The Campaign Spot

The Politics of Division Come Back to Bite Democrats

To echo Ramesh and Jonathan Chait…  Since 2008, Democrats have built their policies, identities, and electoral strategies on an appeal to African-Americans, Hispanics, young voters, gays, and single women.

A side effect is that the party has spent little time or effort even considering how to appeal to whites, men, seniors, and married women.

When those demographics show up at the polls in big numbers, as we saw in 2008 and 2012, the Democrats enjoy big, big wins. When they don’t, as in 2010 and 2014, they lose by disastrous margins.

Just because you’re not going to appeal to every demographic equally well doesn’t mean it’s wise to write them off. And for the Democrats, it’s particularly unwise to write off the demographics who are the most reliable voters and most likely to show up in non-presidential election years.

The knee-jerk claim that those who disagree with a particular policy are part of a “war on women”? The exhausted, cynical accusations of racism in every conceivable policy dispute? The constant insistence that those concerned about border security are driven by xenophobia and hatred? All of that has a cost. After 2012, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declared, rural America was “becoming less and less relevant.” Less relevant to the country as a whole or to the world? Or just less relevant to Democrats?

A crazy idea for either party: Try to devise policies that benefit as many Americans, in all kinds of different demographic groups, as much as possible. Just try it. Let’s see how that goes.

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