blueollie

The unpopularity of the Democratic Party

Yes, President Trump has historically low approval ratings (for it being this early in his administration).

That is undeniable. (this graph is via Gallup).

But ..the Democratic party...rates even LOWER

Of course, the Bernie Bros are claiming “see, you need to become more like Bernie” and they cite articles like this one:

But what this apparently means to the people who are calling for unity is getting behind the corporate, suit and tie, lobbyist-driven agenda of the establishment. But let me break it to you – the establishment has almost no grassroots momentum. Virtually every progressive grassroots movement in America right now is fueled by people outside of the Democratic Party establishment and this is a huge reason why the party is so outrageously unpopular.

Huge grassroots movements, made up of millions and millions of people, are fueling the fight for a $15 minimum wage, fighting back against fossil fuels and the Dakota Access Pipeline, fighting to end fracking, fighting to remove lobbyist money from politics, fighting to end senseless wars and international violence, fighting for universal healthcare, fighting for the legalization of marijuana, fighting for free college tuition, fighting against systems of mass incarceration, and so much more. But mainstream Democrats aren’t really a central part of any of those battles, and, to be clear, each of those issues have deep networks, energized volunteers, and serious donors, but corporate Democrats virtually ignore them.

In the past two months, I’ve spoken in a dozen states around the country and thousands of people show up. Wednesday night, in the freezing rain, lines were wrapped around multiple city blocks to attend an event I was hosting at a local Seattle high school. We literally formed the event a few days ago on Facebook and didn’t spend a single penny putting it together.

This is a breath-taking amount of ignorance. Yes, “activists” really love those things and have energy. But a tiny percentage of people can be a lot of people in a country of 320 million. That, by no stretch of the imagination, translates into something the electorate will rally around.

Riddle me this: how did left wingers do in the past election? Example: Russ Feingold lost by a larger margin than Hillary Clinton did in Wisconsin.

While left wing populism might be very inspirational to a small percentage of the population, it really isn’t a winning political coalition:

On November 20, less than two weeks after Donald Trump’s upset win, Bernie Sanders strode onto a stage at Boston’s Berklee Performance Center to give the sold-out audience his thoughts on what had gone so disastrously wrong for the Democratic Party.

Sanders had a simple answer. Democrats, he said, needed to field candidates who would unapologetically promise that they would be willing “to stand up with the working class of this country and … take on big-money interests.”

Democrats, in other words, would only be able to defeat Trump and others like him if they adopted an anti-corporate, unabashedly left-wing policy agenda. The answer to Trump’s right-wing populism, Sanders argued, was for the left to develop a populism of its own.

That’s a belief widely shared among progressives around the world. A legion of commentators and politicians, most prominently in the United States but also in Europe, have argued that center-left parties must shift further to the left in order to fight off right-wing populists such as Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen. Supporters of these leaders, they argue, are motivated by a sense of economic insecurity in an increasingly unequal world; promise them a stronger welfare state, one better equipped to address their fundamental needs, and they will flock to the left.

“[It’s] a kind of liberal myth,” Pippa Norris, a Harvard political scientist who studies populism in the United States and Europe, says of the Sanders analysis. “[Liberals] want to have a reason why people are supporting populist parties when their values are so clearly against progressive values in terms of misogyny, sexism, racism.”

The problem is that a lot of data suggests that countries with more robust welfare states tend to have stronger far-right movements. Providing white voters with higher levels of economic security does not tamp down their anxieties about race and immigration — or, more precisely, it doesn’t do it powerfully enough. For some, it frees them to worry less about what it’s in their wallet and more about who may be moving into their neighborhoods or competing with them for jobs.

Yeah, left wing populism and a focus on the poor and economic injustice may have worked…in 1932 when unemployment was at 25 percent!

But the reality is:

1. Most do not care all that much about the Dakota Access Pipeline
2. Most have little in common with those who are at risk of losing their Obamacare insurance (and many of these ignorant jackasses voted for Trump)
3. Most of us earn well above the minimum wage
4. Most are not Muslim and most do not have Muslim friends
5. Most of us do not care whether someone is offended by someone else using the “wrong” pronoun.
6. Most of us did not go out and have a bunch of kids that we could not afford to raise.

In fact, much of left wing populism appears to be a transfer of money from those who have achieved to “the unworthy”.

Oh, there are many good reasons for those programs; I happen to believe that wealth trickles up through the economy and NOT down; when the bottom of the economic ladder is better off, the rest of us are are better off. Personally, I want more people to be able to afford to send their kids to my university and to patronize the neighborhood businesses. There is evidence that poor kids that get SNAP do better than those who don’t.

But that is a difficult sell, especially to people like me, who have been raised on The Ant and the Grasshopper.

But there is more from the Vox article quoted above:

When Corbyn took control of Labour leadership last September, UKIP — Britain’s far-right, anti-EU party — had been in decline, netting around 10 percent in the Britain Elects poll aggregator. By the June 2016 Brexit vote over whether to leave the EU, UKIP’s numbers had risen to a little over 15 percent.

Corbyn and Labour publicly supported staying in the EU, but didn’t campaign for it particularly hard. It may not have mattered: Eric Kaufmann, a professor at the University of London who studies populism, looked at what Brexit voters said were the “most important” issues facing the UK. More than 40 percent said immigration; a scant 5 percent said “poverty and inequality.”

According to Kaufmann, this reflects an uncomfortable truth: The kind of voter who’s attracted to the far right just doesn’t care a whole lot about inequality and redistribution, Corbyn’s signature issues. Tacking left to win them over, as Corbyn has, is “a bad idea,” he told me in a phone conversation.

Yes, this is the United States, not the UK. But:

This, they hypothesized, was not an accident. People are only willing to support redistribution if they believe their tax dollars are going to people they can sympathize with. White voters, in other words, don’t want to spend their tax dollars on programs that they think will benefit black or Hispanic people.

The United States is marked by far more racial division than its European peers. Poverty, in the minds of many white Americans, is associated with blackness. Redistribution is seen through a racial lens as a result. The debate over welfare and taxes isn’t just about money, for these voters, but rather whether white money should be spent on nonwhites. “Hostility between races limits support for welfare,” Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote conclude flatly in the paper.

Now, it’s been a decade and a half since this paper was published, so it’s possible the evidence has shifted. I called up Sacerdote to ask him whether any subsequent research has caused him to change his mind. His answer was firmly negative. “It’s almost sad that it’s held up so well,” he told me.

And I see it as being grimmer than this.

Take public education. One would expect teachers to have to have a basic standard of literacy, right? Well, in New York, the public education establishment is about to do away with a literacy test for teachers because…too many minorities are not passing the test!

New York state is poised to scrap a literacy test for people trying to become teachers, in part because an outsized percentage of black and Hispanic candidates were failing.

The state Board of Regents on Monday is expected to adopt the recommendation of a task force to eliminate the exam, known as the Academic Literacy Skills Test.

Critics of the exam said it is redundant and a poor predictor of who will succeed as a teacher.

Backers of the test say eliminating it could put weak teachers in classrooms.

Just 46 percent of Hispanic and 41 percent of black test takers passed it on the first try, compared with 64 percent of white candidates.

The test was among four assessments for prospective teachers introduced in the 2013-2014 school year.

(note to conservatives who might be laughing: I hope you are equally outraged at attempts to give creationism “equal time” in science curricula).

And so it goes. It is bad enough that we have racism in our population, but then we go and lead with our chin with stupid stuff like this. Guess whose kids those illiterate teachers will be teaching?

Workout notes: home treadmill (snow outside): 10 minute jog, then 50 minutes of “quick walking”; 5 miles in just about 1 hour (maybe 1:00:20 or so).

Advertisements

March 13, 2017 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, political/social, politics, poverty, social/political, walking | Leave a comment