Eric Raymond on the Democratic Party

Eric Raymond thinks the Democrats are a mess, and that’s not good for America.

I emphasize that I am not issuing an ideological prescription here. I am not arguing in this essay that the present Democratic platform and strategy is wrong in an abstract moral sense, but rather that that it has become suicidal practical politics.

The most obvious thing is that you have to stop contemptuously dismissing the largest single demographic segment of the American electorate. Because believe me, they noticed. So did their wives and children.

This has larger implications than you may yet understand. It’s not just that you need to take any Democrat who uses the phrase “angry white men” out to the woodshed and beat him or her with a strap until he/she wises up. The whole apparatus of racial and ethnic identity politics is turning in your hand, reversing (like your old-media dominance) from an asset to a liability.

(Just to drive the point home, the gender card doesn’t work any more either. Trump is a feminist’s worst nightmare. He won anyway. He came close enough to winning the entire female vote to trigger bitter post-election denunciations of American women in general by feminists – which pretty much epitomizes the sort of reaction that isn’t going to help you.)

Your best plausible case is that the minority groups you counted on passively fail to add up to a winning coalition, as they did this cycle. Your worst – and increasingly likely – case is that white people now begin voting as something like an ethnic bloc. This is, after all, how you’ve been teaching other ethnic groups to play the game since the 1960s.

You will not prevent this development by screaming “racism!”. Here’s a hot tip: people you dismiss as retrograde scum will not, in general, vote for you. In fact, one of the things you Democrats most urgently need to do is banish “racism” and “sexism” from your political vocabulary.

While these words point at some real problems, they are also a trap. They lead you to organize your political pitch around virtue-signaling, exclusion and demonization. That, in turn, can be successful (though repulsive) politics when it’s used against a minority to mobilize a majority or plurality. But you’re in the opposite situation now. You were trapped by your own privilege theory. You demonized a plurality of American voters, and in return they gave you Trump.

If you continue to do this, you will lose.

I largely agree with this analysis. ESR concludes:

You Democrats don’t just need to reform [your gun policy and] your rhetoric about racism and sexism, you need to reform your attitude towards the voters to a place from which your present rhetoric looks as vicious and absurd as it does to them.

This is spot on.

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