How can Democratic presidential hopefuls beat Donald Trump in the states that matter? Chris Matthews offers them some advice before their first debate, which will take place next week in a series of one-on-one matchups. The MSNBC host told Morning Joe earlier today that perhaps they can stop being snobs about voters who live outside the urban-academia bubble — especially when it comes to abortion.

To be clear, “lowbrows” is not Matthews’ description of pro-life voters. It’s his description of how Democrats view them … and everyone else outside that bubble:

“Trump played the life vote brilliantly in Pennsylvania,” Matthews warned, “and he’ll probably do it again.” And Democrats are teeing it up perfectly, a point Matthews implies more than explicitly states. Matthews tells Mike Barnicle that three of his brothers voted for Trump the last time, and unless things change quickly with Democrats’ messaging, they’re likely to do so again.

Matthews expands that warning to working class voters in general. Most of them aren’t concerned about “wokeness,” social-justice agendas, or relitigating past elections. They want a sound economy, just enough government to deliver the services they need, and no one telling them how to live. Trump did a good job resonating with those voters too, even if Matthews thinks that Trump exploited them. “People don’t mind being used,” Matthews observes, “but they mind being discarded.”

Will the Democrats listen to that advice? Don’t bet on it in the first round of debates, anyway. Even Joe Biden’s running to the left to pander to progressives on their social-justice agenda, especially on abortion. That prompted Archbishop Charles Chaput to accuse Biden and other Democrats of making abortion into a “perverse kind of ‘sacrament most holy'”:

In defending Mr. Biden, his advocates have typically pointed to his long-standing support for the Hyde Amendment banning federal funds for abortion; his support for Catholic teaching on various other social issues; and his resistance to late term abortion, all admirable positions. In today’s Democratic Party, these things marked him as a “centrist” and set him apart from the pack of other Democratic presidential hopefuls — nearly all of them hard to his left.

That was before last week.

On June 6, the Wall Street Journal reported (“Biden’s Abortion Views Irk the Left”) that Biden faced growing criticism from abortion activists and his party’s leadership for his Hyde Amendment track record. Exactly 24 hours later, on June 7, the same paper noted that Biden had sharply changed his thinking (“Biden, in Reversal, Backs Abortion Funding”). Translation: The unborn child means exactly zero in the calculus of power for Democratic Party leaders, and the right to an abortion, once described as a tragic necessity, is now a perverse kind of “sacrament most holy.” It will have a candidate’s allegiance and full-throated reverence . . . or else.

There’s a remark by Thomas More in the film A Man for All Seasons that’s worth remembering in the months ahead: “When statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their own public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.”

Indeed, and they rarely reverse course, regardless of wise counsel like that from Matthews today. Get ready to pass the popcorn.