Saturday, March 06, 2021


Jonathan Chait on Arizona senator Kyrsten Sinema's self-aggrandizing rejection of a $15 minimum wage:

I don't think she was specifically trying to get progressives angry, if you distinguish them from mainstream Democrats. I think she was trying to get mainstream Democrats angry. Joe Manchin was doing the same thing, and has been doing so since Biden's inaugural.

On the surface, it makes no sense to oppose a minimum wage hike that's favored by 53% to 60% of the public, depending on what poll you read. But in much of America, it always makes sense to bash the Democrats, even if you are a Democrat.

I say this all the time, but I'll repeat myself: The right-wing media bashes Democrats every minute of every day. It describes as "Democratic" (or "Democrat") every terrible thing from "elites" to black-clad anarchists who throw bricks through windows. When the people who control the Dr. Seuss estate take six of his books off the market, the right-wing media and virtually every Republican politician send the same message, implicitly or explicitly: This is evil cancel culture, and it's the Democrats' fault.

Much of America thinks Democrats are awful. The message is so pervasive that even politicians running as Democrats reinforce it. During the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden couldn't stop telling us how many Republicans had endorsed him. Hillary Clinton did this too, as did Barack Obama to a lesser extent in 2008. The message was: I'm a Democrat, but I'm not one of the bad Democrats. See? Even Republicans like me! Which helps explain why downballot Democrats didn't do as well as Biden. Republicans were trashing their party, and in a subtler way, so was the guy at the top of their own ticket.

Sinema and Manchin are bashing the party. They're saying, See? You can trust me. I'm a Democrat, but I hate Democrats, too. They vote like Democrats reasonably often, but when the spotlight is on them, they need to make a great show of contempt for their party.

I assume I'll never see the day when Democrats finally realize they have an image problem and begin working to improve the public's impression of their party, while also trying to make the case to swing voters that the Republican Party is actually bad. Unless that happens sometime in the future, there'll always be Democrats who build their brand this way.

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