Since early June, when voters in Georgia’s sixth congressional district rubbed yet more salt in their 2016 election wounds, Democratic pols and sages have been pondering why, as Ohio congressman Tim Ryan put it, “our brand is worse than Trump.” That’s a low bar, given the president’s nearly subterranean approval ratings, but so far the Blue party has mostly been turning to an inside-the-box set of policy and political memes: jobs programs, talk of a mutiny against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and better marketing—or, in Ryan’s words, “branding”—of the Democratic message.
What’s missing from this list is the most important—and most challenging—item of all: solving the liberal “deplorable” problem. The white working class that hoisted Donald Trump to an unexpected victory may not always admire the man, but they know that he doesn’t hate “people like me,” in the pollsters’ common formulation. And they have good reason to think that Democrats, particularly coastal and media types, do hate them: consider Frank Rich’s snide and oft-cited article, “No Sympathy for the Hillbilly.” It’s possible that white working-class voters would back a party filled with people who see them as racists and misogynists, with bad values and worse taste, because they all want to raise taxes on Goldman Sachs executives, but it seems a risky bet.
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