electability   22

Democrats Have Created an “Electability” Monster | The New Republic
"“Electability” is a crock of shit. It is defined, like political “moderation,” only in terms of opposition to things people want, but are told they can’t have, ranging from antiwar politics to left-wing economic populism to even the “cultural liberalism” that is seemingly the cornerstone of the modern Democratic Party. (Back in 2004, supporting civil unions, not even marriage, for same-sex couples was a threat to a Democrat’s perceived “electability.”) While the impulse to vote according to how you think a candidate would appeal to people who don’t share your priorities might make sense in theory, practice has revealed time and time again that no one involved in electoral politics—from the pundits down to the caucus-goers—has a clue who or what Americans will actually vote for. That was supposed to be, as the political scientist Masket says, the main lesson of Trump’s election.

But Democratic voters did not teach themselves to prioritize electability over their own actual concerns. They were trained to, over many years, by party figures who over-interpreted the loss of George McGovern, or who wanted to use the fear of McGovern to maintain their power over the Democratic candidate pipeline and nomination process. “Electability” is a way to get voters to carry out a contrary agenda—not their own—while convincing them they’re being “responsible.”

And now Democratic candidates and their most loyal voters are stuck in an absurd feedback loop. The politicians campaign and govern as if they themselves don’t believe a majority of voters prefer their agenda, signaling to their most loyal voters that they must vote not for what they want, but for what they imagine their more-conservative neighbors might want. But when voters in 2016 did exactly that, and nominated the candidate they were repeatedly told was most qualified to defeat Trump in the general election, they chose a person who went on to lose to him.

How are committed, pragmatic voters supposed to react when the person sold to them as not just the most “electable” person in this particular race, but among the most “electable” people in recent political history, loses a freak election to a preening, venal huckster who was treated as a great big joke for almost the entirety of the campaign?

If “electability” previously meant “the candidate most associated with the hawkish and business-friendly wing of the party,” it now seems to have become purely and nakedly demographic. Former Clinton voters are flocking to the various white men in the race, avoiding candidates they actually might like, because they see their own affinity for those candidates as a political liability.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a populist liberal PAC, polled its own members, asking why they supported their candidates of choice, and found basically an inverse relationship between which candidate’s supporters thought their pick would make the “best president” (Warren by a landslide) and which ones were motivated by their belief that their candidate is the most “electable” (Biden). As PCCC co-founder Adam Green put it: “Barely a majority of Biden’s own current supporters believe he would be the best Democratic president.”

Because of the way the “electability” question was framed in 2016, and the way it then backfired, it looks very much like the Democratic Party’s rank-and-file took from that election the lesson that “a smart and capable woman isn’t electable,” not that “an establishment fixture with a tremendous amount of political baggage who is also easily and convincingly portrayed as corrupt isn’t electable.” I’m guessing many of the people who worked very hard to elect Hillary Clinton president would like to see Warren win the Democratic nomination rather than Biden, but decades of party brass (aided by a political press that spends every single election cycle talking about the electorate like it’s still Nixon’s Silent Majority) leaning on “electability” arguments to kneecap outsider candidates is currently working against that outcome.

It is still easy to imagine the sort of Democrat who’d be happy to use the “electability” argument against a candidate like Warren. But when even someone like Harris—a member in good standing of the party establishment, a dedicated player of the “electability” game her entire career, a person whose campaign strategy from the outset seemed to be to rerun the Clinton campaign but without the Clinton baggage—struggles to gain traction with Democratic voters, it feels like the monster has turned on its creators.

Watching Joe Biden, a man who was already too out-of-step with the party and the country to win the nomination 12 years ago, claim the “electability” mantle only strengthens that feeling. No one really wants President Biden. It’s just that the “better things aren’t possible” caucus accidentally managed to convince some large portion of the Democratic electorate that they must hold their noses and vote for actively worse things.

Expecting voters to behave like pundits—asking people to vote for what expensive consultants and Sunday show guests imagine people like them might want instead of what they actually want—would be perverse even if it worked. But unless and until the Democratic electorate can be given license to support what it supports, each failure of the “electability” paradigm will only be taken as proof of the need to retreat further into learned helplessness.

If you’re not that excited to vote for Joe Biden, I promise you, your neighbor isn’t, either."
democrats  elections  politics  us  electability  kamalaharris  joebiden  hillaryclinton  berniesanders  petebuttigieg  corybooker  elizabethwarren  georgemcgovern  centrists  centrism 
18 days ago by robertogreco
That said, I'm with . WE INFLUENCE with everything we say,…
ELECTABILITY  from twitter
18 days ago by userX
Mmm, if we ARE going to talk about - notwithstanding 's take on the subject* -…
electability  from twitter
18 days ago by userX
Is this the bottom line, though? Is a Trojan horse??? What if you like the…
electability  from twitter
25 days ago by userX
Why Bernie Can Win
“Bernie Sanders is the most electable candidate this November.” by Matt Karp
2016  election  Bernie  Sanders  analysis  electability  editorial  opinion  MattKarp  Matt-Karp  Jacobin 
february 2016 by Mykl
Everything I know I learned at Western, plus a little extra
From a chemistry prof whom I will not embarrass by naming him — my career as a chemist was short, lasting about halfway into
second year, and its trajectory was none of his fault — I learned a set of procedures for solving complex problems. Write down what you know. Write down what you’re trying to figure out. Write down the tools you’ve mastered that might get you from here to there. It’s not a technique, really, just an attitude toward the known and unknown, which is why it’s all I’ve retained from my failed years as a science student.
I’ve learned that politicians who approach problems with the same attitude — What do you have? What do you need? How can you
get from here to there? — are likelier to succeed than the ones
who hope to coast on “charisma” or “electability” or, Lord save us,“vision.” At school, the kids who sat at the front of the lecture hall and closed the library every night actually did better. The same is true in life.
Paul_Wells  UWO  problem_solving  unknowns  information_gaps  charisma  attitudes  politicians  visionaries  electability  5_W’s  complex_problems 
january 2013 by jerryking
Pondering Perry's Electability - NYTimes.com
nal editorial board lumped Mr. Perry into the same category as Michele Bachmann and questioned his appeal to swing voters. Karl Rove critiqued Mr. P
perry  2012  elect  electability  republican  venn  diagram  chart  rick 
august 2011 by stealingsand

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