The conservative noise machine has been very successful at spreading a false narrative that liberals and progressives have been the authors of their own misfortune in various ways, by contemptuously writing off far-right voters and leaving them with no choice but to vote Republican, or by “wasting everyone’s time” by trying to use any means of redressing social justice issues other than getting their prefered candidate elected.
The idea that the Know-Nothing 27% (MAGAts, Xtianists, white supremacists, incels, etc.) could ever be convinced to vote Dem is ludicrous, but the idea that “the left” is a monolithic bloc of educated elitists who blithely show contempt for and dismiss Real Americans™ from the Heartland and thus sow the seeds of their own demise still seems to be compelling for a large number of people.
It’s reached the point where some on the left buy into it on the basis of misguided populism and a desperate desire to beat the GOP, which also means it appears with some frequency on the BBS and causes derails. @chenille summed up the outcome of such arguments:
Since a significant part of the American left is made up of vulnerable and historically disenfranchised individuals and groups trying to find a way to power without compromising with fascists and bigots, this narrative is also part of the wider genre of victim-blaming against progressives and liberals – especially those using every avenue they can (including effective protests and court cases) to effect systemic change beyond our broken-by-design electoral system.
Going forward, and with another election season infused with right-wing populism on the horizon, this catch-all topic will serve as a receptacle and discussion forum to reduce the impact of anti-patterns falling into this genre.
We’ll start with one frequently seen claim: when those on the left mock MAGA supporters for their absurd logic- and fact-challenged statements instead of trying to appeal to them, they’re alienating potential Dem voters. Let’s see how it plays out…
If they are that easy to manipulate, why aren’t progressives and other leftists out there working to manipulate them to a more reasonable viewpoint? Most of the progressive movement in America came from rural areas choosing collectivism to solve problems. Even today, many rural communities use collective solutions. The contempt and easy dismissal of whole swaths of the population by the left is one reason many people cling to the Republican Party. The actual number of horrible people is pretty small-if any outreach at all was done in a way that didn’t start with “you people are so stupid you really think x” it would probably work.
Progressives and liberals prefer to deal in reality and facts. Manipulation like this is fine for comedy but won’t translate into votes.
There was a time after the turn of the 20th century that people living in rural areas saw the value in those facts and elected people like Bob La Follette in Wisconsin and supported the Minnesota NPL. Conservatives quickly learned to combat progressive populism with appeals to Xtianist-based red scares; to white supremacist sentiment; to Libertarian “rugged individualism”; and to promoting a divide between country and the city. The GOP has only refined those bad-faith tactics during the postwar era, turbocharging them after the 1980s. It drowns out any memory of the positive outcomes of the Progressive Era and the New Deal for rural America.
At this point, progressives and liberals have no choice but to write off the Know-Nothing 27% (rural and otherwise) – not an insignificant number but not a majority of the electorate. They are as I described above, and they are unreachable. Trying to lure them in with the sociopathic methodologies of the GOP only makes elections a competition of grifters, with those on the left continually compromising their core values in a quest for power (see, for example, Third Way Dems).
Well, you certainly won’t change anyone because you have decided to write them off, and you’ve given them no reason to reconsider their ideas. And just how well do you see the current methods working for progressives and leftists? The right wing has managed to take over much of local politics because too few progressives could be bothered to vote, much less become candidates. Now the cry is that it’s too dangerous to resist, because those folks have guns, yet the progressive left is also where you hear calls for burning it all down coming from.
Seriously-where do you see progressive methods actually changing the political landscape of America?
If anything, the Republican Party is the one showing contempt for voters by appealing to those voters’ worst prejudices and assuming voters are stupid enough to vote against their own interests as long as some carnival barker mentions Jesus and the Flag often enough.
Remember, Hillary Clinton was the one who grew up in the midwest and built a political career through outreach to the people of Arkansas and was an active member of her church and had a traditional family and all those other qualities political conservatives pretend they’re looking for in a candidate. Trump was a coastal elite born into fantastic wealth and lived atop a Manhattan skyscraper emblazoned with his own name in giant gold letters.
It was never about which side has actual contempt for rural voters.
Progressives and leftists don’t control the Democratic Party. That will change over time, but for the moment all they can do (and are doing) is offer reality-based proposals for how collectivism and anti-corporatism will benefit rural populations. There’s no manipulation involved in showing how a farm co-op can compete with big agribusiness or how right-to-repair laws can allow farmers to regain control over the John Deere tractors they bought.
Progressives shouldn’t be trying to follow in the Dem establishment’s strategy of trying to appeal to or fool the Know-Nothing 27%*; they should be (and are) trying to shift the Democratic Party away from that tactic and toward offering a good portion of the other (roughly) 25% of Republican voters who aren’t total suckers and idiots policies that will benefit them (instead of big-money donors).
[* again, important to emphasise that these aren’t only rural people.]
Got it. The “silent majority” of racism. Your point? The whole Republican Party platform was all about racism. There is no solution for their problems offered but they cling to it anyway. It’s all grievance and name calling without anything substantial.
Why we have to try to understand and considerate to them while they act like the rest of the population doesn’t exist?
It worked both way. They have to think themselves that way first. Are you contradicting here? They’re already abandon any reasonable discourse even before anyone trying to reach them. Coddling the delusional is not the same as reaching out. Two sides are not living in the same reality and one side refuses to compromise.
And has constantly been accused of being an elitist who has contempt for conservative/rural voters while Donald Trump (who openly mocks everything from their appearance to their faith when he’s not in front of the camera) is seen as the populist who is really in touch with their needs.
“Voters cling to the Republican Party because the Democrats have contempt for rural America while the Republicans actually care about them” is a very bad take that does not reflect reality.
The “left” is one giant mass of people with no nuance who haven’t written countless words on exactly how and why to counter this horrifying moment. They’re definitely not the ones starting community groups and non-profits to improve the lives of their fellow citizens instead of deceptive Christo-fascist recruitment tools disguised as public aid. And they’re all just sitting at home whining while LGBTQ+ rights are being eviscerated when they could be organizing resistance campaigns, bringing successful Court challenges to these laws and offering hope and help to those who suffer from them. Totally 100% accurate depiction of what is happening in the world right now.
“Stop hitting yourself! Why are you hitting yourself?”
I am going to remind that Hillary Clinton gave a speech saying some of Trump’s supporters were deplorable racists, but others had legitimate reasons to want change – and pretty much all of them adopted the name deplorables in response.
Blaming the left for fascism is so routine. If only we had talked to them just the right way. If only we took their made-up grievances seriously instead of trying to deal with the real problems. If only we countered all their stupid ideas, but without making them feel stupid. If only we tried pandering to them like the right, but without being patronizing. It’s impossible. I think it’s meant to be impossible.
Because isn’t never really offers the left a course of action, just washes the far right’s hands of responsibility. Yeah, we voted for kids in cages. Why didn’t you talk us out of it? But it’s a lie to think they aren’t responsible for what they do, and the entire history of protest movements tells us it’s a lie that there is some special formula to bring the bigots on board. You really do have to work past people who choose hate.
And yeah, sorry, but the number of horrible people isn’t that small. Segregation was popular – do we imagine its supporters all just vanished? Seeing we have a party that was cool supporting concentration camps for migrant children I am going to say no.
And it’s always wrong. While there are certainly some on the left who look down on the “real America” which… how the fuck did that get to be an idea… the vast majority of those on the left are interested in systemic change that will benefit everyone. If people on the left are riled up, it’s largely because of how much say the far right has in today’s right wing politics. States are passing genocidal laws, but the REAL problem is that “leftists” need to be nicer to those on the far right? That whole idea just doesn’t comport with what’s happening here.
Yep, it’s all “our” fault when they pass laws trying to eliminate an entire group of people… We “made” them do it, apparently. It’s not their own internalized bigotry, or their drive for power and wealthy, so they feed their constituents lies about “groomers” to ensure they stay in power, when they have literally NO solutions to the actually problems facing middle America. Middle America doesn’t need anti-trans laws and abortion bans… they need policies that addresses their needs and deals with the rank inequality in our economic systems.
The contempt as well as fear in this area is against ‘others’: people who are not white, Christian, heteronormative (in that order). There is a belief that only they are the smart, competent, hard-working citizens in the country.
I have seen something similar in suburban areas, where the contempt flows both ways, toward urban and rural communities.
In major cities, there is a lack of thought about rural areas. There’s no contempt, there’s basically nothing. A general sense that that’s where the food comes from, but no real attention paid otherwise.
But online, especially in social media but also in more conventional media sources, I keep hearing that “coastal elites” disrespect us. I’ve spent enough time on both coasts to know it’s the same as the divisions in the Midwest: they don’t think about us, they don’t talk about us, we’re not part of their identity at all. Whereas I hear about ‘urban’ issues all the time out here amongst the fields, spoken with disdain.
I never said that the republicans care about the people who vote for them. They do start off by saying that their party holds the same ideas about society, and that if elected they will support those ideas. The left has often started by saying “your ideas are wrong! Let us tell you why you are being stupid!” So far, that hasn’t won the left any voters.
I actually like this approach, more. It’s both clear at highlighting what it is that people believe and is also capable of giving only as much sympathy as needed, and none more. Some of the other formats are more “Laugh at the yokels!” (looking over at Klemmer) which just kinda feels like a hollow reinforcement of “at least we aren’t those people”.
What’s the important take-away here isn’t “These people are flexible to policies! Why haven’t we convinced them!”, it’s that fascists vote for their identity first then fit the policies to match. These folks do not lay out their policies and then pick a party affiliation. They react based on who fits their identity, then adapt their views to match their emotional investment.
Part of the problem is that “the left” likes to sit around and whine about how we’re not properly persuading all these people, but really, the core is not persuadeable. If we’re waiting for change to be palatable for these folks, it’s a waste of time looking to appeal to a judge whose pockets are already stuffed by someone else.
The idea that the left should be trying to steal voters from the far right is also a myth. I already mentioned how that went for Hillary Clinton. You can see when the Democratic party does well in elections – it’s when they offer a vision that inspires people who otherwise wouldn’t vote to support them. Progressive stuff, not trying to suck up to the bigots that hate them.
Then the sheer disregard both sides and regions have about actually understanding where food comes from. One side wants to act like it’s not work and the other takes the propaganda from the mouth of the land-owner farmers while entirely ignoring the entire existence of the farm-workers who provide the actual labor and (frequently) knowledge that keeps the farms running.
Well, yeah… the rest of us are just effete liberals, who never did an honest day of work in our lives! /s
they spout freedom, and then they ban gender affirming care, abortion, books, and the teaching of history… But sure… “libruls” are the real bad guys here… I suppose if we let them ban all that shit, then the far right will leave us alone… because the far right is famous for leaving people alone once they attack one group…
Yeah. Hatred and bigotry is wrong. And the policies of the right has created mass inequality, corporate domination that many on the right claim to hate, and no actual policies that will solve problems that we’re all facing (climate change, inequality, etc, etc). All they have right now is hate and tax cuts to offer. That will not solve any of the widespread systemic problems facing the entire planet.
I firmly believe that most of us want these problems solved… but it’s the far right that is driving the grievances that are distracting from getting those problems solved. If they refuse to believe in facts (climate change, systemic racism, the common humanity of LGBQT+ folks and women, etc), then they’ll keep being the impediment to some actual solutions.
Oh, you’re right. They should advocate for banning trans care and tax cuts too… Because, that has worked out so well for everyone. /s
If you’re angry that I hold transphobia, racism, and corporate greed in contempt, then I guess be mad. I’m gonna keep being angry about those things, because they are not helpful in solving problems. They are distractions to keep the wealth flowing upwards.
BOTH SIDES ARE BAD! Me thinking tax cuts aren’t helpful is EXACTLY like Ron Desantis calling trans people groomers!!! /s