There is, in some precincts on the left, an earnest attempt to understand Trump voters, those strange creatures that are standing by their man, and figure out how the Democrats might win them back.
During the campaign I talked about Donald Democrats and how the billionaire’s appeal to working-class folks might help him win the election, as he did in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The Dems used to be the party of the working class, but Trump made a connection that the party of global trade deals and climate change failed to forge.
“Democrats often sound patronizing when speaking of Trump voters…It’s hard to win over voters whom you’re insulting,” New York Times columnist Nick Kristof wrote last month.
But now there’s a counterargument emerging about Trump voters, which can be summarized thusly: Screw ’em.
This mad-as-hell view has been galvanized by reports that many Trump voters may lose their health insurance if the House version of ObamaCare repeal passes. The liberal gloaters say it serves them right.
From this perspective, those voters are too dumb to vote in their own economic self-interest and they’re probably gone for good. So it’s better to energize the Bernie Sanders base than to struggle to understand why many blue-collar Americans feel alienated from the Obama/Clinton party.
Frank Rich, the former Times columnist now with New York magazine, makes this argument in ridiculing what he calls Hillbilly Chic.
He questions whether “pandering” to Trump voters is “another counterproductive detour into liberal guilt, self-flagellation, and political correctness.” Rather than feeling everyone’s pain, “might the time have at last come for Democrats to weaponize their anger instead of swallowing it?”
Rich admits that “the party is a wreck,” with no power and most of its leaders “of Social Security age.” But he sees Trump voters as basically synonymous with the GOP:
“That makes it all the more a fool’s errand for Democrats to fudge or abandon their own values to cater to the white-identity politics of the hard-core, often self-sabotaging Trump voters who helped drive the country into a ditch on Election Day. If we are free to loathe Trump, we are free to loathe his most loyal voters, who have put the rest of us at risk.”
Sounds like Frank is weaponizing his own anger.
I just don’t get the loathing, unless you subscribe to the view that anyone who supports Trump is by definition odious. If the Democrats write off everyone who backed Trump, even if it was because they didn’t trust Hillary, aren’t they making it harder to put together an electoral majority of liberals and minorities?
Salon takes a different tack with a critical piece titled “The Smug Style in American Politics.” (There are photos of Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann, though they have nothing to do with the article.)
The story by Conor Lynch says the Democratic view is of “large numbers of American people voting against their apparent interests because of their ignorance and cultural backwardness.
“After decades of watching millions of Americans vote for right-wing charlatans who advocated economic policies that serve the wealthy and screw everyone else, some liberals have basically given up on appealing to these perceived yokels, who seem to care more about criminalizing abortion and hoarding guns than obtaining health are and decent wages. They are dumb, credulous and often intolerant; so why should we — progressive, rational, forward-thinking liberals — sympathize or try to reason with them? Let them lose their health care; maybe they’ll learn something this time around (though we all know they won’t).”
Lynch concludes that both parties have failed these voters and that “cheering as people lose their health insurance may not be the best way to go about this.”
We live in a divided country. And when Barack Obama won in 2008, some of those who opposed him tried to marginalize him and vowed to “take our country back.”
Do some in Obama’s party want to do the same thing now? Blame not just the Republican president but the 60 million people who put him in the White House? Isn’t that a big, well, smug?
Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.