You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.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 myAJC.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 myAJC.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

Crisp: There’s a reason why Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job
Crisp: There’s a reason why Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was in the news last week, in a story that gives me a nagging, uneasy feeling about the health of our republic. Kaepernick is the professional football player who experienced considerable notoriety last season by declining to stand during the pregame rendition of the national anthem. He was protesting...
Opinion: Preventing another property-tax meltdown

A burgeoning property-tax revolt in Fulton County ended with the county’s quick surrender. That doesn’t mean the issue is over, for Georgia’s largest county or the state as a whole. Fulton homeowners were outraged in May when new assessments started showing up in their mailboxes. Half of homeowners saw increases of at least 20 percent...
Krauthammer: What the parents of Charlie Gard should do for their baby
Krauthammer: What the parents of Charlie Gard should do for their baby

One cannot imagine a more wrenching moral dilemma than the case of little Charlie Gard. He is a beautiful 11-month-old boy with an incurable genetic disease. It depletes his cells’ energy-producing structures — the mitochondria — thereby progressively ravaging his organs. He cannot hear, he cannot see, he can barely open his eyes...
Opinion: Mainstream media and the real crimes of Russiagate

For a year, the big question of Russiagate has boiled down to this: Did Donald Trump’s campaign collude with the Russians in hacking the DNC? And until last week, the answer was “no.” As ex-CIA director Mike Morell said in March, “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians … there is smoke, but...
Readers Write: July 21

Krauthammer column full of hot air Columnist Charles Krauthammer believes a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and other members of the Trump campaign and a couple of Russian officials was “collusion” (“Bungled collusion by Trump Jr. is still collusion,” Opinion, July 15). Collusion is the “secret agreement or cooperation...
More Stories