Advice from across the pond
I listened to The Bulwark podcast yesterday and heard Mona's frustration -- bordering on anger -- that some folks on the Twittersphere confused her with being part of The Lincoln Project. To my mind, we need a robust ecosystem of allies moving forward to defeat Trumpism and the authoritarians. Each has its own role to play. I support the Bulwark, the Repub. Accountability Project, TLP, and now the Renew America movement. Tactics and roles are different, but we all have the same overarching objective. TLP went through a near-death experience and has come back, and we need them to be the point of the spear. No one gets inside the head of the Orange Poobah better than they do. I am probably not alone among your subscribers in financially supporting both Bulwark and TLP
So keep doing what you do -- and let's not speak or think ill of our allies in this existential fight.
A little perspective on the Virginia race.
Here's some history: (Pres Election Year/Winner-Party/VA Gov Winner-Party/% of vote)
As you can see every single time, with the exception of 2012/2013 the candidate of the party opposed to the President has won the VA governorship and usually by a hefty amount. Even after Reagan's blowout 1984 re-election where he carried VA by +25(!!) the Democratic candidate won with 55% of the vote.
The only time it didn't happen? Obama's second term with Terry McAuliffe as the candidate and he just squeaked by with 48% of the vote.
So please stop with the hair on fire and fingerpointing when something just happened that has happened every election since at least 1980/1981 (I didn't go further back than that).
Even when McAuliffe did win he won with the least amount of the vote (48%). And I'm supposed to sit here in sackcloth and ashes because history reasserted itself, especially with a candidate as weak as McAuliffe?
Does it sting? Yep.
Does it feel bad? Yep.
Is it the end of Biden's presidency? Nope.
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
Green Lake: When one looks at McKelvey's Linked In page he seems an otherwise sensible guy. He's old enough to have been called "mick" as a child. He lists an association with "rinka" which is a design collective in Milwaukee. He was person of the year for the American Ligion [sic], and people seem to like him. He serves as a director for a woefully underfunded cancer “research center” ($154K per annum 2017 1040 EZ) supporting clinician based immunotherapy.
None of this either explains or excuses the downright meanness of his comments, except to say it closely mirrors the fear and hatred directed at the Irish up to and including the time of his childhood.
The last one in closes the gate? Stockholm syndrome? I have mine, the rest of you can P*** off?
I'm a bit disappointed in you again, Charlie. Because once again you say a lot without actually saying anything. Allow me to explain. If you wish to say that liberals lost because of being too 'woke' and being 'too far left' I'm going to need you to point out where and how this was the case. What you did was point to Virginia, where the former centrist governor ran on a centrist platform, refused to engage in the culture war, and ran on bread and butter issues. You also pointed to New Jersey where the popular governor did the same. Here's the thing: if you want to say that places like Virginia were lost because the democrats are too woke or too far left, I'm going to need you to bring receipts. You need to make a case. Just saying 'oh the left are too woke' without explaining what issues you think they've moved too far on is neither informative or helpful.
Since you've not explained the issue, let me take a stab at it. The problem the democrats have is one of messaging, in that they lack any message at all. They act like a parliamentary alliance between a bunch of different parties. Viewed like that, the GOP is the majority minority party; the largest party in a pie chart of other parties. But in our two party system, that would mean they'd take power most of the time. It also means that they can set the agenda even in the minority.
They can do this, because they possess intense message discipline. They can take something from nowhere (CRT! Obama's Birth Certificate! Benghazi!) and pound away at it until people assume there must be something there, that there must be some kind of truth to it. Liberals always assume that people are smarter than they seem, that surely they see through the propaganda. This is false. Most voters, most people, are morons. I am, you are, we all are about something. Humans cannot be smart about everything all the time. As a result, most people who do not pay attention to politics, ingest it in small, bite size pieces.
Liberals need to stop pretending that they don't need to engage with the culture war. They need to stop pretending that voters will simply take their data and their promises, when most voters can't see a difference between the parties. If liberals want to win, it's going to take hard message discipline, and they're going to need to take it to the GOP.
Make no mistake. The reason the dems lost in Virginia is because their candidate kept trying to avoid the issues that were set out for him, meaning CRT, because the GOP created this and made it an issue. You can talk about bread and butter issues all day long, but as Virginia showed us, it doesn't matter if the electorate is more worried about a boogeyman conjured up through message discipline.
I'm with the Never-Trumpers, Dr. Christian DeFeo from across the pond, and James Carvelle on this, 100%. I tuned into MSNBC last night to be vehemently told that the GOP won because we're all racists who support White Supremacy. How lovely for Progressives and the show's moderator that they don't have to do anything but have a knee-jerk reaction devoid of any responsibility, and no delving into the weeds to see what the exit polls had to say.
I'm a life-long democrat in my seventies, and I have lived my entire life by MLK's maxim to judge a person by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. I resent being told that I'm racist simply because I'm white and might prefer a candidate not of their choosing.
Unless and until this changes, expect today's GOP to amass all power in the next 3+ years and kiss democracy as we've known it goodbye. The fight will continue, but if we can't save it with all of the levers of government in our hands, how in the world do we reclaim it when we don't?
Charlie, what you quoted someone saying (see below) sounds to me like deeply felt but superficial bs. People are making up words and using metaphors to attack supposed factions. People with no actual knowledge are attacking verbal symbols (CRT). It's truly a mess.
" And based on the tweets I’m seeing from the left, progressives are doubling down on wokeness by declaring “White women voters are footsoldiers of white supremacist patriarchy,” whose win, they say, was merely the result of white supremacy, “whiteness,” and a “whitelash.”
This reaction to Youngkin’s victory tells you all you need to know about why he won—about why normie suburbanites feel threatened and under assault by the left."
I thought baseball season was over, but I wake up this morning and see Mona Charen and Abigail Spanberger have hit home runs. Yeah!
Will Saletan may be right that encouraging Trump to butt into future elections would be bad for Republicans and good for Democrats, but that's only because Trump's presence has reached the point of diminishing returns. Ie, the GOP has become so identified with him by now that his active manifestation is no longer necessary to spur a massive turnout by his voters. For the same reason, Saletan overemphasizes the impact of disaffected suburban swing voters compared to the Trumpy rural and exurban blowout. Sure, the suburbs were a contributing factor, but Youngkin would not have won were Trumpism not baked into Republican identity. Youngkin's success was - among other things, obviously - in getting suburbanites to look the other way.
A few things. First, this from the Matt Lewis take: "Of course, the hottest issue in Virginia had to do with education and the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT). And based on the tweets I’m seeing from the left, progressives are doubling down on wokeness..."
One of the biggest mistakes of far too many of those opining for a living is to mistake Liberal Twitter as being representative of the Democratic party and Democratic voters, like me. Well -- it's not. Twitter and Facebook are places where nuance and complexity go to die. I pay little attention to them. Newsletters like yours make up the bulk of my "social media" presence these days.
What made my city's election go in the completely opposite direction from the ones everyone's moaning about is that it was focused on the issues that matter to the people who live here. I'm sure there were voters who would willingly engage on all the social flashpoints, but none of the candidates running for any office engaged on anything other than issues. We had a Democratic sweep.
The current state of the media, with so many local news outlets decimated, means that almost all the news we consume these days is national and focused on relatively few media markets. How different and more nuanced the political climate might be if more reporting dug into the complete picture rather than cherry-picking the races they've already decided will be the national bellweathers for all political prognostication.
I don't know about you, but I'd sure like to know where things went well for Democrats, and what the national party can learn from us. I've yet to see much reporting on that, though.
Also, UK politics are so different. If he thinks people in California are going to do soul searching, it ain’t gonna happen. We don’t have a parliamentary system here where you can build a coalition government. Also, Boris believes in climate change and they have universal medicine… so super apple to oranges to me. The geographical and rural/urban divide will only deepen if the pundit echo chamber keeps airing our dirty laundry.
I just would love to read or listen to any political analysis that does not include "look what Twitter is saying". I follow online and politics in general and when I talk to other people about the so called controversies and problems facing democrats (or republicans for that matter), most people have NO IDEA what is being talked about here. Twitter is not real life and it is time to stop acting like it. These people on MSNBC or Twitter calling VA voters racists are not real life. There may be some analysis that says Youngkin played on the race/CRT factor to garner support - okay. But the Twitter folks claiming blah blah blah in Matt Lewis's piece are not real life.
In the same way people on Twitter care about racists in VA or the mob attacking the Capitol on 1/6, real people out in real America do not care about this. They also don't care about process of legislation. Honestly, they barely care about actual legislation and improving peoples lives. How is it that some random school in VA changing policies for admission could impact a race so much, yet the actual problems of crime or inflation or covid don't really move needles. And if they did, where are the proposals to solve those issues? Americans are dumb and this is not really about anything other than simple marketing and the media moving voters based on what they can input into their minds vs. how actual government can impact their lives.
James Carville needs to stop using the word “woke.” Again, anytime a by-gone Clinton advisor says things like “stupid wokeness” it further enables the left to double-down.
I think sloganeering is EXTREMELY stupid, but repeating the slogans you dislike only gives GOP more excuses to hammer us with them and increases the divide. The far left will just paint Carville as completely out of touch, which he is (as much as I enjoy him). If you want a center-left party you need to not go to war with the progressives, but help them better shape a message. Instead of “defund the police” replace it with “fire white supremacist/anti-govt cops” something I think we can all agree is a problem. Instead of socialism say “capital for the workforce.”
Repeating the slogan is as much of a problem as the slogan itself. We are partners in a bad marriage, and we need new, better ways of speaking to each other.