Inept Democratic Centrists Still Don’t Get It

For Democratic centrist thinkers who have failed to understand the Republican party base and the even broader American electorate, it might be time to give up. New York Times Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman is out with another unoriginal regurgitated take on what drives poor white working class voters.

Krugman’s lazy take on the Republican electorate is that they are so racist that they will vote against their own self-interest. He goes on to point out that a deeply depressed very white state like West Virginia should vote for Democrats, because West Virginians benefit from Medicaid and food stamps. Yet somehow the state overwhelming voted for Trump.

Krugman’s disdain and shallow analysis into West Virginia is a perfect example of how the term coastal elitism came to be. Krugman ignores the fact, that while being a liar and a con artist, Trump and his campaign offered something to West Virginians that centrist Democrats can’t be bothered to do. Which is to offer hope for the future. Trump allowed West Virginian’s to have pride in themselves and their economic history, namely coal. Even if it is just rhetorical, Trump offered something for West Virginians to feel good about. Something to vote for. The type of disdain centrist Democrats have for 'fly-over states' like West Virginia is a big reason why so many constituents will vote for a child pedophile like Roy Moore over a centrist Democrat like Doug Jones. 

On the other side, after promising to put a lot of coal miners out of business, Hillary Clinton barely set foot in West Virginia. When she did, she had to reckon with her disdain and comments about West Virginians.

"How you could say you are going to put a lot of coal miners out of jobs, and then come in here and tell us how you’re going to be our friend?" one coal miner asked Clinton at a campaign stop on May 2nd, 2016.

Instead of voting for 'hope and change', Krugman thinks West Virginians should vote blue, because Democrats will throw food stamps and Medicaid at them. People do not want means tested benefits that verify the fact that they are poor and suffering. They want hope for the future. Krugman wants you to believe this coal miner is racist and too dumb to vote in his own self-interest, but voters like him have other priorities than access to means tested benefits. Our changing economy has left working class Americans behind. Someone is responsible. While Republicans use xenophobia to scapegoat immigrants, Democrats tell suffering West Virginians that ‘America is already great’ and refuse to declare an enemy.  

In order for poor-working class voters to not vote against their own self-interests, there needs to be an actual opposition party to corporate and wall street interests that they can vote for. Over the last 30 years the Democratic party has abdicated that position. It is literally impossible for Wall Street to vote against its own self-interest. Whoever they vote for will continue to advance their priorities. Meanwhile, Krugman fails to point out that poor black Americans, who have no choice but to vote Democrat, have voted against their own self-interest. This is evidenced by Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill, 1996 welfare reform or the repeal of Glass Steagall. It is also furthered by the notion that Barack Obama decided to bail out financial institutions instead of victimized homeowners. During the Obama presidency average home equity of African American families decreased by $16,700 as a result in large part to Clinton’s deregulation of Wall Street and Obama's decision to protect big banks and financial institutions instead of victimized home owners.

If Democrats want working class voters to vote blue, they need to offer big bold progressive ideas that will actually impact their lives and their livelihood.

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