DEATH TO DISCOURSE

Posted in Rants on November 19th, 2017 by Ed

This political environment requires us to get pretty creative in the search for silver linings. If anything positive can be extracted from the Roy Moore situation, it could be the beginning of the end of the discourse fetish that afflicts far too many people on the left.

Look, talking things out and being willing to compromise are clearly the best ways for a political system (and society) to resolve differences. No one disputes that. Unfortunately, some people have let raging optimism or self-interested motives blind them to the fact that the modern conservative movement is made up largely of people who have no interest in any kind of good faith conversation. Over and over we've heard that if we are just nicer to the White Working Class Trumper, he and she will eventually come to the light, and the discord in our political system can always be resolved by Reasonable People coming together and talking it out.

It's a fantasy. It just isn't true. Obama fell for it, insisting that he would give the GOP the benefit of doubt that they would negotiate "in good faith" long past the point at which any reasonable person who isn't a total sucker could believe that.

Some voters are won over easily by the short-term promises and tribal dog whistles of right-wing populism, easily enough that perhaps they would change their mind if presented with different viewpoints. But there are vastly more conservative voters who simply aren't going to be persuaded. Roy Moore has given us pretty firm evidence of that, evidence that future Democratic candidates may do well to keep in mind.

It is safe to say – and I'm willing to go out on quite a limb here – that a person who straight-up admits that they would rather vote for a serial pedophile than a Democrat is not a person worth talking to, nor one whose opinions will be affected by discourse. Don't reach out to them. Don't waste your time talking to them. The only way to deal with them is to out-organize, out-motivate, and out-vote them. That begins with Democratic primaries producing candidates that their base of likely supporters actually gets excited about, not candidates that the party must guilt-trip and brow-beat supporters into supporting.

Stop the Listening Tours. Stop the Cletus Safaris into Trumpland to try to "figure out" a demographic that is rapidly disappearing. Above all, stop insisting that if we all just come together and Have a Beer and talk things out we are going to bridge the divide between the pure nihilism and authoritarian tendencies of the Trump right and the rest of the world. They are not listening. They don't want to be your friend. They most likely hate your guts just for not being one of them. They've demonstrated repeatedly, and to an almost comical extreme with Roy Moore, that they are not interested in evaluating the political world objectively. They will do whatever mental gymnastics are necessary to support their team.

I do not understand what is so compelling about finding a way to save and convert vicious, obstinate white people who vote Republican when 46% of Americans of voting age do not vote and they are disproportionately Asian, black, and Hispanic. There are far more votes to be won, and it will be far easier to win them, among people who do not vote than among these mythical white conservatives who are going to become your friend and start voting Democratic because we're nice to them.