It isn’t doing the Democratic Party any favors either.
“David Shor is Telling Democrats What They Don’t Want to Hear,” (again) and the New York Times’ Ezra Klein is repeating it for good measure.
“I think the core problem with the Democratic Party is that the people who run and staff the Democratic Party are much more educated and ideologically liberal and they live in cities, and ultimately our candidate pool reflects that,” David Shor told the Times.
Politico, for its part, agrees wholeheartedly with Shor’s assessment, calling it “The Democrats’ Privileged College-Kid Problem.” Other publications have been shouting the same thing from the rooftops for months now, even years.
Whether Democratic Party elites will listen, however, is doubtful. Not since conservatives were in control of all the major institutions, corporations, and cultural influencers has any group been so drunk on its own self-important feelings of moral superiority.
Everyone- from moderate Democrats to veteran Democratic Party strategists- has been warning that upper and middle class liberals on Twitter don’t speak for the majority of the party, however loudly they speak. Progressives getting too high on their own supply, swimming in online echo chambers and clamoring for more censorship of political opinions contrary to their own are driving independents and moderates out of the party.
It is probable that Twitter progressives joining in every new pile-on know this.
It isn’t so much that they don’t want to hear it as they just don’t seem to care. In the media, traditional and indie, progressives too busy trying to out-outrage each other for ad clicks- “Jesus Christ: White Supremacy’s Ultimate Slave Master,”and “Larry Elder is the Black Face of White Supremacy,” being two recent examples.
In their well-meaning crusade to be the first to call out some symbol of injustice hiding in plain sight, they are losing sight of what it means to be progressive, to say the least.
It does not mean consistently siding with the federal government, intelligence agencies, corporations, corporate media outlets, Wall Street and social media billionaires over working-class people.
It is these working-class people who have been leaving as the party has moved sharply left. They feel left behind by globalism, marginalized by politicians who got wealthy sending their jobs to places with lower labor standards and fewer environmental regulations.
The Democratic Party, as experts and strategists of both major parties and everyone in between have rightly noticed, has become, without meaning to, the party of the elites. Democrats control 27 of the 30 wealthiest districts in the country; 10 years ago, the opposite was true.
From Manhattan to Hollywood, the wealthy liberal jet-set has a political temperature well to the left of their working-class counterparts. This fact is generally looked upon as a mere glitch, if it is mentioned at all.
Usually, it isn’t.
Enter David Shor, who last made waves- and was cancelled and fired from his job- when he reminded the denizens of Twitter last year that violence during demonstrations tipped an election to Richard Nixon once upon a time- a verifiable, historical fact.
His latest assessment isn’t likely to be any more popular, even if it is just as true.
“If you look inside the Democratic Party, there are three times more moderate or conservative nonwhite people than very liberal white people, but very liberal white people are infinitely more represented. That’s morally bad, but it also means eventually they’ll leave.”
And leave they have; breaking the party line to vote for Donald Trump in 2016. After four years of relentless attacks from the press, even moreformer-Democrats voted for him in 2020.
“Defunding the police,” though Democrats disagree about exactly how much it has hurt the party and more realistic criminal justice reform efforts, mostly- if grudgingly- agree that the unfortunately-named zeitgeist was more emotional than logical or practicable.
Of course privileged college kids and wealthy liberals think defunding the police is a great idea; neither they nor anyone they know has ever been the victim of a violent crime. Neither they nor anyone they know has been impacted by mass incarceration, either.
In neighborhoods and communities where crime has gone up significantly over the past year, they feel somewhat differently. They want more policing,not less. Is it any wonder? According to the FBI, the murder rate went up 30% last year- the biggest increase on record.
Don’t be in a hurry to blame the pandemic, either; almost every country that tracks such data reported a drop in crime during the same time period.
But crime isn’t really the reason Democratic and Independent voters have abandoned the idea of policing reform- and the Democratic Party- at least in the short term. Elite progressives aggressively pushing defunding is the cause, crime is only the result. As is the public’s newly ravenous appetite for more policing in their neighborhoods.
While wealthy progressives cloistered in protected enclaves in Manhattan turned their snooty noses up at tough-on-crime, former NYPD officer Eric Adams, people from the boroughs not known for armed security guards and doormen voted overwhelmingly for him.
Adams recently became the Democratic Party’s candidate for NYC Mayor after he won the primary- carrying every borough but Manhattan.
It isn’t crime, or even fear of crime which is driving otherwise progressive voters to abandon the idea of criminal justice system reform- or the Democratic Party altogether.
It is the sure knowledge that elite Democratic Party decision-makers, mega-donors, career politicians and rich college kids won’t pay the price for misguided policies.
Democratic Party decision-makers are simply too far-removed for their working-class voters.
“The chain of logic is this,” says Ezra Klein, paraphrasing the prevailing wisdom of David Shor: “Democrats are on the edge of an electoral abyss. To avoid it, they need to win states that lean Republican. To do that, they need to internalize that they are not like and do not understand the voters they need to win over. Swing voters in these states are not liberals, are not woke and do not see the world in the way that the people who staff and donate to Democratic campaigns do.”
Until Democrats can again see things from the perspective of working-class voters, especially those living in rural areas, these voters will continue to abandon the party.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)