Thursday, October 26, 2017


In The New York Times, Nate Cohn writes that some potential Democratic candidates for House seats currently held by Republicans are just too ... elitist.
The enthusiasm among well-educated Democrats and the relative lack of success recruiting established politicians in working-class areas has occasionally led to an odd mismatch: affluent, liberal types running in working-class districts. Take Josh Harder, who worked for a San Francisco venture capital firm but is now running in California’s typically competitive 10th District in the Central Valley, or ex-Obama administration officials like Elissa Slotkin, Lauren Baer and Andy Kim, who are running in middle-class districts in Michigan, Florida and New Jersey.
Yes, if you were a little-known mid-level functionary in the Obama White House, you wear the scarlet E of elitism. There's no way you can run successfully for Congress against a member of a party that has nominated wealthy plutocrat scions in six of the last eight presidential cycles, all of whom claimed to be champions of ordinary Americans.

Meanwhile, Laura Ingraham is set to make her debut as a Fox News prime-time host. Fox News Insider quotes her:
"Heartland America, you have a champion," Ingraham said. "Working class Americans, I came from you, and whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, your voice will be heard. Your values, your patriotism, your straightforward approach to issues, your demand for the truth will have a hearing on this show."
She said something similar to The New York Times:
Ms. Ingraham said in an interview with The New York Times that she wants to represent “the working-class, populist sensibility that is the beating heart of the Republican Party right now.”
Laura Ingraham is a Dartmouth graduate. After law school, when she was still in her twenties, she worked in the Reagan White House. She went on to clerk for Clarence Thomas, then took a job at the white-shoe law firm Skadden Arps.

But she's a working-class hero.

Yes, she's the grandchild of immigrants. Yes, her mother worked as a maid. But Mike Dukakis was the son of immigrants, and in the 1988 presidential campaign, blueblood George H.W. Bush portrayed Dukakis as an elitist whose ideas were "born in Harvard Yard's boutique," which makes no sense but sounds prissy and above-it-all. Bush claimed to love pork rinds and campaigned with Loretta Lynn, and he won.

I realize that Democrats have lost elections because of demographic mismatches -- Sean Eldridge, the husband of wealthy Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, wasn't the right candidate in 2014 for an economically struggling House district in upstate New York. But it's an uphill climb for Democrats no matter who runs. Rob Quist, a cowboy-hat-wearing third-generation Montanan, lost a special House election earlier this year to Greg Gianforte, a tech executive who arrived in Montana by way of San Diego, the Philadelphia suburbs, and New Jersey. Dick Cheney's daughter Liz, who grew up in northern Virginia and lived there until 2012, won Wyoming's at-large House seat in 2016, defeating Democrat Ryan Greene, a former roustabout and pipe welder who grew up in Wyoming and now runs his family's energy services company there.

Wherever "authenticity" is valued, Democrats are at a disadvantage, because both right-wing messaging and mainstream-media reporting depict Democrats as "inauthentic" by definition, no matter what their background. Joe Biden is an exception, as is Bill Clinton, and kinda-sorta-Democrat Bernie Sanders also seems exempt. Maybe Democrats ought to try harder to challenge Republicans' "authenticity," and possibly figure out a way to be as brazen as Republicans in asserting their own.

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