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We have a lot of work to do if we intend to ensure that Donald Trump does not change what most Americans are striving for in their lives. But we as liberals and progressives cannot continue doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We know the phrase and what it means: It is a form of insanity.
We know we are right on economic policies, social policies, environmental policies, social justice policies, and much more. The problem is that we are wrong in how we talk about them and how we reach out to people.
Many will balk at that statement, but it is true. Progressives believe in science. Facts and numbers guide us. But in finding the appropriate method to deliver our message, too often we don't think carefully enough about our approach.
It is a fact that many working class voters see us as elitists who think we know more than they do. They believe we look down on them. If they don't immediately agree with what we know is best, we tend to malign them as low-information, gullible, and dumb without taking the time and effort to engage.
Some say we need not worry about them at all. After all, we have our voters, and there are more of us and less of them. If we just work on bringing our voters out, we will win. To be blunt, that is downright ignorant, elitist, and condescending. And Hillary Clinton's Electoral College loss showed that.
Yes, more voters believe what we believe--but to assume they are our constituents is misguided. Voters must understand they matter and that we are not taking them for granted. You see, it doesn't matter if one's oppressor is progressive or conservative. If both seem to disregard you, you simply don't care. You don't vote.
Hillary Clinton collected hundreds of millions of dollars during her campaign. The Democratic coalition--the progressive coalition--is the perfect coalition of all Americans of every race, religion, and creed. Anecdotally, it seems Clinton and her team wasted that money on high-priced consultants and advertising that looked nothing like the Democratic coalition.
Journalist Roland Martin complained that he spoke to the Clinton campaign about investing in radio, TV, newspapers, and other organizations that could better reach other communities. His pleas fell on deaf ears. Michael Moore urged the Clinton campaign to work the "Blue wall," to no avail. President Obama offered to work the Blue wall. They sent him elsewhere.
But this is not only a Hillary Clinton problem. It's a type of cancer that permeates the progressive space. We talk the talk and pass legislation sufficiently progressive for many. But deep down we maintain a hierarchy not so dissimilar from the establishment on the right: do enough to win, but ensure we keep the status quo.
I used to scoff when many said that the Democratic Party and Republican Party are the same. And while I don't yet agree with that statement, depending on what Trump does, I may get there. What do I mean?
When Democrats had the opportunity to make America a real progressive country in terms of policy, it wasn't Republicans holding them back. It was Blue Dog Democrats.
Imagine if we had passed the right-sized stimulus. Imagine if we had gone to single-payer universal health care. Imagine if we had nationalized the banks that ripped America off and almost destroyed the world's economy. The reality is they do not provide a service commensurate with their profits and gains. Imagine if we allowed a real free enterprise system to reign instead of crony capitalism.
We had the votes. But Democrats opted to maintain the status quo. They denied Americans the taste of what could have been because it meant the super wealthy would have to give back some of their ill-gotten gains in the form of more taxes. They denied Americans a robust economy, given that a dollar in the hands of someone who will spend it is worth much more to our economy than one invested in a factory in China or Vietnam.
Republicans outright lie to their constituents. They then get into office and serve the same masters Democrats enslaved themselves to by ensuring any legislation passed is, first and foremost, acceptable to the plutocracy.