Don Escaped _______ posted an interesting article that had far more math regarding this November, so this is my contribution using no sciencing at all, but rather some thoughts based upon my own lived experience and what it might mean for the upcoming Election of DOOM. This was sparked by a comment on Swiss Servator’s 7/20 “links of afternooning.” straffinrun-san posted Matt Taibi’s article of dawning self-awareness called “The Left is Now the Right.” You don’t need to read it, though I would commend it to you, but I’ll summarize for the busy, lazy, and apathetic: (my words)
We used to laugh at the Bush conservatives and all of those Republicans who were such prudes about sex and other culture war issues. But at least we controlled the Media and so we could descend on them at school board meetings and mock them as the Puritan wanna-bes that we all knew they were. But holy shit! The Left has gone insane and you can’t even argue with them because they’re the bureaucrats and others in places of power. Whoops!
blackjack, straff, and Viking all had a similar to the one reaction that I did, which was that there were always moral scolds among Team Blue, include Al and Tipper Gore (as two glaring examples), of which Taibi seems to be blissfully ignorant. To be charitable, Taibi’s had a somewhat eclectic upbringing, including being raised as the son of an NBC reporter and living in relatively affluent areas, attending private schools, and studying abroad in college. (And no, Wikipedia, Concord, MA isn’t really the “Boston suburbs,” but nice try.) That seeming bit of “too local” Boston snobbery collided with Taibi’s blind spot and a lightbulb went off in my head.
My dad, by almost any metric – except one – is conservative. He left high school at the age of 15 to join a Catholic seminary, but only lasted about 6 weeks before my grandmother and grandfather had to go get him. Nonetheless, he remained much more than a cafeteria catholic during my childhood, with all of the attendant hang-ups and guilt, but little of the doctrinal grounding. Dad was also a die-hard, blue-collar democrat, once even running for some minor office as a (D) in Johnston when I was a kid. He lost to another (D) – ‘cuz it’s Rhode Island and there are no Republicans. (I keed, I keed).
“Party of the workin’ man,” my dad once told me when young me asked why he was a democrat. This made him identical to a huge swath of New England, with its roots in stern religiosity. No, it is nothing like the bible belt, but dad was raised by god-fearing catholics and he got along just fine with my (first) wife’s Irish catholic parents from South Boston. Dad of the French-Canadian descent got on famously with my ex-mother-in-law, God rest her blessed Irish soul, right off of the boat from Galway Bay, IRL. She originally came from the small town of Claddagh, famous for the ring that many micks wear as a kind of alternate or second wedding band. If the heart faces inward, you’re taken… but If it’s outward, she’s available boys!
Anyway, while I was thinking about the differences between the “alleged” Boston suburbs – of affluence – like Taibi’s Concord, or other places closer-in like Milton, or even Hingham on the South Shore, I also was minded of the working class ‘burbs I was more familiar with, like Braintree, Quincy, and Weymouth, or my own childhood haunts a little further to the south in another rock-solid, Team Blue state like Rhode Island, with its high-end areas like the East Side of Providence near Brown University, as distinct from the… ahem, decidedly less affluent areas of my mom and dad.
Despite those cultural differences and even animosities, however, all of those areas and ethnicities, including blacks in the projects, all voted Team Blue; monolithically, in many cases, as a matter of straight-line ticket voting and generational pride… and notwithstanding Catholic doctrine regarding abortion and Team Blue’s position on it. Which has always struck me as a separate and fascinating bit of political anthropology. I asked my mother-in-law about it once. We were sitting in her living room, the front room of a typical Southie house, right on East 5th Street in the City Point area and I asked her how she could square her vote for democrats with being a catholic.
“Mister ________,” she began in her thick brogue, using my last name whenever she was about to lecture me, “every good Irish family in Massa-chooo-sits has tooo pictures on their wall: one of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the other of Jack Kennedy. Now don’t be a wise guy.” And she went back to her knitting. She knew exactly what I was getting at, but like most religious (and) conservative democrats, she wasn’t voting on that issue. It hit way too close to home for many Irish catholics (in my experience), so no one wanted the government’s hand in abortion: we’d like to keep our mistakes and sins quiet, thankyouverymuch. This is not an attack, by the way, because my own experience was much the same with the hardscrabble places I grew up, with conservative Italian catholics the dominant minority – again, still reliably Team Blue and pro-union guys for generations (go figyah… and mind ya own business and fuhgeddaboutit.) No, both of those groups were voting “D” on a different platform, and I also found it interesting that neither of those groups were exactly, uhhh, warm with some of their fellow team members… particularly those who were melanin-privileged and lived near them in the inner cities. Yet that has long been the coalition that fueled democratic electoral success.
Now let me back up a bit to the 2016 election. Don Escaped’s article sagely points out what I think is now the well-established electoral reality of Trump’s win: he ran the “Midwest gauntlet” by winning just enough blue-collar, (previously) reliable rust-belt Democrat voters and that spelled Hillary’s doom. But here’s where Don and I may part company in regards to our view of what that means.
I don’t think Trump’s win was an accident or good luck. Don has posited that it would be statistically difficult to run such a gauntlet again – but that presumes that Trump’s win was a “one-time” thing, like winning the lottery, or due to simply how uniquely horrible Hillary was as a candidate, rather than being indicative of some deeper electoral shift that we may be witnessing… But let’s put a pin in this for a moment.
In the immediate aftermath of the election, what with all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth, while most of the media lost their minds, I remember seeing an interview a few days later with a couple of insiders in Trump’s campaign and they described their strategy. I was blown away because they described exactly what they needed to do to win and to whom they were making their pitch. Trump’s campaign knew they had to thread a needle and they absolutely did it. It might be the greatest election strategy and coup ever, but leave it to the MSM to completely bury all of that – and destroy any shred of introspection about Herself’s massive failures, much less Trump’s successes.
I engaged in a bit of excessive schadenfreude over Hillary’s loss in a prior article here, but my larger point was to put lie to the notion that Trump won because of either of the two prevalent theories floated by dems and the Media for Her loss: that it was racism and/or misogyny that handed Trump the presidency. Indeed, it is my continued belief based upon the county-by-county results that those rust belt voters in Wisconsin, Ohio, et al., the same Team Blue stalwarts who had twice previously voted for Obama – and for decades helped ensure democrats won those cities – those who flipped to Trump didn’t do it ‘cuz bigotry. More importantly, after considering Taibi’s blindspot about traditionally socially conservative dems, I’ve begun to think that perhaps what we witnessed, and will witness again, is a shift in voting blocs, one that prognosticators looking at stats and polls are likely to miss.
Electoral wins are made up of coalitions of voters, regardless of the fact that we’re a two-party system. Indeed, it may be precisely because we’re a two-party system that voting coalitions are somewhat invisible. For many, many years, democrats have relied upon a coalition of disparate groups to win elections, including (a) a near-monopoly on the minority vote, particularly the black vote, and principally in inner cities; (b) a rock-solid base of support from unions, from blue-collar to public sector; and (c) the Woketarians – academics and activists, from the Greens (of the environment) to the Greens (of envy). Trump seemingly cracked that coalition, benefiting from Hillary’s awfulness in two ways: first, in peeling off some of those blue collar voters, and second, in black voters having noticeably lower turnout in 2016. Of course, that was always going to be the case for any democrat post-Obama, and perhaps that’s being overlooked, as well. Hillary got 88% of the black vote, which is an electoral rout by any definition… but Obama had pulled 93% of a larger turnout.
…Which brings me to what we’re seeing in cities across the country right now. I have this grotesque feeling that we’re watching performance art. The democrats are conducting one of (if not THE) most base appeals to any voting bloc we’ve ever witnessed. This isn’t simply the “free shit” brigade. Just think about everything that’s been said and done by Team Blue politicos, from George Floyd’s hagiography and elevation to martyr status, to the takeover of Seattle, to BLM being painted on the streets by the Mayor of New York City himself, down to serious and repeated calls for special status for blacks over whites: this is Team Blue pulling out every stop for the black vote. It’s so clear to me now it might as well be written by a plane in the sky.
Look at what we’ll do. We’ll get whites to prostrate themselves before you. We’ll change the laws; we’ll look the other way on acts of violence, even against your own. We’ll ignore overt anti-semitism by the black community and still give you Reparations; we’ll even abandon our cop unions for you. We’ll make our VP choice a black woman, at a time when it’s likely our Presidential candidate is incompetent and incapable of fulfilling his term. That’s right – we’ll give you the Presidency!
I can’t get my head around it, really. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems an awful lot for a group that is, mathematically speaking, only (at high estimates) 1/7 of the population, and probably less than that as a voting bloc.
Trump was polling at historically high numbers for a Republican among blacks earlier this year. Major black cultural icons have come out in support of Trump, including on criminal justice reform. Think about that for a second. Then Biden goes on a radio show and absolutely puts his foot in his mouth regarding the black vote being a lock for him and Dems, something he could ill afford to do. Shortly thereafter, we had the George Floyd incident and The Reactions (as distinct from any of the instances of police brutality that had happened to POCs before Joe from Scranton told blacks they weren’t… you know… The Color if they didn’t vote for him).
So, I return to those rust belt voters, those socially conservative dems who have always pulled the lever for any Donkey… until they didn’t. I think about the people I know from my own reliable dem strongholds and I wonder: are they suddenly going to feel welcome coming back to the current democratic party? Is Joe Incomprehensible Biden going to bring them home?? Because he isn’t the voice of the democrats at all. Are all of the voters who were called racist and deplorable in the lead-up to 2016 suddenly going to pull the lever after 4 years more of being called racists?? Are those union voters in Wisconsin and Ohio feeling the love from their fellow democrats, feeling that they’re a part of the team?? All while the loudest among the dems keep yelling about how it’s all a zero sum game?
Will the black community suddenly come back in large enough numbers for Babbling Biden because he was Obama’s guy? And are the “Rust Belt Racists” going to suddenly find their inner Lincoln… while they’re watching dems tear down statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and… Abe Lincoln? There are certainly other confounding factors here. Maybe Pandemic Pandemonium will bring in the Karens in sufficient numbers to offset any losses. And maybe the dems’ strategy of going hard Left, burning and looting, is really “Berning! and Looting!” to bring home the disaffected Leftists of Senator Sanders… (‘cuz we know they like to break other people’s shit – and skulls).
Let’s suppose it doesn’t work, however. Let’s suppose for a moment that I’m right and we’re in a post-2020 election world where Trump has won. Let’s also presume that the numbers show that he held what he got last time, when he was merely the possible-Pussy Grabber-in-Chief in the leadup to the election, as opposed to the now-Impeached Incumbent. Will any of the analysis include the rich irony that it might well be blacks, a distinct minority, who have a position that libertarians have always envied and yet never been able to explicitly market: being a controlling minority voting bloc that can swing Presidential elections between Team Red and Team Blue? Could Kanye West be the Jill Stein/Ralph Nader of 2020??
Trump is what he was, in my opinion, and Russiagate is starting to turn towards indictments. (Not for anyone that matters, but the Truth Will Out eventually). My view is that the polls no longer matter, if they ever did, and 538 can run as many algorithms as it wants with neat tails and error bars. I’m hard-pressed to believe that Trump, who most of his life was a moderate NYC democrat by any fair definition, is somehow driving away his voters from 2016 in sufficient numbers to matter. But I know that what I’ve witnessed since 2016 by the Donkeys has hardened me against them in a way I would never have thought possible. Fifteen years ago I volunteered for an upstart running for Senate against a longtime incumbent in Virginia. James Webb won that race calling himself a Jacksonian democrat. His status as a war hero and best-selling author certainly helped. His history as Reagan’s SecNav probably did, too, although Team Blue folks rubbed his face in the fact and said he wasn’t even a real Dem. In 2016 I was prepared to vote for Webb if he had won Team D’s nomination.
Now I can safely say I will never vote for democrat again – ever. Again, I’m one data point and there are a LOT of confounding events at play. I’m not suggesting that it’s 1968 all over again, because Trump isn’t Nixon and Biden isn’t Hubert Humphrey, but I wonder if maybe we’re all asking the wrong question.
Maybe we should be asking if democrats can be all things to all voting constituencies in the way they’re doing it. Can they bring back their blue-collar, union voters from 2012 with “Gibbering Joe And You Know – The Thing!” while simultaneously winking at BIPOC and saying “Don’t worry, you’re Getting the Presidency?” Is cancelling the names of Native American professional and amateur sports teams really going to resonate in Madison and Cleveland (home of the Tribe??)
In short, maybe we should be asking if Joe Addlebrained Biden can thread THAT needle with the voters that matter, and can he do it from his basement?
VDH isn’t the only person with eyes that can see.