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Democrats are Trapped by the Extremism of Their Own Base on Cultural Issues

Posted on Tuesday, November 16, 2021
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AMAC Exclusive – By Daniel Roman

McAuliffe's

In the aftermath of their defeat in Virginia, a few, mostly older liberal commentators have begun warning about the Democratic Party’s leftward drift on cultural issues. Some have criticized Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe for his failure to distance himself from the far left on CRT or the transgender bathroom and sports issues that had inflamed parents in Virginia schools.

It is easy to condemn McAuliffe for this choice, but the way he chose to navigate the race highlights a much larger problem for the party than many have understood. The challenge is that given the dynamics he faced within the Democratic electorate, it is unclear what other choice McAuliffe had. In all likelihood, McAuliffe did not decide to adopt his losing strategy thinking it was good. He probably deduced, correctly, that was simply the least bad option. And the alarming fact for Democrats nationwide is that if their least bad option was not good enough to win in a Biden+10 state earlier this month, there are a lot of other places it will not be good enough either.

McAuliffe’s choice on the cultural issues was both simple and impossible. If he spoke out against the radicalism of the left, he would be on the wrong side of a majority of Democrats, and potentially enrage 30% who would think him a bigot or at least pandering to bigots. If he supported their policies, he would offend the nearly quarter of Democrats who think the “woke” turn of Democrat politics is total nonsense, and potentially a danger to their kids – not to mention alienating a majority of independent voters McAuliffe desperately needed to win. So, facing this choice, McAuliffe did nothing, hoping he could hold the coalition together. Nothing may indeed have been his best option—but as we saw, it could not get him across the finish line.

McAuliffe’s conundrum shows why, for all the newfound recognition among some Democrats that radical social policies are liabilities, it is unlikely Democrats will be able to successfully execute the pivot they would need recover from their dalliance with the radical left. Despite the glee MSNBC and other liberal media outlets have shown since 2009 regarding the supposed extremism of the GOP base, it is increasingly Democrats who are out of touch culturally with American voters, and who are being held hostage by the extremism of their own base.

Take for instance the issue of transgender rights and gender policy. A recent survey from the liberal Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) demonstrates the enigma facing thoughtful Democrats on these issues. The PPRI survey indicated that Americans of all parties support not discriminating against LGBTQ individuals. This would seem to be an encouraging fact for Democrats. And yet, Democrats have not limited themselves to advocating for non-discrimination—rather, in many cases, they have abandoned that position in favor of stances where they are almost diametrically opposed to mainstream public opinion.

For example, 62% of Americans do not think those born biologically male should be able to play women’s sports. Yet 61% of Democrats think they should be able to do so. Opinion within the Democratic Party on the issue is therefore a mirror-image of that of Americans as a whole, and anyone opposing this would be advocating against a policy favored by a majority of Democrats. Thus, in order to be able to win a primary, a Democrat candidate would have to win the votes of people who support allowing trans individuals to play sports of the opposite gender, while winning a general election would likely require securing the votes of people who oppose such a policy. And to do that, the candidate would need to be able to explain to the public why they oppose transgender athletics on the merits. Instead, the default position of Democrats who have tried to take the majoritarian stance has been merely to explain that the Democrat Party’s position is “unpopular” in the nation at large. This does not really work in a general election, as it implies you still think the 62% of Americans are wrong or even bigots. This underscores the problem with even Democratic moderates. They tend to couch their moderation in tactical considerations, in effect insulting the morality of those whose votes they are supposedly trying to appeal to, while intimating that in their hearts, they aren’t really moderate at all.

Yet even this cynical political positioning to enable Democrat candidates to win over mainstream Americans may be a bridge too far for many Democrat voters. An increasing portion of the Democrat base is intolerant of anyone with a political profile capable of winning national elections.

Take for example Democrat voters’ views on a basic question, or rather, what a majority of Americans regard as a simple factual statement: the notion that there are only two genders.

Gender-Identity

Overall, 60% of Americans believe there are two genders, and 40% believe there are more or a range. However, not only do 61% of Democrats disagree with that statement, but a plurality actually feel their disagreement is important enough to be a voting issue.

Once more, opinion among Democrats is the exact inverse of that of the American people. Worse for Democrats, however, are the numbers of those who feel strongly. 42% overall feel strongly there are only two genders, compared with only 17% who feel strongly there are more. But among Democrats, those numbers are 23% and 30%. In other words, a fringe view, backed by around one sixth of the electorate, has a near plurality among Democrats. Worse, Democrats, unlike Republicans, have divisions. Among Republicans, 87% think there are two genders, while only 4% feel strongly that there are more. Democrats are much more evenly split. While 61% think there are more than two genders, a full 23% feel strongly that there are only 2 genders, making serious and bitter infighting among Democrats much more likely.

The gender issue is one of many that follow this pattern. It is not Republican primary voters who are out of touch with Americans. It is Democrats. And this is a key reason why Democrats are so despondent and Republicans so optimistic about 2022.

The more rational members of the party know they need to pivot, they know how to do it, but they nonetheless cannot do so because of the rigid ideological orthodoxy demanded by their base, an extremism that in many cases they themselves have sown. And that is why so many Democratic incumbents are headed for the exits rather than running for reelection. It is not that the situation is bad now and they don’t know how to fix it. It is that it is bad and they know they cannot do the things needed to fix it.

Daniel Roman is the pen name of a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

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Jeffrey T.
Jeffrey T.
2 years ago

How did our great nation get to this point, the point that our great nation is dangerously close to being the past?I suggest it is partially due to an ignorant sleepy electorate, suppression of factual information, relying on network news and talk-shows to form people’s opnions, politicians/protesters/network “news” etc sowing seeds of hate and anger.What now(?) how many of my fellow Americans are ready to forfeit liberty and embrace “socialist The People living in “America” in the 1700s were fed up with living under the boot of a tyrannical king and they had summoned fortitude and resolve to say HELL NO, WE DO NOT ABIDE THIS TYRANNICAL KING and, enough of them had resolve to take their God given right of liberty. Many of our founders warned that we will have to be vigilant to ensure the survival of our UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; :Thomas Jefferson’s Writtings”, Abraham Lincoln et al, provided insight and sobering warning of what…I pray an overwhelming majority of my fellow AMERICANS turn off the network “news” a find out what’s really happening, stop being driven by hate and parroting the ranking heads and politicians and,, USE THAT WHICH RESIDES BETWEEN YOU EARS TO THINK.Politicians will tell you anything it takes to “win” re-election but many don’t give a d____ about We The People rather, too many politicians care only about getting richer and having even more power..Read again the article above, it is quite telling.

Bill on the Hill
Bill on the Hill
2 years ago

I would add the GOP pollsters watched the polls & ballots very closely in VA, thus keeping it honest.
Can we honestly say the same thing occurred in NJ? I would suggest no, incumbent Democrat Governor Murphy was reelected by just enough votes in the final county counted…In NJ, crooked politicians have run the state for as long as I can remember… More of the same in CA with the recalled Gov. Newsom winning by substantial numbers as I find that strange coming from a state that primarily despised the man & for good reason…Two words comes to mind: ELECTION INTEGRITY or lack thereof in NJ & CA once again… In their cases, crime does indeed pay…
Bill on the Hill… :~)

Jeb
Jeb
2 years ago

Democrat choices = Democrat consequences. If they had the ability to be honest, they have no one to blame but themselves. The fix will have to be internal.

DGrudz
DGrudz
2 years ago

Correction — he didn’t do nothing. He invoked “racist dog whistles” and said the whole thing is a manufactured nothing-burger. That’s their best argument to avoid dealing with either the crazy base or the angry parents. And it’s not working.

Morbious
Morbious
2 years ago

The larger question is which party is expanding and which shrinking. Will the % of dem voters who believe in multiple genders expand along with the % who welcome new laws allowing aborted babies to be executed after surviving the proceedure.? Despite Trumps heroic outreach to traditionally dem voting bases, only single digit improvement was realized. Virginia was like the doolittle raid in 1942, a great morale builder that had little direct effect on the enemy. I believe we all need to reach out to people we know well enough to talk to but arent sure of politically, especially the millennials. When you do you will find out how little they know other than leftist boilerplate.

LJane
LJane
2 years ago

I enjoyed the thoughtful perspective of this article because it shows there can actually be logical reasons for the seeming irrationality of the democrats. Everything is not just black and white.

Backwoods
Backwoods
2 years ago

Still voting Democrat or RINO Republican you need counseling. Millennials need taught proper values at home.

mju
mju
2 years ago

“it is unclear what other choice McAuliffe had.”
I’m sure that’s how the question was viewed by this Clintonite remora and his camp of sub-remoras. But here’s a thought. Perhaps try what a normal human would do when faced with such a dilemma? Instead of “what are the optics?” or “how do I cover my ass?”, try “what do I really believe?”

Judy
Judy
2 years ago

McAuliffe should have done what Youngkin did: ignore the loud voices of the party (Repubs = Trump, Dems = AOC), and listen to his voters needs. He’s just not authentic enough to do that.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
2 years ago

Hey Dems reap what U sow OK enough its ON YOU

EdG
EdG
2 years ago

This should be a wakeup call for the Democraps, but probably not. If they would think about what’s good for the country and it’s people instead they continue to govern against the will of the people to keep the lefties happy in their party and line their own pockets either directly or indirectly.

Jeremy Buchanon
Jeremy Buchanon
2 years ago

If the Democrats do get swept away in the next two cycles, and there is a replay of 1980, the deed to the whole mess is signed by two names: Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Larkenson
Larkenson
2 years ago

Anti-White liberals and respectable conservatives that support unlimited third-world immigration and FORCED assimilation for EVERY White country and ONLY White countries say that they are anti-racist, but their policies will lead to a world with no White people i.e White Genocide.
Anti-racist is just a code word for anti-White.

JJB
JJB
2 years ago

A very good article and explains very directly why the people in the USA are divided but we must stop listening to the radical 10% who will never be satisfied with normal relations between adversaries. In other words STOP pandering to them. STOP basing our politics, everyday life and our children’s future on the radical leftist’s fringe. To most of us they are just plain NUTZ

Mimi
Mimi
2 years ago

Yeah, higher taxes, higher prices, and low availability of goods and services. Everybody’s missing Trump and his pro American policies. It’s just that the liberals can’t bear to admit it !! It gives them the vapors!! Long live President Trump, and his ideas and ideals!!

DEREK PARKER
DEREK PARKER
2 years ago

A Democrat incumbent might be able to get away with doing/saying nothing (on gender issues, for example, since that is what this article looks at) but that will not work when there is a primary competition. In the current climate within the Democrats, primaries are likely to become a race to the far left. Meanwhile, the GOP will be keeping track of every comment made by Democrat candidates, to be used against the eventual winner. A horrible dilemma, but one that the Democrats brought upon themselves.

Henker
Henker
2 years ago

The Victor writes the history, not Ni@@ers.

Robert Chambers
Robert Chambers
2 years ago

Democrats have assumed they owned and deserved to own the black vote for sixty years.

They are about to find out the that assumption was a pretension that could not survive the votes of a generation or two of blacks who are well educated, sophisticated, What are well aware it’s not 1963 anymore.

Wayne Peterkin
Wayne Peterkin
2 years ago

My issue right off the top is by saying Democrats are “trapped” infers it is against their will. It is not. They have freely chosen the path they are on and if they don’t like that path they can abandon the “Dark Side” and join the “Force” at any time. The Democrats have become the anti-American party bent on our nation’s destruction by adopting policies that violate our founding principles, violate our Constitution in some cases, and are fundamentally destructive to Free Enterprise and basic liberties. .

David M
David M
2 years ago

This is not difficult. For starters, McAuliffe’s position on parent’s role is education is disqualifying. There are many others, but a salient aspect is that he is either a coward or fool, or both. As the father of three daughters and two grand-daughters, the 61% of democrats who think transgender males should be allowed to participate in female sports are 100% wrong. Very dismaying that so many people could be that screwed up. McAuliffe has no principles other than trying to feed at the public trough. Thank God minorities are waking up, and leaving the democrat plantation. Hooray for Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears!

Luke
Luke
2 years ago

Whoever would’ve thought fifty years ago that elections would hinge on such an insane belief? North American culture has come to this? More than two genders? It astounds me that people would be so gullible as to believe such a narrative from ANYBODY! Never mind political parties – this is simply insane.

That said, the win in Virginia was a flash in the pan. All’s it did was provide a template for liberals, progressives & democrats to develop more sophisticated ways to cheat. And, they WILL cheat. It is because of the Communist/Socialist/Fascist DNC the American taxpayers will not have a voice.

D.P.
D.P.
2 years ago

While the democrat leftists are certainly “out of sync” with the rest of the world, since they have the power base and numbers in congress and can twist arms, blackmail, threaten and cajole moderates and even some RINOs they still can be successful. They may be willing to take some hits along the way, serious hits, but in the end the machinery of government churns on in spite of the efforts of many to curb the tide. I am no especially optomistic about the future of this Republic…not as long as the progressives and leftists have a voice that is allowed to shout out all others.

Becky
Becky
2 years ago

Wrong, wrong, wrong. McAuliffe DID do something. He told American parents, who pay his too-big salary and the same for all the dead weight in schools, that THEY had no right to determine the education they wanted for their children.
Rather an extremely NAZI thing to say…
Those who support these overpaid gluttons have EVERY right to have a say so in how that money is spent.

BAE
BAE
2 years ago

The democrats were so into the LEFT, now the LEFT will do them in. Look what you did to yourself by not caring a hoot about the American tax payer. lol lol lol

David Millikan
David Millikan
2 years ago

The world they created:
C-CONTROL
O-OPPRESSION
V-VICTIMIZE
I- ISOLATE
D-DIVIDE

Nancy
Nancy
2 years ago

If we do not fix the corrupt voting Around the country you are living your future – more control / dictatorship is on the way!

Hal
Hal
2 years ago

I hear a renowned author is in the early stages of writing a historical book about the upcoming elections from the view of a Democrap candidate. It’s title will be “Lie Hard….!”

Hal
Hal
2 years ago

Remember the guiding motto of the Democrap Party … RULE, not GOVERN! In time it will morph to a Communist control which the Democrap Party is and has been for decades ready and willing.

Geraldine McGann
Geraldine McGann
2 years ago

Hope the Democrats self implode, and/or that millions leave the woke party!

Hal
Hal
2 years ago

How odd is it that many Americans seem to be unsure about how many sexual identities exist in the Nation much less how many there are in humanity. The Democraps seem to be fixated on this topic!! I guess it is the political tactics of the Dumobcraps that they will cuddle up to any group to get votes and reduce pressure on their need to rig the elections. The Democrap leaders are getting nuttier and nuttier with each passing day. This topic is too weird to think of rationally and/or seriously.

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