Maher: Democrats' obsession with "woketopia" is why the blue wave didn't happen on election night

Maher: Democrats' obsession with "woketopia" is why the blue wave didn't happen on election night

His audience suuuuuure is quiet during this segment.

There’s nothing here you haven’t heard before, most recently from centrist Democrat Elissa Slotkin in explaining why she won’t vote for Pelosi again for Speaker, but the fact that it’s familiar doesn’t make it less true. Slotkin is from Michigan but other Democrats from various purplish states came to the same conclusion she did: The party’s wokest voices are a major problem in battlegrounds.

“Defund police, open borders, socialism — it’s killing us,” said Representative Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat from South Texas who won just over 50 percent of the vote, two years after he nearly captured 60 percent. “I had to fight to explain all that.”

The “average white person,” Mr. Gonzalez added, may associate socialism with Nordic countries, but to Asian and Hispanic migrants it recalls despotic “left-wing regimes.”…

Chuck Rocha, a longtime Democratic consultant, said too many white Democrats “see Black and brown people as the same” instead of approaching Hispanics as people open to either party and in need of convincing.

What centrist Dems need is a charismatic national figure who can seduce the base, shake them out of their ideological dogmatism, and steer them towards policies that’ll make them more electorally viable. That’s what Trump did with his nationalist pitch in 2016, flipping midwestern working-class white voters who saw little to gain from the Ryan-era emphases on smaller government, free trade, and entrepreneurship fetishism. Find a Democrat who can deliver left-wing economic populism with a more moderate cultural program and they’re in business.

Or at least they would be if not for the Jacobins in their base immediately shredding a candidate like that for crimes against wokeness. There’s an asymmetry between left and right in that sense. Trump’s takeover of the GOP was easy in that it turned out that the tea party never much cared about the austere economic principles it espoused; it was a culture-war movement with economics and fiscal responsibility just conduits for expressing opposition to Obama. Trump delivered the culture war and found that righties would go along with whatever on economics. I don’t think the same is true on the left. Progressives want their economic program *and* their cultural program. There’s no way to drag them to the middle by giving them plenty of one if they’re willing to bend on the other.

Democrats may need to make a hard calculation about whether it’s in the party’s interest mathematically to kiss off its woke class in the hope and expectation that they’ll make up for those lost votes in the center. That’s essentially what the GOP did in kissing off Never Trumpers, a decision that led to victory in 2016 and a surprisingly strong finish in 2020. My sense is that there are far, far more cultural progressives on the left than Ryan-ites on the right, making the same approach risky for Dems, but there’s only one way to find out.

Speaking of the GOP expanding its coalition, I can’t remember who it was but a Twitter pal noted this morning how ironic it is that the base is going all-in on dead-end “the election was stolen” nonsense right now. That’s the sort of desperate play you make when you fear you’re doomed to a permanent minority and need to cling to power by any means, however dubious — which is very much *not* the takeaway from election night this year. Not only did Republicans make inroads with America’s growing minority population, they proved they can turn out low-propensity voters even better than Democrats can:

The GOP’s set up very well for the next half of this decade and maybe even better for the second half. They’ll probably retake the House in 2022. In 2024 they’re likely to be facing either an 82-year-old president who already seems to be in cognitive decline or a vice president whose poor retail skills knocked her out of this year’s Democratic primary before Iowa. Republicans’ surprisingly strong showing at the state level means they’ll remain in control of redistricting, giving them a structural advantage in congressional races. And the Squad, led by AOC, appears to be going nowhere, poisoning the well on messaging for moderate Democrats for years to come. There’s no reason for Republicans to panic about Trump losing power, especially with McConnell and the Senate positioned to block Biden immediately. If anything, the party shedding its Trump baggage may increase its viability.

Update: Fixed a typo in the headline.

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