To win in “flyover country,” the Democrats should follow the socially and environmentally moderate, economically populist course that was once the emblem of centrists and pragmatists like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin or North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp. Yet, such customized progressives run against the Stalinist notion of “intersectionality” that demands party members embrace every fashionable left-wing notion, from the “evils” of homeownership to police brutality, climate change and transgender bathrooms.
This creates a dilemma for many potentially anti-Trump voters. Running against energy industry growth in the Great Plains, Ohio and Texas assaults the bases of those economies. Just try telling people that they should give up their homes and cars for apartments and the bus, and then try to sell that in suburbia.
Surprisingly, Bernie Sanders, whose priorities tilt to economic concerns, may be closer to coming up with a strategy that could break the Heartland red wall than the gentry left. But his program will be expensive, and in an increasingly unequal society, free college, single-payer health care and “clean” energy all will require massive subsidies, which at some point the gentry will be forced to pay.