Clinton Pollster: Democrats Need To Ditch Identity Politics
The Democrats have a lot of issues to deal with in the wilderness. Who’s the leader? What’s the agenda? What’s the message? Do we need to moderate? Do we need to push further to the left? For one Clinton pollster, it’s the former; let’s gravitate towards the center and win elections again. Mark Penn co-authored a column in The New York Times earlier this month, where they said the party must drop identity politics and the toxicity that comes with it to the national discourse. That alone has put these two men in the Democratic doghouse, though there are aspects of their agenda that Republicans should be mindful of since they could resonate with the white working class voters Democrats need to win back but are reticent to do so [emphasis mine]:
Central to the Democrats’ diminishment has been their loss of support among working-class voters, who feel abandoned by the party’s shift away from moderate positions on trade and immigration, from backing police and tough anti-crime measures, from trying to restore manufacturing jobs. They saw the party being mired too often in political correctness, transgender bathroom issues and policies offering more help to undocumented immigrants than to the heartland.
Bigger government handouts won’t win working-class voters back. This is the fallacy of the left, believing that voters just need to be shown how much they are getting in government benefits. In reality, these voters see themselves as being penalized for maintaining the basic values of hard work, religion and family. It’s also not all about guns and abortion. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both won working-class voters despite relatively progressive views on those issues. Today, identity politics and disdain for religion are creating a new social divide that the Democrats need to bridge by embracing free speech on college campuses and respect for Catholics and people of other faiths who feel marginalized within the party.
There are plenty of good issues Democrats should be championing. They need to reject socialist ideas and adopt an agenda of renewed growth, greater protection for American workers and a return to fiscal responsibility. While the old brick-and-mortar economy is being regulated to death, the new tech-driven economy has been given a pass to flout labor laws with unregulated, low-paying gig jobs, to concentrate vast profits and to decimate retailing. Rural areas have been left without adequate broadband and with shrinking opportunities. The opioid crisis has spiraled out of control, killing tens of thousands, while pardons have been given to so-called nonviolent drug offenders. Repairing and expanding infrastructure, a classic Democratic issue, has been hijacked by President Trump — meaning Democrats have a chance to reach across the aisle to show they understand that voters like bipartisanship.
Immigration is also ripe for a solution from the center. Washington should restore the sanctity of America’s borders, create a path to work permits and possibly citizenship, and give up on both building walls and defending sanctuary cities. On trade, Democrats should recognize that they can no longer simultaneously try to be the free-trade party and speak for the working class. They need to support fair trade and oppose manufacturing plants’ moving jobs overseas, by imposing new taxes on such transfers while allowing repatriation of foreign profits.
All of this, if messaged properly, could spur Trump voters to back a Democrat. Remember they’re not die-hard Republicans. If the GOP Congress and Trump fall short on health care, tax reform, trade deals, and infrastructure, it’s possible these voters could back a Democrat if (a big if too) Democrats play this game. Also, drop the single-payer nonsense.
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