Op-Ed: The tragic flaw of the Democratic party
Josh Hartman/ Staff Writer
On Nov. 8 the United States elected Donald Trump to be the next president. One thing to note is the fact that Trump won the election with about 60.9 million votes, which is about the same that Romney received and a million more than McCain received, according to the Roper Center.
The Democrats had the ability to get a majority in the Senate in this election, but they didn’t and now the Republicans control the Senate and the House. The Republicans gaining a filibuster-proof majority is a very real possibility in 2018 when 25 Democratic seats up for reelection.
The Democratic party seems to want to continue blaming third party voters, Russian hackers, racists or—as Clinton has most recently said—the FBI. But one of the things that actually played a part in this election is that the Democratic party’s inability to appeal to the average person.
“To be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables,'” Clinton said at a fundraiser on Sept. 9, describing those people as racist, sexist, xenophobic among other things.
This mirrors the problem Mitt Romney had when he stated that nearly half the country would never vote for him because they were receiving benefits from the government.
“That hurt,” Romney said about the effect of that comment. “There’s no question that hurt and did real damage to my campaign.”
Comments like these make moderate people, who could comfortably vote for either candidate, feel as though their views are being invalidated. These are the kind of people who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but voted for Trump this year.
Among registered voters, 65 percent of people polled by The Washington Post thought that it is unfair to describe a large portion of Trump’s supporters as prejudiced against women and minorities. Even among just Democrats about half of the people polled felt similarly.
If you think about the perspective of a moderate Trump supporter, it’s easy to see how they can become disenfranchised by the Democratic party. To these people Trump represented a difference from the status quo. He was the person who would knock a wrench into the system that didn’t seem to care about their problems.
“You know, I’ve always wanted to say this—I’ve never said this before with all the talking we all do—all of these experts, ‘Oh we need an expert—’ The experts are terrible,” Trump said during a rally.
Trump’s disdain of experts clearly is not beholden only to him. Millions of Americans feel this way as well. Part of the reason behind this could be the cultural and political differences between “experts” and everyone else.
For instance, By their own description, 72 percent of American professors are liberal and only 15 percent identify as conservative.
Just 2 percent of English professors identified as Republican, according to a Harvard and George Mason University study.
“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” George Yancey said about his experience with discrimination. “But inside academia, I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”
Yancey is a black and evangelical sociologist who spoke to the New York times about liberal bias in academia.
Some people may read this and think that the gap in political ideology is because conservatives self-select away from jobs at universities in favor of business or that conservatives are just less-qualified in general. But isn’t that just the same argument that racists use to explain inequality among people separated by skin color?
Of course, topics with social and psychological implications will always be very complex and require an open mind and diverse opinions to consider effectively. This is the larger problem that bias implies.
Groups that have a diversity of opinions are better decision makers and are more effective in general. Studies have shown that when a group is full of people who share the same views, they tend to become even more extreme in those views.
Another presidential candidate felt similarly about the Democratic party.
“Donald J. Trump won the White House because his campaign rhetoric successfully tapped into a very real and justified anger, an anger that many traditional Democrats feel,” Bernie Sanders wrote in an opinion piece.
At the end of Sanders’ article, titled “Where the Democrats go from here,” he suggests that the party must “break loose from its corporate establishment ties.”
Both the lack of grassroots efforts among the Democratic party and the liberal bias in academia lead to significant problems with the party—problems that shouldn’t be ignored.