Charles Kenneth Roberts

Politics, History, Culture

“Good riddance”

There are a variety of things wrong with the Democratic Party; there are a lot of reasons why it’s, generally speaking, losing in the 21st century. I think the most important reason is that, despite what the base wants and the overall popularity of the policies supported by rank-and-file Democratic membership, the party leadership is beholden to the economic elite who favor policies which benefit the already-rich and powerful. Universal healthcare is a good example of a policy that most Democrats, especially the most motivated and committed, want but that the party leadership has hesitated to get behind.

But that’s not the only thing wrong with the Democrats. Josh Marshall has written an article about Alabama’s Republican nominee for Senate (and likely winner) Roy Moore, whose most important financial backer has expressed Christian supremacist and neo-Confederate ideas, and he’s associated with the League of the South (as has Moore).

That’s awful, though it’s not terribly surprising. But whenever you look at stories like this on liberal/Democratic-leaning websites, or when they’re posted by prominent liberal Twitter accounts, there’s a common tendency in the comments or responses. By my count a solid majority of the replies to the above-quoted tweets and a sizable chunk of the replies on TPM are some variation of “Good riddance!” or “Let them go” or “Kick them out.”

So: an explicitly Christian supremacist with ties to more-or-less openly white supremacist organizations want to take control of a state that votes 35-40% Democrat and is 30% or 35% non-white (depending on how you count Hispanics). For a sizable portion of the people who care enough to post about it on the internet, the response is to just let them do that.

This isn’t a matter of whether Democratic policies favor those voters, or whether Republican policies harm them. Compare the way that conservatives respond to stories about, say, the (much over-stated) liberal bias on college campuses. There are calls for affirmative action for conservative academics, calls for the firing of professors who make inflammatory liberal statements, insistence on equal rights for using college spaces for even the most extreme conservative/anti-liberal speakers, and demands that college administrators or even state legislatures step in to protect conservative voices. There’s an element of “That’s what you get when you go to liberal colleges” or talk about conservative alternatives, but it’s in general extremely supportive for conservatives who decide to attend those institutions (a self-selected identity, unlike where you’re born).

I know it’s the internet, and it’s Twitter, and it’s the comments section. I know a lot of people think it’s funny to post such thoughts and wouldn’t actually favor secession. But I also know that lots of black people didn’t vote in 2016 because they didn’t think the Democratic Party did anything for them. Black voter turnout declined sharply in 2016, and despite the most anti-immigrant candidate in decades, Latino turnout didn’t increase very much. Republicans were effective in reducing (and in some cases, repressing) turnout, but Democrats were also bad at increasing turnout.

The reason so many black and rural Americans feel like Democrats don’t care about them is because lots of Democrats don’t really care about them, or at least they don’t act like they do.

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