Why friends don’t understand how hard the Democrats were hit by US 2016

Talking to friends about the American election, I’m sometimes surprised at the extent to which they buy into traditional mainstream media views as if those media still represented a window on the world instead of being victims of changes they do not understand. As a result, my friends talk as if the Republican party in the United States is in big trouble when it is the Democrats who are on life support.

From Clare Malone at Five Thirty Eight:

In his eight years in office, Obama oversaw the rapid erosion of the Democratic Party’s political power in state legislatures, congressional districts and governor’s mansions. At the beginning of Obama’s term, Democrats controlled 59 percent of state legislatures, while now they control only 31 percent, the lowest percentage for the party since the turn of the 20th century. They held 29 governor’s offices and now have only 16, the party’s lowest number since 1920.

A look back at the Obama era shows that the party’s big-tent message was both working and backfiring at the same time. The raw numbers seemed to add up to Democratic power, but in American politics, two plus two can add up to four — or, just as easily, to being up crap creek in a leaky canoe. The same national trends that allowed Obama to win two terms — and Clinton to win the popular vote in 2016 — hurt Democrats in statehouses, governor’s mansions and congressional districts.

Building the party with younger and more diverse voters opened the Democrats up to a turnout problem, though. Older, white Americans — the kind increasingly finding their home in the GOP — are more likely to vote than young people of color. More.

Reality check: And so forth. My friends don’t know any of this because the media they attend to cannot even face the reality themselves yet. It is a fundamental shift, one I had not expected myself, which leaves them behind. And it is only incidentally about Trump.

(Trump, streetwise, saw what was happening long before his party’s frat boys had finished hanging up their tennis rackets.)

One way I try to help people understand, especially if they are nuts on the subject of fake news or the alt right or the Russians, is to put it like this:

The Democratic party abandoned its vast blue-collar, pay-the-truck-loan base in favour of celeb my-identity causes which offer minor turnout by comparison. How many transgender guys are there in the U.S, as compared with the number of guys who would like to pay off their truck loan? I believe that the Trump victory is best understood by considering that factor, before going on to any others.

But, believe me, wear ear protectors and body armour to some of these discussions.

See also: Survey results: Political correctness makes people stupid: Part I – the CBC

Survey results: Political correctness makes people stupid: Part II Maclean’s