Why aren’t we Unified?
This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post. Let me remind readers of a quote from the David Ignatius column that I was discussing: “Biden hasn’t delivered on uniting the country.”
And then let me remind the reader of the ongoing behavior of the previous president, nominal head of the Republican Party, and frontrunner for the party’s 2024 nomination:
Info on that claim here.
And, of course, stuff like this:
We are in complicated and divisive times, and as I noted yesterday the current administration could always be better, but when you have the leader of one of our two major parties behaving as noted above (without any internal repudiation of significance) it just seems more than a bit ridiculous to criticize Biden for not having united the country.
Maybe it’s because I’m going though a lecture series on Athenian politics, but I’ve been thinking the practice of Ostracism had much to recommend it.
Quite frankly Dr Taylor–because it doesn’t pay to be unified. Its also not near as entertaining. I know this is the cynical position. But we have to understand culturally how the need to be entertained in almost everything combined with the American ethos of making money above all else could naturally lead the to the current climate.
When Voters actually decide they want unity–that’s what politicians will trip over themselves to deliver.
Let’s see how many Republican political leaders at all levels of government speak out against this blatant appeal to the White Power junkies among us.
I honestly don’t think it’s all that complicated. Once again,Kevin Drum has it charted. The first chart shows polled number of Americans who say they feel anger or dissatisfaction with how things are going with data from 1980 thru 2021. Unsurprisingly it shows dissatisfaction growing in the 1980 recessions then improving. It shows the same thing in the 1990 recession with recovery after. And again dissatisfaction grew in the 2001 recession. But it didn’t go down again. It kept rising and has been at a fairly steady at 70-80%!! since the start of the 2008 recession. Why?
Drum then overlays FOX “News” viewership. dissatisfaction/anger tracks nicely with FOX viewership. Rupert Morloch is an evil little man who is destroying the country, end of story. Well, end of story except for his evil spawn. The question isn’t “why?” The question is what do we do about it?
@Mister Bluster: What objections to White Power do Republican political leaders have? The left split back in the 60s when the more moderate element decided that they didn’t want Angela and Huey to burn the country to the ground and others to convert the US to a Marxist state. Where are the moderates on the right who will separate from advocates of white power? Especially when separating from the White Power advocates may mean having no power at all. Triangulation won’t work on the right because the only thing to triangulate to is obscurity.
I might add that if Democrats really cared as much as they claim about Democracy–they’d launch their own Southern strategy to steal margin away from Republicans in rural areas and try to claw back margin on working class voters. You know–they supposed constituency of the Democratic Party that now votes Republican?
However, the status quo may actually be what Democrat Donors want.
I view this much how I viewed our actions in Afghanistan. The outsiders and public were told we were doing one thing. In reality–the actions that one would take to say, make Afghanistan a self sustaining Democracy, were simply not being done. Not tried and failed–NOT BEING DONE.
The initiatives one would take to build sovereign institutions of self-government were not resourced or funded. They were proposed (by the people that had a clue) and denied by Congress and the Executive when it came time to write a check or allocate the subject matter expertise. If you really want to know what an organization’s priorities are–look at where they spend their money–not at their moving lips.
Democrats say they want governing majorities–yet they let a disinformation campaign rage unchecked in areas they need better performance in to secure such majorities. They make no effort to establish legitimate Governor candidates in key states like Florida and allow onionheads like Rick Scott and Desantis (who will win again against Charlie freaking Crist) to beat stiffs elections after election.
Seriously, what gives? Do Democrats want to win or are they happy raising a shitload of money? Their actions say they latter.
Which is why Dems need to stop campaigning on “unity.” It puts the possibility of success in the hands of the opposition who obviously wont play along and will then claim the dem failed to deliver on their promise of “healing divisions” or whatever… Why hand them a win?
@Jim Brown 32:
I can’t argue.
@gVOR08: I think that that is too simplistic. For one thing, the FNC viewership is not large enough as a share of the population to have that level of an effect all by itself. And FNC premiered in 1997 or 1998.
I suspect that in terms of an order of magnitude, Limbaugh had more of an effect.
I think that the general thesis (that it is about media) is likely correct, but it would be a combo of Limbaugh and talk radio, FNC, and then social media, to include podcasts. I think Drum over-simplifies.
I would also throw in, as I have tried to underscore in the past, that a lot of it has to do with the part sorting that happened started in 1994. I think people ignore/don’t understand how that change affected politics in DC and therefore in the broader population (as I have noted, the south went from blue to red during that period, marking a partisan shift, although not really an ideological one. The alignment of ideology and party is powerful and more fuels FNC than the other way around).
Again: media segmentation is part of this story, but it is not the simple causation that Drum argues, in my view.
Just want to point out Trump’s remarks to the PA GOP is basically a Stalin quote
@Just nutha ignint cracker:..Especially when separating from the White Power advocates may mean having no power at all.
Especially when separating from the White Power advocates and the White Power junkies leader, Adolph Trump, may mean having no power at all.
@Steven L. Taylor: Limbaugh, Gringrich, and Fox arose in rapid succession and fed on one another. I see that era as the beginning of the Permanent Campaign. It took another decade for sorting to complete itself but, yes, it’s in nobody’s interest to work together — least of all a minority party that can only gain power through enhancing division.
@Steven L. Taylor:
The notion of unity seems another example of the distinction between stated and revealed preferences.
As a general matter, our revealed preferences often reflect our tendency toward the path with less friction. Other times, our revealed preferences are driven by social desirability — signalling if you will.
But unity seems different. It’s not obviously more frictionful than division. And it’s not obviously less socially desirable than division.
So what is it that makes unity (or perhaps more specifically, considerate/charitable/gracious/etc exchange) so elusive? Note, I’m speaking to the personal level, not the societal.
To be clear, it’s not true that it’s in nobody’s interests to work together. It’s not in the minority’s interests to work with the majority.
Which is why the GOP is finding they have to thwart election reform if they want to hold power. The political divisions aren’t enough – the anti-majority design has be maintained as well.
@Jim Brown 32:
I’m honestly not sure that would be possible–at least in the same way that the Southern Strategy worked. As I understand it, the Southern Strategy was based on seeing an existing slow-moving political shift that was already underway (born primarily out of the civil rights movement) and leaned into it/accelerated it.
I don’t think we see the same shift in dynamics happening today to tap into. Other than potentially towards populism, but that populism still feels very ethnonational to me. Or, at least so long as Trump is in the picture. And even then, I’d say that push has been underway since the launch of right-wing media and the rise of white evangelicalism*. I don’t know how you tap into that without potentially fracturing the existing democratic base.
* – Note on evangelicalism is that appears to be a really important factor in this as well that I’m still trying to figure out. I’ve seen at least one study that suggests that with Latino/Latinx voters, religious affiliation correlates with political persuasion, with evangelical Latinos being far more likely to vote Republican or identify as conservative.
@Jim Brown 32: I might add that if Democrats really cared as much as they claim about Democracy–they’d launch their own Southern strategy to steal margin away from Republicans in rural areas and try to claw back margin on working class voters. You know–they supposed constituency of the Democratic Party that now votes Republican?While I certainly will agree that the Democratic leadership (and possibly the donors, too) prefer the status quo, I’ll just pause to also note that if you know the secret to launching such a strategy, hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars in diverse areas are waiting in breathless anticipation of your arrival.
@Just nutha ignint cracker: I’ll also add that there’s a potential book deal in it. Tick tock.
@Steven L. Taylor: “I think Drum over-simplifies.”
True, but the oversimplification does make a very compelling post hoc argument/sermon to preach to the choir.
I’ve been commenting on the effect of FOX “News”. Let me broaden my comment. While FOX is a key element, we are divided because the Republicans wants us divided and work very hard to make us so.
@Jim Brown 32: Well one need not ascribe this to a corrupt donor class or something of that sort, but a sort of tunnel vision – and structural blindness. Plus a queerly playing out class-like antagonism which one can observe in the mutual sneering at each other.
@Mimai: To be contrarian for a moment, I would note that “considerate/charitable/gracious/etc exchanges” are pretty common at the personal, defined as transactions among people who are known to each other, level. The inconsiderate/uncharitable/graceless/etc. exchanges happen when interacting with others to whom one has no connection/personal link. At least that’s what this misanthropic, antisocial, isolationistic crackeresque hermit is observing.
@Steven L. Taylor:
I think this is right. Ornstein and Mann pointed out back in 2012 that Ranney’s response to “Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System” proved to be pretty damn prescient. Ideologically sorted parties shift legislative negotiation from between factions within each of the two parties to intra-party negotiation.
I wish I had more time right now, because there is a lot more that can be said about this. But in short, it doesn’t just change how policy is crafted on Capitol Hill, it changes what tactics lead to electoral wins.
Uniting the people, will probably always make the rounds as a campaign slogan. It will probably never be something that a democratic government will have the power to achieve, and imo this is a good thing. That we are probably more fractured as a society than ever before (at least according to the press) is a cultural issue, driven by propaganda and an addiction to moral outrage. It is not an institutional one that can be solved by a presidential decree. As noted above by Jim Brown 32, profit first and foremost is the largest cause of our popular divisions, and there currently are alot of folks getting thier cut these days. Not just the obvious entities in government, and the press, with their nonstop assault on the American amygdala, but also the intoxicated consumers seeking more and more of it to satisfy what seems to be a widespread process addiction.
I fear it’s going to take a break through treatment in group psychotherapy rather than an adroit political figure to somehow unite our more polarized and reactionary citizens. Fortunately though, as outsized as their voices are on the internet, they actually seem to be a minority as a total group, and then halved due to polarization biases.
Now political diversity, is a strength, and not a weakness, imo. Speaking for myself, there are always those I disagree with politically, and that have different opinions than me. This doesn’t make them evil, or an enemy of the state, but a possible teacher. Whenever I am wrong about something, it is likely to be someone with a different perspective than mine that can point it out. Because of this, I don’t find “uniting the people” campaign slogans to be influential, or necessarily desirable.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Great point! Your observation tracks with my own. I should have been more specific to frame my post “at the margins.”
And yet I still sense a clear disconnect between what we say we want (unity) and what we do (division). The latter is becoming / has become habitual.
Gandhi had something to say about this…. though not in the way that is often attributed. The divine mystery supreme indeed.
Vonnegut gestured at this too, though more obliquely.
I may be wrong, but I don’t remember Biden promising unity. He said he would be willing to work across the aisle.
One way to approach an outreach to working people outside of cities might be to ask them what they want. Then find a way to give it to them. We have pollsters, God knows, why doesn’t the DNC commission a series of polls in rural areas of states we might conceivably carry? So maybe not Wyoming but Missouri, maybe not Mississippi but Wisconsin.
If I remember correctly, Limbaugh went nationwide in 1988. The Gingrich-inspired wave election was in 1994, with FNC coming along a couple of years later. So the whole process of turning the GOP into a party of full-time spoilsports began when the Democrats were uncertain about their ability to win any national election. Personally, I think the root cause is the insatiable desire of the American public to be entertained. Good government requires hard work and that’s something most of the GOP appears not to want.
I’ve been riding that hobby horse around for a while, here, Matt. Clearly the problem population is Evangelicals. They are the new Republican base. They are primed from early on to gravitate toward authoritarianism, so long as it appears with a white face and bouffant hairdo.
They are effectively our Taliban, an anti-modern, tribalist, nostalgia-driven movement. They feel the secular world is hemming them in and leaving them less and less of their own each day. They’re not wrong, either. The things we see as plusses (tolerance, diversity) are minuses for them. When we rant on about education, they know what it means. They know we think if we can just educate them they’ll stop being what they are. It’s extermination by education. Intellectual cleansing.
Evangelicals believe themselves superior, a special group that will be zapped up into heaven where they can finally get enough altitude to look down their noses at the rest of us sinners. For years they were the fastest growing segment (on the faith scale) of the country, then, seemingly overnight it was the atheists and agnostics who were on the rise. It’s why they lost their minds when Biden won. Trump was chosen by God, how could he lose? And if God couldn’t even keep Trump in power, what are their odds of ascending to glory?
I think their big problem is that they know, or at least strongly suspect, that they’ve made a series of bad bets from which it is too late to recover. They bet it all on faith, in Jesus, in Trump, and now they have a sneaking suspicion that we’re right, that it’s a materialistic world where the path to glory is an advanced degree. Tack on a pandemic where the only salvation is secular science and you’re watching a collapse of faith leading to moral panic.
@Michael Reynolds: I see bits and pieces and I don’t know what to expect from evangelicals.
– Evangelicals are the GOP base. But the number of evangelicals is apparently no longer growing, but falling.
– Supposedly younger evangelicals aren’t very interested in the culture war stuff.
– I’ve seen the statement that no, Hispanics are not shifting R, evangelical Hispanics are shifting R. And evangelical churches are aggressively recruiting Hispanics.
When I’m feeling optimistic I think we’re watching the death throes of a world view that simply cannot survive in the real world. When I’m feeling pessimistic I remember, silken slippers going down, wooden shoes coming up.
An interesting thing. When I look at pictures of GOP ‘shock troops’, their Capitol rioters, etc… and then take a look at our shock troops, Antifa, BLM demonstrators, etc…, I see about a ten year age gap on average. Youth is with us, more or less.
A possible historical echo. In the 1930’s and 40’s the epic battle was between fascism and communism. Fascism scored some early victories, but that was short-lived. The commies ground them down and outlasted them by decades. I’m not suggesting our factions are the equivalent of Nazis and Commies, (not yet) but it’s a reminder that there’s something brittle about fascists.
We badly misread Hispanics. As usual we like to stuff all minorities in a bag and pretend they’re the same, but the Black experience in this country has very little in common with the Mexican or Puerto Rican experience. Intersectionality is internalized racism. ‘They’ must all be roughly the same because ‘they’ are not ‘us’.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
“The inconsiderate/uncharitable/graceless/etc. exchanges happen when interacting with others to whom one has no connection/personal link.”
In my small realm of experience, I find this to be absolutely true. Politics and issues, when debated personally, is much more likely to be civil, sincere, and constructive than the anonymous world of the internet. . It is much harder to make a caricature of someone whom you know, or are personally interacting with.
@Michael Reynolds: This. Its how we got the data to craft messaging in many denied areas during GWOT. Of course, the DOD commission and consumption of the surveys were well obscured. The DNC could absolutely do the same and cultivate candidates that address the concerns of voters—but more importantly–UNDERMINE the current crop of grifters via “Conservative” local radio and social media.
Efforts have to be made to move these people our of existential threat mode. Its possible–but wont happen if there is only one media voice saying the zombie liberals are coming for you all day every day.
@Mimai: Over the years, I have distinguished between “things we want to want and things we want to have, which turn out to be two different lists a significant portion of the time. School reform, centrist third parties achieving majorities in Congress and winning the Presidency, small government, a workable social safety net, and probably lots of other things fall into the first category but never seem to come to fruition as second category items.-
@Michael Reynolds: there’s something brittle about fascists. I think it’s the faith based v reality based thing. The Thousand Year Reich would have lasted a lot longer had Hitler not been dumb enough to invade Poland (allied with France and England) and then invade Russia and later declare war against us. Franco and Salazar lasted a lot longer. I think because their countries were too weak to do anything monumentally stupid.
@Michael Reynolds: I think we DO know what people want. They don’t want Medicare to become a socialized medicine scheme. They don’t want undeserving people sponging off the safety net. They don’t want Mexicans who came across the border illegally as infants granted citizenship (or even residency, it turns out) simply because they served in the military in a war zone or something. They want people punished for the crimes they commit forever. They want people to not be able to vote without showing ID, and they want ID to be difficult to acquire. Mostly people don’t want “those people” to get “our stuff.”
Glad I was able to help.
@gVOR08: The reason that you’re not knowing what to expect from evangelicals is because evangelicals are not the monolith Reynolds imagines them to be. (That and pixie cuts and bobs are back in now.)
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Want to want vs. want to have. That does seem to capture a lot of it. Especially when we’re considering public policy stuff.
Where I see it having less relevance is in the domain of personal behavior. There’s little a person (ok, the median person) can do to bring about school reform, centrist 3rd parties, etc.
But there is quite a lot a person can do wrt comity. Not at the societal level, of course, but certainly at the n>1 level.
We have dozens of opportunities every day, in different contexts (irl and virtual), and with multiple people (friends, acquaintances, and strangers) to show secular grace, charity, etc. I’m including direct contact (like you and me in this discussion) and indirect contact (if you and me were talking about — not with — a third individual).
@Jim Brown 32: Your observations seem sound and on the mark. I especially like the wisdom of “look what they are spending money on, not what they are saying”.
I also think that there isn’t anybody empowered or funded to do any of the stuff you talk about, with regard to messaging. What needs to happen is some donors, and some organizers to gather around this kind of message and this kind of approach, which I love.
But most Democratic activity is focused around winning this campaign in this race, not on the big picture. D’s don’t march in step, or follow directives from higher up.
The Democratic Party misread SOME Hispanics. The big thing is that there’s basically three subgroups of Hispanics: white Hispanics, black Hispanics, and indigenous Hispanics.
The shift to the Republican party has been almost entirely in the group that consider themselves white Hispanics.
@Stormy Dragon: It is far more complicated than that. There is the country of origin issue (e.g., Cuba, Mexico, Central America, not to mention the South American and Caribbean cases). For that matter: are we talking populations that are recent immigrants, not recent immigrants, or not immigrants at all (as in: were here before here was what here now is)?
And yet when we try to do that (Build Back Better has a TON of things that poll well with “with people outside of cities”), they get angry at us because we can’t give them exactly what they want in the exact way they want it. Coal ain’t coming back so how about job training or green jobs? Nope – we ain’t changing how we live! How about money for crumbling infrastructure but it goes everywhere? Nope – means-test everyone so only the “worthy” get it! How about improved support for working and middle class workers and families? Nope – will cost too much and increase the debt! Work to improve rights and conditions for all Americans so the Forgotten Man gets his due? Nope – it’s cancel culture and CRT run amok!
We can’t win because every time we listen, we’re given contradictory info. They want what we’re offering in every poll but not from *us* and not in any usable format. Strip it down to *only* what they want and….. they’ll still vote R because we’re evil socialist libs trying to ruin their culture and way of life. BBB and the infrastructure bill help them immensely, just like Obamacare did but they’ll constantly talk smack about it and libs for supporting it.
What they *want* is to be in power and have their way the way it’s always been. We can’t offer that – all the cookies in the world can’t turn back the clock or restore their mythicized golden era. We should listen and tried to give what they ask anyways but would be foolish to think that will somehow endear us to them.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
These two statements are in conflict:
If we know what they want they must be a monolith.
But I don’t think they’re a monolith, entirely. Every group or population has internal factions. We don’t need ‘them,’ we just need 10% of them. in fact, all we really need is about 10% of them in Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona.
We don’t need them to love us. All we really need is a few more discouraged right wing voters in a handful of states.
Karl Rove was right to say every election is now a turnout election. Republicans have acted accordingly. They understand long-term demographic trends are not on their side, when younger Americans are not only more diverse than ever, but more hostile to conservative than ever. Lengthening lifespans have bought them time, but everyone is going to pass on.
So how are Republicans managing to fight to a draw? By maximing their own turnout (via culture war, fearmongering, race-baiting etc) and depressing Democratic turnout (via obstruction, vote suppression, and BoThSiDeS propaganda).
Democrats in Georgia are now emulating this strategy to some success, totally focused on maximizing base voter turnout while exploiting Republican divisions that depress Republican turnout. That’s how they surprised the pundits and flipped both Georgia Senate seats on Jan 5, 2021. The feat was immediately overshadowed by the Jan 6 attack, so Democrats seem to have missed the listen. Still putting too much emphasis on “unity” and “bipartisanship” at expense of appealing to core demographics.
Look at the refusal to cancel the tiny bit of student debt Biden could cancel with the stroke of a pen, an easy win that could fuel youth voter turnout in the midterms. Democrats are hellbent on depressing their own turnout.
@Steven L. Taylor: A recent article in Texas Monthly pointed out that Republicans are making inroads into the Latino population, particularly in the Rio Grande valley. One sentiment that was expressed frequently is, “Don’t treat us as all being immigrants. We’ve been here longer than the Anglos.”
@Jay L Gischer: I agree–but adaptation is the key to sustained competitive advantage.
Im not in the politics game–but I’d imagine that there is a back in forth between Party officials selling a vision and the donors expected outcome. After all, what we have now in rural America’s information environment wasn’t originally organic. It was part of a vision to build a minority firewall–by any means necessary.
Remember Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy? It takes a leader to say, “Here is how we are going to kick these people in the ass and challenge them. Write me a check so we can get this done.”
Donald Trump outflanked the rural people who were content with the Party lead by Country Club Republicans….by bringing in new R voters that hate Country Clubbers.
The same strategy is available to Democrats either in the form of cultivating new Democratic voters (who actually do exist in these area but simply aren’t engaged at all) to close margins OR working through groups like Lincoln Project to escalate the Red on Red war against the crazies.
They should ask Bloomberg to throw some cash at it—There is no reason under the sun that Florida, Georgia, and NC shouldn’t be Moderate Dem states (Except that the Party really isn’t competing there).
This might work if we had an electoral system that produces legislative majorities that reflect what a majority of voters want, but we don’t. This fundamental disconnect is what I am usually writing about when I talk about flaws in our institutions.
Electoral outcomes in the US are determined substantially by human-determined lines, from the states themselves and the districts within them.
Further, as I also point out all the time, people don’t actually vote based on policy outcomes as much as we think they do. Party identification matters.
@Steven L. Taylor: BTW, not just lines on the map–but the point being that you have to remember that voters are captured, so to speak, bu geography and this creates a mathematical circumstance wherein finding policy goals via polling to appeal to the right segments from state-to-state and district-to-district is not as easy as it sounds.
@Jim Brown 32:
More accurately there are lots of donors giving lots of money to lots of disparate politicians. Don’t assume a lot of centralization. (Some, but not nearly as much as these kinds of conversations tend to assume).
Moreover, there is fertile ground for the GOP in many Latino communities–they are often dispositional conservative, and a lot of them are Evangelicals. A lot are obviously also conservative Catholics for whom things like abortion is very important. The GOP could do better with them than they do, but the white supremacy thing doesn’t help.
@KM: This betrays that you really don’t comprehend the battlefield dynamics They say there are no bad dogs–only bad dog owners. And that is because most owners have no clue of the instincts of dogs. They treat them as if they were people (who are also pack animals but with obviously different rules that canine packs). When one understands the language and culture of pack animals–it becomes quite easy for the dog to accept you as the unquestioned leader of the “pack” and follow your lead.
Conversely, if one behaves in a way that sends mixed messages to the dog–it might think you are confirming that IT is indeed the leader of the pack. In which case, there will be conflict when giving the dog commands for things it doesn’t already want to do. After all–its the leader. It gets to do what it wants.
In the same way–Liberals that control the Democratic party machine do not understand rural culture and its Southern derivative. To be fair, the same dynamic exists in reverse between rural citizens, Southerners, and everybody else.
So to think you can just come to these areas with policy that “make their lives better”–is putting the cart WAYYYYYY before the horse. 95% of these people are too busy hustling out a living to know the details of any finer policy disputes, economic philosophies, etc. They act off the queues of the community pack leaders who run these areas. “I never seen a poor man give anyone a job…” That’s undisputed in these areas because all the economic scraps in the County come off the table of the handful of Boss Hawgs that run these areas. I might add that the majority of people in the pack leader roles are themselves useful idiots who aren’t invested in the means of political control as long as they continue to dominate their local pond.
This is a trust issue–Liberals are evil because their is a giant megaphone shouting it everywhere in these areas…with zero pushback. I suppose years ago–the fairness doctrine was the forcing function to get more than one megaphone in the area. Thats gone now and there is no replacement. Even outside of Florida rural areas that I’ve visited–“Conservative” propaganda is virtually unchallenged on the TV and radio. Not that the average working Joe/Jill is listening to this–but their pack leaders and the people they trust ARE. They are the influencers to why the only consideration on whether something is a good idea–is if its suggested by someone with a D or R after their name.
@Steven L. Taylor: Its worse than I thought then. Because you have a organization that makes more coordinated, deliberate moves–vs an uncoordinated organization that acts disparately.
Not hard to predict which organization will have sustained success over a longer period of time–especially when one organization is in DIRECT competition against the other. And the other is competing to win voters over with with academic discussions of policy and culture
@Jim Brown 32:
Yup. There is no mechanism in US politics that can truly coordinate the parties. The closest we get is every four years when a singular campaign can at least control the message of one candidate (who is, nonetheless, elected via 51 different elections and not just one).
@Jim Brown 32:
There’s also the (not unwarranted) perception that the libs are “here to save you” rather than “help you get what you want”. Farmers and rural folk don’t see themselves as people who need to be “saved” from anything–especially by some urban elites.
This goes back to messaging–and how the Dems suck at it. One example I keep bringing up is “free health care”. When it’s pushed as “socialized” or “free”, the message behind it is “you’re obviously too poor to afford this, so we’ll give you a hand-out”. Describe it as “bringing down medical prices” and the message is “because those fat-cats are getting paid too much”.
The “we’ll give it to you” approach also has dependency hanging over it. What happens when all medicine is supplied through the government–and the government starts deciding that those poor people in the fields don’t need it? Rural people are proud (not saying that’s a good thing, just that it exists) and don’t want to be dependent on the government. This, of course, ignores all the ways that they already are–but those can mostly be hidden and not seen as a hand-out.
Dems have a lot of programs and goals that fit quite well with rural voters (especially in the north and upper-midwest). They just can’t be bothered to work on their messaging past “We subsidize corn!”
@Jim Brown 32:
There is very much something to this. I live and work in a very red part of a red state (redder than Florida). And I have had conversations with people who should have been happy to receive support from the feds during Covid but instead saw it as handouts they didn’t want to take. I know of one person who was clearly qualified for unemployment benefits, but who refused to take them (this from a family who already received SNAP, but the disconnect is real).
There is a philosophy in a lot of rural America (and non-rural America) that teaches that everyone should work hard and everything that one has is from hard work and no one should take handouts. That they get a lot of things from the government doesn’t strike them. It is why Obama got in trouble for “you didn’t build that”–he was right, but many, many people are certain that they built it.
@Jim Brown 32:
Also from social media, the television, radio, and partisans they trust because they are in the same tribe.
But given the structure of federal agriculture policy, the irony is great–and this is a lesson of the difficulty of getting people to see the connection between policy and their lives.
It is a version of “keep the government out of my Medicare.”
@Steven L. Taylor:
Quite. Which is why I say it’s an issue of messaging, not policy.
@Mu Yixiao: I agree in part. I am not sure it is solely a matter of messaging, because it is about culture and identity and not just what people call things.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Then I’m not explaining myself properly. It’s not about the names, it’s about directing the message (which is more than just the words, it’s about intent and feedback) about policies and goals in ways that match the cultural norms and expectations of rural populations.
Socialized medicine, for example. Step back from the idea of the government handling everything, and promote The Marketplace–heavily subsidized healthcare that goes through traditional insurance companies–which have staff they went to school with, and offices down the street between the bar and the hardware store. It accomplishes the same thing, but isn’t a) “socialist”, b) “imposed on us by the government out in DC”, or c) a handout.
Changing the labels is one of the steps–but it’s just the first one. Shift the entire approach from “here’s a handout” to “we help our own”. You get to the same place (essentially universal coverage), but do so within the flows of the rural culture.
@Steven L. Taylor:
A lot of the “country of origin” distinctions collapse down into the three groups, at least at a first order level. Cubans pretty much all consider themselves falling into the “white Hispanic” group. Mexico has various subgroups that identify as falling into all three categories (e.g. Mestizos tend to identify as white hispanics, Nahuas tend to identify as indigenous hispanics, etc.)
@Stormy Dragon: Speaking as a guy who started his career studying Latin America (and lived there for a year), I think you are straining to make those categories fit and would still state that there is a lot more complexity to Latino public opinion than you are ascribing here.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Well yes, any sociological category is necessarily going to represent a simplification of the vast and varied tapestry of human existence. The question is whether or not it’s a useful simplification. And I didn’t make those three categories up myself, so obviously some people studying it find it a useful distinction, because they keep writing about it.
@Stormy Dragon: FWIW, I am not saying those distinctions are meaningless. I am noting that when it comes to voting patterns I am not sure it is as helpful as some other ways of thinking about the issue.