Monday, September 29, 2014

"Demographics" won't save you

This is Bernie Sanders in an interview with Thomas Frank making a point a lot of Democrats need to hear right now.
Another thing I’ve been wrestling with lately is a kind of complacency that you see among Democrats, where they say, “Eventually, Democratic domination is inevitable. The demographic changes in this country…”

Believe me, I’ve heard it 500 times.

So why do we need to worry?

Which is obscene. Forget obscene, it’s the wrong word. It’s pathetic.

I’ve been to those meetings with very high-ranking campaign leaders. And that’s exactly what they say. So what they say is, during the Obama campaign, “This is how we’ll win this election. We’re going to get a huge percentage of the African-American vote. We’re going to get 67 percent of the Hispanic vote. We’re going to get 58 percent of the women’s vote. Et cetera, et cetera. All those trends are on our side. And that’s how we win elections.”

During the course of that discussion, the issue of how the party that created Social Security and Medicare is losing the senior vote—or even the issue of seniors—was not there. They have a list of the 87 different categories, and kind of toward the bottom is seniors. The white working class of America, which now votes overwhelmingly for Republicans, was not mentioned. Now, how can it be that the party that is struggling to raise the minimum wage, to fight for pay equity, do reasonable things for working-class people — not enough by any means — is losing the white working class to the other side? Very little discussion about that.

So I am not a great fan of this. I understand demographics. But it has to do with what your political values are. And if your value is to expand the middle class of this country, provide healthcare to all people, educational opportunity for all people, it’s not just winning elections. It’s not just being better than another party, which is now an extremist party with racist overtones. You can’t go through your life saying, “Hey, you think we’re bad! You should see them! Vote for me! Yeah, we’re pretty bad, but they’re worse!”
Banking your party's future on "demographic trends" is like investing your publishing venture entirely in SEO.  It's all gimmick and no substance.

If your party isn't about anything substantive, eventually you're going to lose these people you think are yours for superficial reasons as well.  Either that or you'll keep them and never do anything to help them.  Hard to know which is worse.

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