run by people opposed to hunting. Their views on labor laws, zoning, and other aspects of coordinating a huge mass of people(*), are similarly limited. It’s almost like short term thinking has been encouraged in the population or something.

(* - This also figures into it, of course, as rural population densities seem to leave them thinking their actions have no effect beyond their immediate surroundings. Apparently the runoff from fields is isolated from the regional water table somehow, or at least that’s the impression one is left with from hearing statements about agricultural restrictions.)


At this point I’m good friends with probably 50 people who vote Republican, and I peripherally know hundreds more. That’s what happens when you live in any small country town, as opposed to visiting, unless you’re holing up somewhere. That’s enough of a sample size for me but of course it’s just one place.

That sure contradicts my experience, every single Republican I know is a passionate hardcore environmentalist. They mostly all hunt and fish, and since they live in the country they interact with the outdoors a lot more than people who live in the city. Everyone I know wants environmental protection, and for example I routinely hear people call for more protection of the fisheries (but not blindly of course).

Agreed, and that’s a great way for Democrats to reach out. They demonize Democrats almost as much as Democrats demonize them, and the way I explain the Democratic position to them is that at root we want to get everyone educated, keep everyone healthy, and safe from oppression.

I’ve never seen a widespread acknowledgement that the root difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is that one serves the cities and one serves people who live in the country. And I can’t imagine looking at a presidential election map and drawing any other conclusion.

The biggest demographic bloc that voted for Il Douche in 2016 (and likely again in 2020) was suburban (really exurban) white middle-class males. Some of them cosplay good ol’ boys, but most of them have the same experience with rural life as a latte-drinking San Francisco liberal.

The maps and the Electoral College distort things, but ultimately this isn’t a town-vs-country dynamic. If you’re going to look at real differentiating factors, look at a given district’s population density and racial/ethnic diversity and median age. Then ask yourself what values really sit just under that thin veneer of Libertarianism and if it’s worth the Dems’ trying to connect on that basis, too.


i live in rural central texas. indeed, i am an 8th generation native of texas and a 7th generation native of the town i grew up in. except for the members of my immediate family and the county democratic party in which i have participated since 1984, virtually everyone i know and work with is a republican. 90% of them are full-bore trumpists and were tea-party republicans prior to that. the views i related above in my response to yours is based on decades of observation and interactions with texas republicans. i have close cousins who fill their facebook timelines with things like that or worse. i have one cousin who stated ahead of the election that if democratic voters in the corrupt cities of texas pulled the state in favor of biden that he would personally volunteer to man one of the firing squads needed to “BRING SANITY BACK TO THE STATE!” in his opinion the best type of outreach for democrats would be to either move or die.

and yet it is the democratic party who persist in trying to reach out and understand them, even when they win. i have to reject the premises of that statement. it is almost impossible for us to demonize republicans beyond the demonization they offer us unless accurately describing their stated views represents demonization.

my comments in the above reply as well as in this one reflect my lived experience of nearly 60 years on earth. i’m tired of living in a bizarro world in which up is down.