This article is in response to a series of articles written recently by Michael Jay Tucker on LiberalResistance.net. In ‘Crafting A Deplorable Message‘ Tucker wrote”
“Yesterday, I wrote about how Progressives might need to somehow appeal to at least some of the voters who currently support Trump. I need to add something to that.
“Specifically, I am now struck by the fact that the Progressive Left has done many things well, but explaining its advantages to the Deplorable who support Trump is not among them. It has not made clear that a better America… a freer America… an America which is not hungry, in debt, and sick… also includes the white inhabitants of small towns in the American interior, where the only job is folding shirts at Walmart, and opiates and death are seemingly the only escape.
“The single greatest task of the Left, then, may be to craft a message to such people. We must learn how to speak to them, and we must discover a way to include them in our vision of a better world…”
Tucker in a later article titled ‘But Is It Possible?‘ went on to ask, “For the past two days, I’ve been writing about the Left and how it needs to, somehow, woo the Deplorable away from Trump. But is that really possible?”
Well, my answer is ‘It Is Possible’. I lived in Iowa for 21 years, so I know a little more about the “Praise the Lord and pass the corn crowd” than many people realize. First off, Tucker started to hit on it, but not everyone among Trump’s “deplorables” is really as extreme as what we see portrayed on television. Trump is a reality TV star and his entire Presidency has been a continuation/extension of that. He really only cares about his imaginary ratings and his deplorables have learned they will only be on camera if they act in extreme ways. So that’s how we’ve ended up with every drug addict/alcoholic/personality disordered person appearing on TV representing Trump’s “base”. The reality is most aren’t really that extreme and many of those wo really are that extreme are the ‘better off displeased crowd’ anyway. They just want to be angry at someone/something, and yes they probably are truly deplorable, but they in actuality only represent a small amount of the overall population. For those truly deplorable people the best that we can do is to ignore them. Those are the same people that would complain if you gave them a rope too short to hang themselves with it. There really is there is no satisfying some of them, nor should we even try.
Trump and his truly deplorables on television are kind of like what happens when a trailer park gets devastated by a tornado and the media always insists on interviewing the one person with no teeth and the worst grammar possible. Leaving everyone else to say, “Good Lord, I’ve never seen him before. How did they find him to represent us? Did they just bring him up from deep in the holler?” My point being is a few extreme examples isn’t always “representative”.
One of my college majors was in Marketing from the University of Iowa. I firmly believe in order to hit that red meat eating, hard-working, tax paying, overall Jesus-loving, middle America group there needs to some active campaigns to help capture their attention and work with their perceptions on a few things. First off, this crowd doesn’t respond to the word “FREE” like the younger generation does. Yes, that younger crown understands that they will be paying taxes for their lives to pay for these programs, and they are fine with that. The younger generation would rather see money going into things that will actually benefit their lives rahter than having it wasted on more bombs. That younger generation was also never exposed to the right wing propaganda/programming of “the welfare queen” myth and that taking anything for the government at all is welfare.
There needs to be an education about the government and its proper role. The government’s role is not a one way street of always taking…a properly run government should not only take in revenues but properly spend that money in ways and on programs that benefit the most people. So, please stop trying to hit the “too proud to take anything from anyone crowd” with promises of “FREE”. It simply will not work. However, it can be made a teachable moment to adults and children alike. For example, Grandma doesn’t get “FREE” Medicaid in-home help. There may be no current cost to her, but Grandma worked and paid taxes for 50 years. Money that she paid in while younger and fully employees is now coming back to her in a service that she really needs now that she’s older. That help keeps her out of nursing home (that she doesn’t want to go to anyway), plus it is far cheaper than a nursing home, amd besides Grandma prefers to live at home versus anywhere else. So this service provides a job for her in-home healthcare worker so that she can then support her own family. An argument can made that we as a society have decided to do it this way because it is the ‘right thing to do’ it this way, both morally and financially.
Personally I would avoid the use of the word ‘entitlement’ or any synonym. I would put the emphasis on Grandma EARNED the right to have help in her old age by contributing/working/paying taxes in society for 50 years. We have an aging population, no where near the space in nursing homes, and an increasingly unemployed rural America. We need to start to connect these dots and realize it is better to make sure Grandma gets the help she needs and some more contact with the outside world than have Grandma neglected, while a younger and healthier person sits at home unemployed and unable to take care of her family because there are no jobs in the area that she can afford to live in.
A message that will not resonate or be effective with this group sounds something like:
“We want to give you FREE __________(fill in the blank).”
The message that I believe will resonate better with this crowd sounds something like this:
“We worked hard and paid our taxes all our lives. We also want our taxes to work hard for us as well.”
There’s a problem with many of these people not equating that taxes paid means they should rightfully be getting services and benefits. Apparently they are fine with taxes just going into a black hole (never to be seen again). The reality is we spend far too much on military spending and not near enough on programs to help people right here in America. There needs to be a shift.
We have had such a dysfunctional government that some people now believe what is actually “the normal” worldwide is now “the irregular”. The check and proof of this is, for example, if every other developed country in the world has government provided healthcare, and we do not. We are the ones getting screwed over and feeling the impact on a personal and financial level. So not only is our system of healthcare “not normal” an argument can be made that providing national healthcare is the right thing to do morally as it will help the most people while spending the least amount of money making it the right thing to do financially. When I split it like that into the moral and financial right thing to do I have a way better chance of that resonating with people as I am talking about two, separate concepts and making an argument for both. Some people may need to be hit with both while others may just need to be hit by one vs. the other. A broader more open argument like that will effectively reach a broader group of people.
Some of middle America needs to learn if you pay into a system it is not charity to then get services or some benefits back. That is what taxes are supposed to do. So what I’m trying to explain is that the ideas of the Left are good, however they may need to be framed in a certain way that will resonate with this crowd and their values. With some people it really needs to be a more open conversation about what we want to do and why? How of course it isn’t free, but explain the way that people will pay taxes to earn these benefits and why it is truly needed.
The reality is the times are a changing and this is not the same America I remember from 30 years ago. That concept alone is very frightening to many people. However, we need to argue that with the ever-changing times we also need to adapt in ways that recognize that we are living in a dynamic, slightly ever-changing culture/country. If some of these people want to believe in a “Moral America” then we need to have a real come to Jesus meeting about what is truly a “moral example” for us to set as a society. For example, I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t have said, “Make him suffer for being too poor or sick to afford healthcare”. Jesus also probably wouldn’t have said “Pull the plug, she doesn’t have healthcare!” either. While on a certain level this isn’t how I would always explain things, but it gets the point across loud and clear, right? We need to realize if people can reach the same conclusion in different ways. One way versus the other isn’t necessarily right or wrong. We can just recognize them as different paths. Hopefully, we can all at least reach the same conclusion at the end and be content with more people arriving at or near that same point (no matter how they may have got there). Maybe, then finally more people in the middle and the right will be saying, “Well, with George W. Bush, the Left is finally right!”