For a sign of how far to the left Democrats have drifted on culture, just look at the last major anthem protest to sweep up a sports league. In 1996, Nuggets star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the national anthem, calling the American flag a symbol of tyranny. He was promptly suspended for a game and fined by the NBA. There was no uproar in favor of his right to protest, even in a league where most players were African-American. Condemnation of Abdul-Rauf’s action ran across the political spectrum. Then-commissioner David Stern later mandated players stand in a dignified manner when the anthem was played—a wholly uncontroversial decision.
The closest Clinton comes to acknowledging the party’s cultural tone-deafness is an anecdote she shares about the Arkansas Senate race in 2014. She relays a story about an old friend who typically votes Democratic, has fairly liberal economic views, but was having a tough time supporting moderate Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor’s reelection. She recounts him telling her husband: “At least the Republicans won’t do anything to us. The Democrats want to take away my gun and make me go to a gay wedding.” But instead of showing empathy for people with more-traditional social views, she concludes that “the politics of cultural identity and resentment were overwhelming evidence, reason and personal experience.” Successful politicians feel people’s pain; they don’t hector them about their hang-ups.