The uncivil election

David Lebedoff is a Minneapolis attorney and long-time friend. David is also the author of my two favorite books on Minnesota politics, The Twenty-First Ballot: A Political Party Struggle in Minnesota and Ward Number 6. Most recently, he is the author of the widely reviewed and admired The Uncivil War: How a New Elite is Destroying Our Democracy, published this fall just before the election. David has now forwarded to us “IT’S CALLING PEOPLE STUPID, STUPID,” in which he applies the thesis of The Uncivil War to the outcome of the election:

This is so simple. It’s astonishing that they still don’t get it. “They” is the people who write and fund the ads and run the campaigns and control the nominations of the Democratic party.
It’s a relatiavely small group of people. Most Democrats are not allowed to participate in the workings of their party. Most Republicans, who in truth are remarkably like most Democrats, face the same exclusion–but that’s another article. This one is about why Democrats keep on losing elections.
Voters may not be fully consulted on who the presidential contestants are, but they are absolutely free to choose between them. And they keep voting against the Democrat.
Read that again. They aren’t voting for anyone as much as they are voting against the Democrat. They are voting against the Democrat in election after election, because they think that the Democrat thinks that they’re stupid.
And they are right. Oh, maybe the candidate doesn’t think that they’re stupid, but if everyone around the candidate does, and says so, what else are people to think?
What people think is that those who are quick to call others stupid must think of themselves as awfully smart. In fact, smarter than everyone else.
There is indeed a new social class comprised of those who think that they’re smarter than everyone else. I call them the New Elite. This new class has been waging war, very successfully, against majority rule for decades now, through a combination of altered rules, political correctness, and judicial activism, so that now most people in both parties really feel left behind.
Most Democrats aren’t members of the New Elite but most (not all) of the New Elite are Democrats, and they’re the ones who the voters see. They’re the ones that say the things that make people for the Republican.
And what they don’t say is important, too. They never talk about tradition or experience or values. Because if you’re smarter than everyone else, what really matter isn’t values but rather the newest untested idea that you’ve just come up with.
The silence about values turns off even more voters than does the habit of calling “stupid” anyone who disagrees with you.
Most Americans, from both parties, rely heavily on moral (not necessarily religious) values. But you’d never know that by the way the handlers handle the Democrat. In the second debate of the last campaign, in answering a question about stem cell research, Bush spoke of ethics and Kerry of data. To know who “won” the debate, look at the election returns.
One of the reasons that Bush detractors call him stupid is that the President speaks no foreign language (excepting some campaign Spanish) and seems quite uninterested in the cultures of other countries. (John Kerry courted his wife in French, and she speaks five languages.)
So here’s the point: how stupid would somebody be who didn’t even speak the language of his own country? Pretty dumb, huh? And that’s just how monumentally stupid the New Elite is–these people don’t know enough about most Americans to be able even to speak to them–let alone win their votes.
Democrats have as many moral values as Republicans, but not the Democrats who the voters see. The New Elite shuns values because you can’t quantify them like–well, like test scores. The new class disdains experience because the lessons of history only tell us what people did do, and therefore might do, not what they should do.
The point is not that you have to tell voters only what they want to hear. You don’t. But you do have to speak their language. Not to speak it is insulting. If you move to France and insist on speaking only English you will be insulting the French. You will never be in a position to win them over.
Behaving this way in one’s own country is very, very stupid–just to steal the favorite word of those who are illiterate in their own national culture. Technically they speak the same language as their fellow Americans, but in fact they do not, because they never mention the things that concern most Americans. This is stupid.
Refusing to express one’s values is stupid–it makes people think that you don’t have any values. Insisting that experts always know better than voters is stupid, and, by the way, unconstitutional. Association only with people who think exactly like oneself is stupid, and very boring.
Not understanding the strength and depth and moral underpinning of one’s own country is the stupidist thing of all–except of course for explaining repeated election losses only by assuming that the voters are stupid.


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