I met an old fellow today at the lake. He was there teaching his grandkids how to fish. Nicest fellow you’d ever want to meet. Didn’t seem like he had a racist bone in his body. He was a factory worker at a big company. He was laid off when they downsized. He was wearing a Trump T-shirt that read as follows:
“FIVE THINGS THAT DON’T MESS WITH YOU”
It made me wonder what the list would be on the complementary T-shirt: “5 things that DO mess with you.”
If we begin to get an idea of what this gentleman’s list of things that “mess with him” looks like, maybe we Democrats can understand where we went wrong in 2016 and begin to win back nice fellows like this grandpa and other former members of our base. That would be one thing (of many) that can help us to expand our following and win in 2018 and 2020.
I know some will say that this kind old grandpa doesn’t matter. And perhaps that’s part of the problem with us whipper snappers and our fancy suit strategist and their big data. When they say some people of certain age brackets and certain ethnicities in certain states just don’t matter to the Democratic Party, I think they’re flat out wrong. In fact, I think they’re traitors to the core values of this great party that has done so much to change the lives of millions for the better. Somewhere along the way, we lost our way. To find our way back, let’s think about this grandpa’s list:
My guess is that #1 on that grandpa’s list of things that mess with him would be “Big corporations that lay you off and screw you on your pension” and
#2 would be “people who call you a racist when you’re a kind old non-racist grandpa teaching your grandkids how to fish.”
(See bullet point list at link below to see how we played a role in this Grandpa leaving the Democratic party).
It seems strange that we tend to think that we had nothing to do with this grandpa’s vote for Trump. I think we and our policies played a big role in his decision. And we’re making a big mistake by missing our role in this. I realize that we have this idea that all people who voted for Trump are like those racist idiots that are doing awful things at Trump rallies (punching people, etc.). There are certainly millions of those. And they are truly deplorable. But the vast majority of Trump supporters are regular people like this Grandpa. And the hamhandedness we have demonstrated in lumping all of them into a “basket of deplorables” is unfortunate. Our own presidential nominee made that mistake, insulting so many people who used to be part of our base, writing them off and insulting them to boot. Many professional political strategists have called that one of the bigger errors in modern politics. It’s one of the reasons we lost.
***** This Grandpa used to be one of our party faithful. Here’s how we helped cause the kind old grandpas (who teach their grandkids how to fish and aren’t racist) to leave the Democratic Party. https://clearblueskyoutwest.com/2017/08/15/maybe-its-time-we-democrats-give-ourselves-some-tough-love/
If we don’t understand the part we played and adjust course accordingly, 2018 and 2020 may end up looking just like 2016. Let’s figure this out so we can unify and win! The time for division and writing our former base off as “deplorable” is over.
Note: Some people will respond to this in a defensive manner. Some will even deride this Grandpa. I think it’s really important that we drop that defensiveness and habit of criticizing others without taking a look in the mirror. I think we need to instead be open to the idea that, when we lost an election against an easy opponent (an election that we should have won in a landslide) we just might have made a few mistakes.
Also – We are not perfect warriors against racism and fascism. Our Democratic party leaders have been joining with Republicans to champion the policy at the following link for the last 20 years. This policy has created conditions of economic insecurity that have been historically conducive to the rise of racism and fascism. It’s great to be against fires (and we should be). But it’s even better to also eliminate the conditions which make fires more likely (especially if they’re your own policies). Please see info at this link on how Democrats and Republicans have championed a policy that has made racism and fascism more likely: