Here and there you can find tiny rays of light among the liberal Gotterdammerung—liberals who understand that their rage against the country isn’t serving their cause. Even Salon—Salon!!—has run a piece about “The Smug Style of Liberalism” that grudgingly acknowledges that expressing open contempt for vast swaths of fellow citizens isn’t likely to be useful in regaining a majority in future elections.
But even this effort at telling liberals not to be condescending fails because it is written from the premise of condescension. Like this:
[I]t is hardly smug to point out that American voters are overwhelmingly ignorant and uninformed about politics and government, or that Trump supporters are particularly misinformed. Nor is it smug to correct someone when they state an obvious falsehood, or to challenge the nonsensical rhetoric of a demagogue like Trump.
And then of course you get a dollop of “Beyondism” by which “smart” liberals signal their superiority to everyone:
It is smug, however, to disparage people for “voting against their interests” when in reality both parties have failed to adequately address the real problems facing poor and working-class communities across America today.
Let’s see: Is Texas, the reddest state, performing poorly when it comes to working class citizens? This must be why so few people are moving there, and why housing prices are so sky high, and why job and income growth are so slow. (/sarc.)
Still, Salon’s writer does come to this halfway sensible conclusion (if you set aside the tacit premise):
As Donald Trump and his Republican colleagues continue to screw over poor and working-class people in the days and months ahead, Democrats will have a perfect opportunity to expose the president as the fraud that he has always been and reclaim the “party of the people” title. Cheering as people lose their health insurance may not be the best way to go about this.
But this won’t do at all for Frank Rich, formerly the chief George W. Bush hater at the New York Times, now writing at New York magazine. His offering today is “No Sympathy for the Hillbilly.” No—no condescension here. The subtitle is even better: “Democrats need to stop trying to feel everyone’s pain, and hold on to their own anger.” What is this—a Darth Vader audition? “Hang on to your hate Democrats—give in to the Dark Side of the Force!”
The article is very loooongg, and so I don’t recommend it. But there are a few irresistible highlights, starting with this:
Americans below the top of the heap, with or without college degrees and regardless of race, have been ill served by the axis of Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, and the Davos-class donor base that during Bill Clinton’s presidency helped grease the skids for the 2008 economic collapse and allowed the culprits to escape from the wreckage unscathed during Barack Obama’s.
Now just hold on there for a moment. As David Bernstein of the Scalia Law School at George Mason University asks, imagine the reaction if a Republican had “singled out two Jews while talking about economic collapse and wealthy donors. It would be condemned as anti-Semitic.”
[It is] 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. . .
There’s no way liberals can counter these voters’ blind faith in a huckster who’s sold them this snake oil. The notion that they can be won over by some sort of new New Deal — “domestic programs that would benefit everyone (like national health insurance),” as Mark Lilla puts it — is wishful thinking. . .
Perhaps it’s a smarter idea to just let the GOP own these intractable voters.
Cue the scuba-breather sound effect: Give in to the dark side!