We’re seeing a trend: Democrats clawing at each other, slap-fighting, and pulling hair as they swap irrelevancies in intellectual tomes about what the fuck just happened. And, as usual, they’re making a hash of it. The search for answers is not going well. That’s because it’s typical liberal frontal-lobe stuff: Let’s do a word search and count to ascertain the quantum of Hillary Clinton’s references or allusions to political, cultural, or social issues at least tangentially relating to working class voters and develop metrics for discovering whether that quantum of references was sufficient to generate a critical mass of interest among those voters. You just want to vomit.
Exhibit A today is this piece by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. Thompson takes issue with those who say that Hillary Clinton lost because she didn’t talk about blue-collar issues enough:
But here is the troubling reality for civically minded liberals looking to justify their preferred strategies: Hillary Clinton talked about the working class, middle class jobs, and the dignity of work constantly. And she still lost.
She detailed plans to help coal miners and steel workers. She had decades of ideas to help parents, particularly working moms, and their children. She had plans to help young men who were getting out of prison and old men who were getting into new careers. She talked about the dignity of manufacturing jobs, the promise of clean-energy jobs, and the Obama administration’s record of creating private-sector jobs for a record-breaking number of consecutive months. She said the word “job” more in the Democratic National Convention more than Trump did in the RNC acceptance speech; she mentioned the word “jobs” more during the first presidential debate than Trump did. She offered the most comprehensively progressive economic platform of any presidential candidate in history—one specifically tailored to an economy powered by an educated workforce.
Sweet Baby Jesus, please give us the patience to cope with all this. Both the claim that Clinton did not talk enough about blue-collar workers and the claim that she did talk enough about them completely miss the point: it doesn’t matter how much she talked about them because she, like most Democrats, has no idea how to talk to them. It’s remarkable that Thompson could have missed this point when his own piece quotes Bernie Sanders (approvingly) saying that he came from a “working class” background and that he was “deeply humiliated that the Democratic Party cannot talk to where I came from.” Let’s read that again: “talk to where I came from.” (Emphasis added.) Not about; but to.
It’s not just that Democrats don’t know how to talk to average people about blue-collar issues; they don’t know how to talk to average people about anything. The Chimps take no issue with the progressive agenda described and propounded by Thompson or others; we get it. But what we need is to be able to sell it.
The problem isn’t that Clinton didn’t use the word jobs enough or that she didn’t have a platform that was progressive enough. The problem is that she never had a message for American workers that a) was simple and easy to understand and repeat; b) evoked an emotional response; and c) provided an outlet for people who, above all else, want to feel like they are powerful – like they are going to kick some serious ass.
Here’s how Hillary Clinton talked about her jobs program (we’re paraphrasing):
I have a jobs plan that will involve massive investments in our infrastructure. Several of the world’s leading economists agree that my plan will create good-paying jobs for more Americans than Donald Trump’s plan, which really isn’t a plan at all. You should go to my website and read all my plans and compare those to Donald’s plans, and you’ll see that I have better plans.
Here’s what she should have said:
We’re getting killed by Asians and Europeans. Their technology is beating ours. What are we going to do about it? High-speed rail from coast to coast and North to South. That’s what we’re going to do. One hundred percent made in the USA. Americans will design it, Americans will build it, and Americans will show the world how it’s done. That means that YOU will get paid to design it and YOU will get paid to build it and YOU will show the world how it’s done. Japan and Europe think they have high-speed rail? They’ve never seen high-speed rail.
Emotional thinkers don’t respond to white papers or generalities; they respond when you tell them what to be afraid of, tell them how to kick some ass, and paint a picture that is simple, visual, and evocative. Don’t tell an emotional thinker that we “need to upgrade our outdated electrical grid to bring America into the Twenty-first Century.” Tell him or her, “There’s a guy named Xi Jinping who can shut off your power and your internet whenever he wants – maybe just before he jams a nuclear warhead down your nearest power plant’s smoke stack. We’re going to build a new electrical grid so secure that he couldn’t get at it any more than some child molester could get at your daughter with you standing between them.” Hell, The Chimps just worked themselves into a tizzy – where do we sign up?!
We need to get our act together, progressives. We need to stop talking amongst ourselves and learn to talk to people who think differently – who think emotionally.
For missing the point so badly, we award Derek Thompson a one-chimp salute.