September 27, 2020

Blue and Red America Differences Could Hurt Democrats

Give Politico’s chief Washington correspondent, Ryan Lizza, some credit. After Michelle Obama’s speech capping the first night of the Democrats’ virtual convention, he tweeted: “Story of an era in two convention speeches: Barack 04: ‘There’s not a black America and white America . … there’s the United States of America.’ Michelle 20: ‘my message won’t be heard by some people’ because ‘we live in a nation that is deeply divided.'”

But who’s to blame? Democrats like to load all the blame on President Donald Trump, and, despite their continued failure to cite evidence for his “racism,” there’s no denying his coarse insults have contributed to an increasing sense of national division.

Balance that off, however — at least a bit — by recognizing that bipartisan electoral politics inevitably divide a citizenry, as it has ours since former President James Monroe was reelected without opposition in 1820. That Era of Good Feelings ended four years later when a four-candidate deadlock made the House decide the election. It’s been division ever since.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama’s 2004 speech made an Illinois state legislator into a plausible presidential candidate, an African American whose election promised to smooth over racial divisions as the election of John Kennedy in 1960 smoothed over Catholic-Protestant divisions. Such hopes buoyed Obama’s rapturous crowds from Denver’s Mile High Stadium to Berlin’s Tiergarten to Chicago’s Grant Park in 2008.

The letdown came well before Donald Trump descended that Trump Tower escalator in June 2015. Gallup showed the percentage of Americans rating black-white relations as very or somewhat good plunging in Obama’s second term, from 70% in 2013 to 51% in 2015. The 2014 exit poll showed 38% of voters believing “race relations in this country” had “gotten worse” in the last few years, versus 20% saying they’d “gotten better.”

Plainly, there was a sense of disappointment, of optimistic and perhaps unrealistic expectations being unmet. Comments by the president and his appointees about incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere probably contributed to this. But it surely also reflected continuing poor conditions and relatively high crime rates in many (not all) predominantly black neighborhoods.

Distinctions between Catholics and Protestants became less visible after 1960. Distinction between blacks and whites did not after 2008.

And politically, the Obama presidency left us in an America very sharply divided into two countries. Responses to COVID-19 have widened the already sharp partisan differences between big cities and the countryside. Democrats have vastly overestimated the virus’ death rate and its danger to people under 75, and have embraced stringent lockdowns and mandatory masking and social distancing. Republicans’ estimates have been closer to reality, and Republican states like Florida, Texas and Arizona have taken milder measures.

Partisan media (and Democratic convention scriptwriters) have hailed Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, despite his persistence in sending infected patients to senior citizen homes and the resulting high death rates. They’ve denigrated Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, though his 450 COVID-19 deaths per million is a fraction of New York’s 1,690.

There’s also a vivid contrast between the “mostly peaceful” (translated into English: often violent) demonstrations in hip Portland and Seattle; the criminal mobs in Minneapolis and Chicago; and the relatively calm and intact exurbs and small towns.

You could argue that Democrats’ extreme risk aversion and the resulting lockdowns have imposed hideous damage on Democratic turf. “New York City Is Dead Forever,” read a headline by Manhattan comedy club owner James Altucher. With restaurants, bars, museums and clubs closed down; storefronts up and down the avenues boarded up; and giant office buildings near empty, a de-policed Manhattan has been transformed from a garden into a combat zone. Zoom technology threatens to make unnecessary the face-to-face interactions that have always drawn professionals there.

Teacher’s union members’ refusals to return to school, despite overwhelming evidence that kids don’t get and don’t transmit the virus, may end up promoting school choice. Colleges and universities going virtual may demonstrate their dispensability.

The partisanship that has made Democrats shun (and Republicans embrace) hydroxychloroquine has made Democrats, even those thronging to Black Lives Matter demonstrations, much more determined to vote by mail — and prone to implausible U.S. Post Office conspiracy theories. The actual problem, misstated by Donald Trump, is that in many states, many ballots may be improperly filled out or not delivered on time. You can request a postal ballot in Michigan the Friday before the election. Good luck getting it delivered by Tuesday.

Democratic convention speakers are blaming Trump for not stamping out the virus, for the lockdowns’ economic devastation and for intensified partisan rancor. He’s made mistakes and missteps, but the charges are over the top. Maybe they’re an attempt to cover up the differences between red and blue America, which don’t work to Democrats’ advantage.

Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

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11 Responses

  1. Looking at Michelle’s performance of recent, seems to confirm the allegations that it was she that truly hated our country and influenced BO in much of what he did/does. They are NOT Americans in the true sense, they are, in my opinion, more loyal to the Muslim countries and doctrines.

    1. Tried to read her book;, “Becoming.” I got through maybe 50 pages of self-aggrandizement and returned it….gagging all the way.

    2. ANYONE notice their house mate is a muzzie? AS I read years ago her mom is head of the womens group and pops is head of the mens! Wonder where and why bo is sooooooo led. Plus he brought in a plane load of brown shirts in the dead of night. Has spread their evil around, and had read where there is a special camp for the rest. Doesn’t anyone else remember when all the ammo was out, and none to be had? Then a report said he bought it! The why and what for were NEVER given! The part of the W/H lawn was fenced off, trucks and workers wore no ID as to the company. NO explanation was ever given! HHHHMMMMMMM

  2. You are so Right about the Idiotic Democrats. They blame President Trump for everything. If Hde discovered a cure for Cancer They would find something to criticize regarding the cure because it was TRUMP. My family members and I about 25 of us will leave the USA if Biden becomes the President. The man has Dementia.

  3. This accusation of division can be placed directly at the feet of the democrat leadership. They are the ones who are allowing, NO, pushing this rioting, police weakening, riots and burning, and holding the American public hostage from recovery and Biden says if he wins he fully intends to reaffirm lock down and prevent children from school. They want the economy to collapse so they will be in TOTAL control of all American rights. Just take a simple look at how Pelosi and the teat suckers have treated the people in this pandemic so far.

  4. All of us Americas,regardless of color,really need to vote for all of the republicans,to help our country recover from all of these terrorist that are attacking and destorying our country.All of the states and towns that has commie crates for their officals are disgraceful.I pray that some one will be elected that loves America and do what is right for a complete and speedy recovery

  5. Michelle Obama is as stupid as her Husband, all she can do is make a lot of noise, and if any one believes what she has to say is a stupid as she is

  6. Are the teachers getting paid while they sit at home? If they are, that’s probably why they don’t want to go back to teaching. If they are, they are like Pelosi and taking pay for doing nothing. They should be fired and bring in new teachers that aren’t in the teacher’s union.

  7. It’s going to be finish of mine day, except before end I am
    reading this great piece of writing to improve
    my experience.

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