11 Nov 2018                     home

Looking toward 2020

I wonder why it is, with national television and other mass communication, that rural America differs politically so consistently from urban America. Is it that people in rural areas are more traditional in their values? Are they more inclined to forgive Trump's sins and to see redemption in his pursuit of policies they like? Is it that they are more removed from the "liberalism' that dominates our nation's great institutions of higher learning? At any rate, my interest here is in communicating with them and bridging our differences to some small extent.

With others I am looking toward the 2020 elections and looking for improved communication with those who this past week voted Republican. The columnist Bret Stevens, an anti-Trump Republican, writes that intensity is not the way to convert Trump supporters. It's emotion rather than. He complains that intensity doesn't convert.

Stevens writes that the Democrats failed "when Chuck Schumer chose to make Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court the decisive political test of the year." (It seems to many that Democrat support for Christine Blasey Ford was devious politics. Some believe that her accusation against Kavanaugh should have been made soon after the event and were not relevant to the development of his character that followed his teenhood FFFFF (find them, etc.) crudity or relevant to his development and experience as a jurist.) Some claim that the Kavanagh hearings inspired a big turnout by Republicans in the 2018 mid-term elections.

Stevens writes that "The day Democrats take charge in the House (this January) would be a good opportunity to stop manning imaginary barricades, and start building real bridges to the other America."

The Washington Post columnist EJ Dionne writes that "Democracy is a long game. It requires commitment and patience." The elections earlier this week, he writes, "did not turn our politics upside down. But it began the journey that will turn our country right side up.

Speaking of patience, Democrats are looking at the pleasantness of Senator Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota. Unlike other Democrats running for re-election she won in some rural areas, defeating her opponent 60.3 percent to 36.2 percent. Dan Rather was impressed, writing:

I said it before, and after thinking more about last night's results, I'll say it again. Amy Klobuchar may emerge as a top Democratic nominee for 2020. She projects steadiness, seriousness, and competence. And she's well respected across diverse parts of the political spectrum.

Perhaps Democratic politicians should leave the biting comedy to comedians like Bill Maher – comedy employing exaggeration. Maher is a national treasure, but those who create disturbances in public may be doing little more than add support for Trump. (In Vienna in 1848 it alienated middle-class reformers, split the movement for change and produced reaction.)

None of this means that Democrats should not "pick fights" with the Republicans. Democrats don't need to hold back on challenging Republican malfeasance, distortions and lies. They do need to explain their positions with factual detail and they can do it while leaving the pompous righteousness and BS to Republicans.

Republicans have been associating Democrats with what has been happening in Venezuela, and Republicans have been gleeful about our economy at a new high, credited to Trump (although GDP growth is normal and we have a debt and distribution problem.) As Robert Samuelson writes: "As a society, we have failed to confront some of the major social, political and economic realities of our time: immigration, globalization, health spending, global warming, federal budget deficits, stubborn poverty and the aging of society." We often wait don't move on a problem until it becomes an urgent crisis.

Trump has been hyperbolic about our country being the most blessed nation in the world. Voters can be given a more accurate model than Venezuela regarding where Democrats want to take their country. Norway is a better model. Responding to Trump's hyperbole, Marketwatch.com has declared: "Sorry America, Norway ranks No. 1 for 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'. Marketwatch goes on:

In fact, Norway ranked No. 1 for happiness and personal freedom, according to an analysis of three separate studies on life expectancy by the World Bank, on civil liberties from Freedom House, a New York-based nonprofit that conducts research on advocacy and democracy, on happiness from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a group linked to the United Nations, and on rule of law from the World Justice Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

Few people read Marketwatch. And people are not likely to be influenced by whatever lacks specifics they see relating to them. And many dismiss such comparisons as insufficient patriotism. Some are describing Democrats as Marxists, socialists and communists. (We need not bother telling them that as a scholar Marx's ideas were transitional and that he died in 1883. So too have his revisionists. Overviews are reworked and modified, and dead theorists are relevant only as historical figures.) We can laugh at labels and name-calling and fight back with relevancies.

(An article in the New York Times about rightists fixing their animosity on cultural Marxism.)

What I'm looking forward to from the Democratic Party is effective communication. Democrats should go easy on the demonization, and they don't have to destroy Trump on every point. (Trump's approach to North Korea is not totally erroneous and let's not oppose him when he stumbles upon doing right.) I'm looking forward to Democrats between now and 2020 lacking Trump's pomposity and hyperbole. I'd like to hear why they care about the positions they are taking but not how much their heart bleeds, or their prayers. (Let us not be condescending.) Instead, I am looking forward to convincing descriptions of what is happening and how they intend to respond to it in a way that provides us with opportunities and improved well-being.

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Copyright © 2018 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.