The Democratic “lack of respect” doesn’t come from Democrats and the policies that Democrats promote. That lack of respect comes from an industry and political movement constantly pushing the idea that Democrats look down on rural white males. This industry promotes such things as excesses of political correctness or a liberal professor who said something “offensive.” And pundits demand why aren’t you showing more respect?
Democrats either have to abandon their values and policies – the policies that help these same voters – or try for symbolic gestures of respect, that will be rejected anyway.
In the world Republicans have constructed, a Democrat who wants to give you health care and a higher wage is disrespectful, while a Republican who opposes those things but engages in a vigorous round of campaign race-baiting is respectful. The person who’s holding you back isn’t the politician who just voted to give a trillion-dollar tax break to the wealthy and corporations, it’s an East Coast college professor who said something condescending on Twitter.All that makes me think is what these voters want is respect for their racism.
So what are Democrats to do? The answer is simple: This is a game they cannot win, so they have to stop playing. Know at the outset that no matter what you say or do, Republicans will cry that you’re disrespecting good heartland voters. There is no bit of PR razzle-dazzle that will stop them. Remember that white Republicans are not going to vote for you anyway, and their votes are no more valuable or virtuous than the votes of any other American. Don’t try to come up with photo ops showing you genuflecting before the totems of the white working class, because that won’t work. Advocate for what you believe in, and explain why it actually helps people.
Finally — and this is critical — never stop telling voters how Republicans are screwing them over.