The first thing every progressive should know is, most voters are already preternaturally inclined to vote for the Democratic Party. We’ve known this since the 1930s. Since 1932, registered Democrats have outnumbered registered Republicans by a significant margin, even when there was a trend in which more and more voters registered independent and third party. That is why, even when Republicans turnout is 85-90%, they barely eke out a majority most of the time. There are simply fewer of them. What that means is, we progressives should be kicking Republican ass most of the time. We have a built-in advantage. It actually takes a whole lot of work for progressives to lose as bad as we do. But we do lose, most of the time. And much of the reason we lose is because the loudest element of the progressive movement, the professional left and the unicorn progressives who hand on everything the pro left regurgitates, are far more keen to blame Democrats for everything and to obsess over every imperfection.
It’s useful to note that the vast majority of unicorn progressives are white, as are most professional lefties. And most of their stridency on the issues seems to come out of their white privilege. People of Color basically hold sway in the Democratic Party these days, and white unicorn progressives don’t seem able to handle that fact. When you listen to them speak, it is clear they refuse to cede control of the politics to black and brown people, and they really don’t like having a woman in charge.
You can see this in the way they talk about issues. Nothing they “discuss” demonstrates any sort of recognition of what the average voter actually considers when they cast a ballot. They believe, by screaming about “$15 an hour minimum wage” and “free college” and “free healthcare,” they are talking about the issues the average voter actually cares about.
Most voters want a decent job that doesn’t suck and pays the bills. They want to raise a family, live in a decent home, enjoy a vacation or two every year and just feel peaceful and content with life. That’s all. Many on the bottom end love the idea of making $15 per hour, but that depends on where they live. For example, if they live in New York, San Francisco, Chicago or Los Angeles, (which is, coincidentally, where most unicorn progressives live) a $15 per hour minimum wage makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, in many rural areas of the country, a $15 per hour minimum would kill a lot of businesses and it would kill a lot of jobs, as well. This is where common sense comes in; a $15 minimum wage in a city or region where the cheapest apartments are $1,000 per month and homes average $500,000 has a different meaning than it does in rural Mississippi, where you can still buy a home for less than $100,000 and you can rent a decent place to live for $500-600 per month. It makes no common sense whatsoever to demand that everyone in the country advocate for a national minimum of $15, if it’s going to create a hardship on half the country.
Likewise, if you think most people are interested in “free college,” you really don’t get it. First of all, there is no such thing. Yes, I know; back in the olden days of land grant universities, they allowed in-state students to go to college for free and it was glorious. However, back in those days, they also didn’t allow People of Color in most such universities and many of them also discriminated against women. Also, back then, college was not seen as absolutely necessary to getting a decent career. Now, most students in high school intend to go to college, there is no more discrimination. That means a in-state university that might provide education to 6,000-8,000 students 50+ years ago now deals with upwards of 30,000 admissions. Also, the number of career tracks covered by most state universities is greater than it was in the 1960s, which means colleges have to teach more subjects, including some that are rather cost-intensive. Promising “free college” in 2018 doesn’t mean the same as it would have in 1968. Everything costs more, and times have changed.
The pressing issue related to higher education that most voters to worry about is the high level of debt students graduate with, but that can be solved without promising everyone they can go to college for free. For one thing, we can raise taxes on the rich to provide more non-loan financing options. We can make loans interest-free, or provide debtors with alternate ways to pay off the loans, like providing them with public service jobs. The one thing to draw from this is, promising “free college” is a red herring that the average voter knows is bullshit. If it costs a university $5,000 per year (full disclosure: number pulled straight from my rectum) on average to teach students what they need to know, “free college” is neither practical or believable.
The same is true of “free healthcare.” I know, a lot of unicorn progressives like to shout “single-payer” to deflect from the fact that they are advocating for “free healthcare,” but we all know better. They want to create a system in which people just go to the doctor or a hospital and gets what they need without having to pay more than they can afford to get that. That is called “universal healthcare,” and we all want that. We all want what most developed countries have, which is a system in which anyone who gets sick or injured is seen by a doctor and everything is COVERED by insurance. Note that phrase; it doesn’t mean it’s FREE. In every country on earth, citizens pay for insurance to get the right and ability to see a doctor and not be taken broke.
We are the only developed nation anywhere, where a the parents of a sick child have to start a GoFundMe to pay for care they should be entitled to. That does not translate to “free healthcare” and voters know this. Our healthcare costs per capita right now is more than $10,000 (source) and there is no way we could raise taxes on the rich enough to cover that. Even if we take steps to cut that in half, so we’re in line with most other countries with universal healthcare, the idea that we could raise taxes on the rich to the extent needed to make it “free.” And voters know this, which means, when the loudest element of our side screams “free healthcare,” they make all of us sound like bullshit artists.
Voters care about their lives and their families. They want to make a living, raise their kids in a nice safe neighborhood and they want to live a nice quiet life. Voters of Color want to live a nice quiet life, just like white people do, without hassles and trouble from police and others. They would like to be considered equally to white people for a job and they want to live in neighborhoods that are just as safe and secure as their white brethren. Women want to be able to run their own lives, including reproduction, but also a job, and they want to contribute to society. LGBTQ people, same thing.
Every voter in this country wants to vote FOR freedom and automony, with freedom meaning the ability to live their lives as they see fit. If you think the way to excite them is to promise them free shit and promise a “revolution,” you need to get out more. Talk to more average voters and find out the truth. And gain some common sense.
Also published on Medium.