You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Democrats: Skip the civil war


Democrats are in danger of moving from complacency to panic. Neither is particularly helpful.

The complacency part is obvious: Until about 9 p.m. on Nov. 8, supporters of Hillary Clinton (myself included) were certain that Donald Trump’s weaknesses among women, nonwhite voters, and younger Americans would prevent him from becoming president.

This analysis was half-right: Trump lost the popular vote by more than 2 million. But things went just wrong enough for Clinton in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to give Trump his Electoral College victory. His combined margin in the three states stands at about 100,000. Roughly 134 million votes have been counted nationwide.

Is pointing to the limits of Trump’s victory simply a way of evading the depth of the Democrats’ plight? After all, they also failed to take over the U.S. Senate in a year many Republican incumbents looked vulnerable. They picked up a paltry six seats in the House. Add to this the large-scale losses of governorships and state legislatures since the Democrats’ recent high point in 2008 and you have the makings of a party-wide nervous breakdown.

But unless Trump’s first two years are wildly successful, 2018’S midterm elections offer Democrats opportunities to rebuild hollowed-out local parties. This is especially true in statehouses

Clinton’s popular vote advantage speaks to other opportunities. It reflected a shift toward the Democrats in Sunbelt states with large minority populations that is likely to continue.

Trump’s narrow wins in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, plus his larger victories in Ohio and Iowa, have the Democrats focused on the white working class — and on whether it’s time for “the end of identity liberalism,” the headline of a recent New York Times article by Mark Lilla, a Columbia University political philosopher.

Lilla’s essay provoked a polemical tempest. Many advocates for African-Americans, gays and lesbians, immigrants and women fear Lilla’s suggestion would lead liberals to abandon beleaguered constituencies at the very moment when they most need defending.

In fact, Lilla is right that liberalism needs to root its devotion to inclusion in larger principles and should not allow itself to be cast (or parodied) as simply about the summing up of group claims. He is also dead on when he writes: “If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded.” Democrats, who gave us the New Deal and empowered the labor movement, should be alarmed by the flight of the white working class.

But Lilla’s critics are right about something, too: An effort to reach out to the white working class cannot be seen as a strategy for abandoning people of color, Muslims or immigrants, or for stepping back from commitments to gender equality, or for withdrawing support for long-excluded groups. Liberalism’s very inclusiveness offers Democrats long-term advantages both in the Sunbelt and among younger voters who will own the future.

Remembering this is the first step toward political recovery.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Liberals wrong to always equate conservatism with racism

The confirmation hearings of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, President-elect Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, provided plenty of drama that can help explain why racial tensions never seem to go away in America. This was particularly evident in the concluding panel of the hearings, which consisted of six black men, three opposing Sessions&rsquo...
Commentary: Lawmakers return to putting patients first
Commentary: Lawmakers return to putting patients first

Read, M.D., president, Texas Medical Association With the 2017 Texas legislative session underway, lawmakers will make thousands of choices. Some of those decisions will directly shape the future of Texas health care, how and who offers that health care to patients, and how various parties play a role within the health care system. Decisions &mdash...
Letters to the Editor: January 25, 2017
Letters to the Editor: January 25, 2017

Re: Jan. 17 article, “H-E-B’s Charles Butt pledges $100 million to train school leaders.” Kudos to Charles Butt and H-E-B for stepping up to support beleaguered school districts that are under siege by the so-called “school choice” corporations. If Texas’ millionaires and their corporations followed this lead, Texas...
Jack Hunter: A weekend of Americans talking past each other
Jack Hunter: A weekend of Americans talking past each other

Hunter is politics editor for Rare.us. When Barack Obama was sworn-in, I cautioned conservatives that no matter our disagreements with the new president we should still appreciate the historic moment. “Much of the joy I see in my black neighbors and friends seems to be a sense that a new level of respect, perhaps the greatest respect, has now...
John Young: Listen to the river, Mr. President
John Young: Listen to the river, Mr. President

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. He can be reached by email at jyoungcolumn@gmail.com. “The river has taught me to listen; you will learn from it, too.” Herman Hesse’s line is about an actual mass of water droplets, but it certainly could apply to a stream of people — the one that flowed through the nation&rsquo...
More Stories