James Carville To Democrats: Ditch The Radical Left If You Want To Win Any More Elections
“Six percent of adults in this country identify as ‘progressive.’ Only 11 or 12 percent of Democrats identify as progressive.”
Last November, Democratic strategist James Carville received significant backlash from the radical progressive left when he blamed “stupid wokeness” for Democrat electoral losses, particularly in Virginia. He wasn’t wrong.
And in an interview this week with Vox’s Sean Illing, he said essentially the same thing, though in slightly less stark terms. Noting that progressives constitute a very tiny fraction of both the Democratic Party and the general electorate, Carville suggested the outlandish idea that Democrats stop listening to them and begin listening to the majority of voters.
Look, I’m a liberal Democrat. Always have been. But some of these people bitching about Manchin can’t see political reality straight. Six percent of adults in this country identify as “progressive.” Only 11 or 12 percent of Democrats identify as progressive. So let’s just meet in the middle and say something like 7 or 8 percent of the country agrees with the progressive left. This ain’t a goddamn debate anymore. Someone like Manchin is closer to the mainstream than a lot of these people think, and pretending like he isn’t won’t help the cause.
. . . . First of all, like I said, only 11 percent of the Democratic Party is progressive. It’s the smallest part of the party. But the problem is they make 70 percent of the noise —
Yes, but also in newsrooms and academia and all over the foundations. All I can tell you is that this is what people hear. And what it’s done is weaken our political immune system. People believe this is what the party represents. “They want to defund the police.” “They want open borders.” “They want to empty the jails.” It’s defining the party.
He’s right, of course, but Democrats won’t hear it. They’ve convinced themselves that because some harebrained idea of their radical fringe “polls well,” they have a “mandate.” They never pay attention to the other polls that show that Americans top concerns are—as usual—the economy and jobs. We are also now seeing Bidenflation among voters’ top concerns.
And of course they never consider where we are as a country and how the electorate prioritizes issues. Sure, “free pre-K” polls well; it sounds great. But then add that taxes will go up, now in the midst of horrible inflation that is hitting Americans hard, and those polled will not be so enthusiastic.
This is always the case, when the American economy is working, when Americans have jobs and can pay their bills, they might be feeling fat and happy enough to consider more social spending, but it’s not a priority for most people, and it’s not at all popular when the economy is in a downward spiral and people have to choose between filling their gas tank and putting food on the table.
It’s like asking, “would you like to have a free Lamborghini?”; sure, that’s going to poll great. If you add that they will have to pay for it through higher taxes and more inflation, suddenly they are happy with their Honda Civic.
Remember how popular Black Lives Matter was at first? That lasted for about a minute because once the full cost of that disastrous anti- and unAmerican Marxist violent totalitarian movement was seen and felt, it was all over.
This disconnect between what sounds good in a poll question devoid of context and impact on average Americans and what Americans think when they find out what their shiny new fad or latest leftist boondoggle will cost is exactly what is dragging Democrats down. And that is what Carville is warning them about when he says to stop listening to the incompetent fantasists on the radical left fringe.
This is when the interview gets even more interesting. Illing just can’t understand why Democrat “messaging” isn’t working and even goes so far as to bemoan the fact that “Republicans have built a self-contained media ecosystem that delivers their version of reality straight to their voters.”
Okay, I’ll take the bait here because you’re hitting on a huge complaint of mine and I don’t think a lot of people — you included — are really grappling with it. You’re talking about perceptions and narratives and how the party is “defined.” And you want Democrats to speak plainly and not say and do things most voters don’t like so that they can salvage their national brand. Fair enough.
But I’m not at all convinced that Democrats can message their way out of this problem. Republicans have built a self-contained media ecosystem that delivers their version of reality straight to their voters, whereas the Dems still rely on traditional media to communicate their message. That’s the whole damn game, James. In the end, what voters hear is more important than what Democrats say, and they’re not hearing what Democrats want them to hear.
Imagine Republican audacity! After decades of being lied about and demonized by legacy media, Republicans finally figured out how to get their message to voters without being filtered through partisan media propagandists.
Banning and silencing conservative voices, telling them if they don’t like it to build their own, resulted in a “self-contained media ecosystem” that bypasses leftist censors. Who could have seen that coming? Oh, right, everyone—except the geniuses who dreamed it up and imagined that we’d shrug and say, “gee, I can’t tweet or use Facebook. Guess I’ll just watch some more Matlock.”
Carville lets Illing waffle on for a bit (read the whole interview) before cutting to the chase. No, Carville says, you can’t “message” away real-world problems, what the heck is wrong with you? Okay, he doesn’t exactly say it that way.
Look, there are also real problems. We have 7 percent inflation, right? We’ve had rising crime. The pandemic just won’t go away. The Russians are threatening to invade Ukraine. What people have is a sense of disorder, and that will kill you every time in politics.
Now, most people don’t think we’re going to have 7 percent inflation by November. A lot of people think that we’ll turn a corner with the pandemic after this latest burst. And if we’re still looking at high Covid rates and high inflation in November, Democrats are going to lose anyway.
But yes, right now what the general public is reacting to, more than Democratic messaging, is a sense of disorder in the country. It’s just hard to break through [with] a message in that kind of environment.
Illing doesn’t hear him, of course, and starts burbling about J6. Carville is not interested in that dead-end and tries to steer him back to sanity.
Part of Biden’s lack of power is because the Republicans see that the Democrats are whiny. They can feel that weakness in the Democratic coalition. And I’ve been dealing with it since the ’80s. There’s a significant part of the Democratic Party that doesn’t mind losing if it allows them to be pure. We’re obsessed with purity. That has got to stop.
We’ve got to do whatever it takes to get more political power and that means we’ve got to win some elections. Just win some goddamn elections. This is not a time to complain. It’s a time to act. So let’s talk about real things, in real language, to real people. And if we do that, we can still save the country.
Winning elections is a good thing for a political party to do? Who knew?
But Republicans needn’t worry, Democrats are not going to get it together any time soon. They have a nation to “fundamentally transform” against that nation’s wishes; they are far too busy to listen to voters or win elections.
After all, Carville notes, the radical left is “addicted to hopeless causes” and only gets excited about elections they have zero hope of winning.
Just look at how Democrats organize and spend money. For Christ’s sake, [South Carolina Democrat] Jaime Harrison raised over $100 million only to lose his Senate race to Lindsey Graham by 10 points. Amy McGrath runs for Senate in Kentucky and raises over $90 million only to get crushed by Mitch McConnell.
They were always going to lose those races, but Democrats keep doing this stupid shit. They’re too damn emotional. Democrats obsess over high-profile races they can’t win because that’s where all the attention is. We’re addicted to hopeless causes.
Long may it be so.
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You know the world has gone crazy when this goon is talking sense.
He’s always been somewhat sensible. I’ve disliked him because he knows he’s full of crap and doesn’t care. Politics is a game to him. This is why I have never considered him fully sensible because he has never acknowledged (or understood, I don’t know) that the game he’s played for decades could only turn into what we see now. There could be no other outcome. Unchecked power never ends well.
I think you are correct Colonel. This guy, it’s like he doesn’t even see the country around him. For him the politics are the end all and be all. Results for the American people could not matter less.
I have always disliked him because he is awful, but he does at least use a brain cell or two.
We are about to see a once in 50 year collapse and re-allignment of American Politics.
The Country Club GOP is becoming the Party of the Working Class, including minorities.
The Democrat Party is becoming the party of Fascist Big Government and Big Corporations. And, people who paid by the Government.
Well the opportunity for the shift away from chamber of commerce types to populist certainly exists. Though the HoR by its very nature is more prone to realignment than the Senate.
I am cautiously optimistic but the ability of McConnell and the RNC to intervene in primaries with massive funding to skew the outcome to the favored establishment candidate is something we can’t afford to underestimate. The establishment types won’t simply cede their control they will make those of us on the populist side work for every inch we gain.
At the same time, Chief, we don’t want to make the same mistake the progressive left is making. We need to recognize that there are huge (much larger in number than us) swaths of the centrist and right-leaning electorate who like the chamber of commerce types, who want what we see as squishie but they see as centrist and reasonable.
Just as there will not be an AOC type elected in Matt Gaetz’s district (I should know, I live here), there will never be a Matt Gaetz (or MTG, et al.) elected to even many red districts where their populism is seen as extreme (just as AOC could never be elected to a blue district that voted for a Blue Dog/centrist Dem). They don’t get this, but we really need to understand it and work with it.
Tilting at windmills in comments on blogs is fun (I do it, too, as you know), but it’s not at all realistic; in fact, it’s no more realistic than Bernie and his bros thinking he would ever be president or that America is just thirsting for Soviet communism if only he could shout about it more often.
That doesn’t mean we stop trying, but it does mean that all these circular firing squads on the right aren’t any less destructive and futile than they are on the left. We made a lot of mistakes in the 2010s with the Tea Party (nominating crazy people doomed to lose in districts that trended blue, purple, or only nominally red), and we need to be smarter this time, less emotional and more strategic/thoughtful. The MOST conservative/populist/whatever rocks your world candidate that can win should be the goal, not the elimination of chamber of commerce types because all that does is ensure Democrats win. I am not on board with the crazy idea that a Democrat is better than an establishment Republican; most Democrats (with some obvious, but rare, exceptions) will vote in lockstep with the commies, while even Smarmy McMittens sometimes voted with Trump or with the GOP pre- and post-Trump.
And don’t forget that money is not everything. Beto out-raised Cruz, the challengers to McConnell and Graham hugely out-raised them, Hillary out-raised Trump, and they all lost. Campaign coffers aren’t inconsequential, but they aren’t the be all and end all, either. Indeed, look at that trucker guy in New Jersey who defeated the state majority leader while spending $600 (or whatever amount it was)! “Populists” lose those seats you are talking about because they are not a good match for those districts or states more so than they are outspent.
Anyway, not even really responding to you, Chief, at this point, since I know you to be level-headed. I think I got off on one of my Fuzzy ™ tangents! 😛
No worries. The fact is each CD and each State has a different electorate and there are vast differences in what level/degree of candidate can be reasonably expected to win a general election.
That said it’s one thing to accept Senator Collins as the most conservative candidate in Maine. It’s very much another thing to accept that Graham in SC or Cornyn in TX are the most conservative candidates who can win their States.
I suppose my view would differentiate between populist right and establishment right on a basic question; does the existing or proposed policy/regulation/statute aid the middle/lower class working stiff and small business generally or does it directly or directly benefit big business?
The establishment v populist debate in conservative circles largely boils down to that point. Look at immigration; more workers = less incentive to raise wages. Healthcare; current tax policy favors large employers at the expense of small businesses. Domestic manufacturing was driven off shore largely through incentives to do so and disincentives to maintain significant domestic capacity; even in key sectors such energy, CPU, pharmaceutical. Add in the difference in appetite for military intervention between the groups and the contrast is pretty large.
IMO, that’s the battle. Between the more populist MAGA/Tea Party/True the vote/ non intervention groups and the establishment who largely favor using political capital on lowering capital gains taxes and unrestrained military spending and military adventures in nation building.
So it’s, IMO, not a national battle as much as a local one in which we hold these r officeholders, particularly the leaders, to account by insisting that they actually move the ball carried by the populist base and stop kubuki failure and fundraising off the issues they consistently refuse to address that matter to everyday voters; immigration, tax policy that favors small businesses, individual health savings accounts that receive redirected funding from Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies.
You make some great points, as usual, Chief.
The thing about Graham is that he is truly loved in SC. I thought (hoped) that might change with his stupid amnesty push with Kennedy and McCain, but when it didn’t, I saw the writing on the wall. That man will be a SC Senator for as long as he wants the job. Cornyn, I don’t get, but I think he keeps his head down and doesn’t make waves, so Texans vote for the (R). I can’t recall off-hand if he has ever even had a serious primary challenge? By serious, I mean not some lunatic like Christine “I am not a witch” O’Donnell. Geesh, remember her? That whole thing was painful.
So again, we have to be strategic. Not just run some crazy person who, against a Cornyn, looks even crazier.
Trump/MAGA has pulled the party in the direction you are noting, and that’s a good thing. We are finally making inroads with voters who should be natural Republican voters (patriotic social and cultural conservatives among blacks, Hispanics and Latinos, etc. who want to achieve the American Dream, who believe in equality of opportunity, not outcome) because Trump remade the party as the one for the forgotten man, the working and lower middle classes the Democrats openly disdained, dismissed, and ignored. That’s a good thing and has to be maintained and built upon.
I’m curious to see what happens with Liz Cheney. She has to go, and if she is reelected, we are in a far worse spot than I would like.
This nasty, vile man helped create the modern Democrat party and the current nasty tenor of our times. He promoted and defended the utterly indefensible by destroying anyone who dared to stand for decency or tell the truth.
To Hell with him, for now and ever more.
He’s another Bill Maher, horrified at what his past efforts have unleashed.
The Marxists have the ear, if he is making the calls which I doubt, of Sundowner or his puppeteers.
Never Interrupt your enemies when they are making a mistake Napoleon said.
And I’ll make a prediction right here – the Sundowner will choose the most radical Black woman he can find for the Supreme Court – even when there are other candidates who would get Republican votes.. He will tell us that he is “swinging for the fences”.
I don’t think they can cheat their way out of this mess. I’d love to see the House flip.
I would like to see it flip enough to matter.
I’d love to see it flip while filtering out the RINOs. Otherwise they just dilute the effort yet again.
The RINOs will be with us forever. We just have to make them respect the will of the free people over the siren song of dipping their hands into the river of money that flows past them every year. It’s an uphill road, I’ll admit.
Carville may at least partly be right. If they do not move away from the Bolsheviki amongst them, the Democrats may not win any more elections. The thing is, to the Democrats elections are an old fashioned and obsolete way of choosing the leadership of the country.
One thing left out of all this analysis is the fear factor. Many people (whether left or right) are terrified of the radical left. So they go along with stuff they know is crazy because they’re (correctly) sure that if they don’t, they’ll be destroyed by the crazies.
Interesting races by Carville to bring up.
Because Bitch McConnell and Graham were both worried enough about losing to beg Trump for help.
There are a lot of Democrats who claim they’re not loony leftists, and then you find out that they believe. So, they just don’t like the label. But, ok, take what little sense you can get.
It you vote with the looney leftists then you are by definition a looney leftist.
Or just a bought-and-paid-for hack, like the likes of Bill Kristol.
“Six percent of adults in this country identify as “progressive.” Only 11 or 12 percent of Democrats identify as progressive. So let’s just meet in the middle and say something like 7 or 8 percent of the country agrees with the progressive left.”
Well, the man can’t do math properly. The math falls right out if you consider that Democrats comprise just about 50% of the adults in the country. So the number isn’t 7 or 8 percent, it’s still 6.
The Cajun Crawfish may be past his prime–but he never was dumb.
Ho ho, James thinks the Democrats still use VOTES to win elections?
How 1990s of him.
They haven’t won any lately, they have stolen the elections.
The Liberty Tree needs a good shaking.
I’m sure the radical left will go quietly.
Other than Sineman and Manchin, who are the non-radical Democrats? He is speaking to people who do not exist.
Rush once related a quip from Jessie Jackson about Obama; he said while speaking with Bill Clinton, “In any other circumstance he (Obama) would be bringing us coffee.”
I believe there’s no love lost between Jessie and Obama.
How are the democrats supposed to get rid of the radical left when they infest every organ of national and local politics? The own the media, they own the tech companies, the own corporate America, they own the schools and universities….
Carville is so old Dem….He doesn’t grasp that his party is stealing elections and soon his branch of the party will not matter.
Of course he knows Dems steal elections. You don’t think that started in 2020, do you? He’s a Clintonite, fgs. He’s not an idiot, and he’s certainly not unaware about the machinations on the left (heck, he invented many of them). The interesting point here is that even he thinks it’s gone too far and is backfiring badly on the party. He’s not wrong.
It’s easy. Stop doing their bidding, at the top of the party, party leadership denounces–as loudly and often as it takes–the culture crazy, stops bending a knee (literally in some memorable cases) and calls for it to end. It will. The media and Big Tech will be the easiest ones to get in line.
Universities and K-12 will be harder, and in that case, Dems will just do what they always do when they want to distance themselves from destructive movements they created: sic the FBI and every other alphabet agency on them. It worked to quell/destroy/sideline the SDS, Weather Underground, Black Panthers, the KKK, and every other Democrat group that was hurting their actual agenda. And it will work this time, too, they just have to come to the same conclusion that Carville has: these groups are hurting the party, keeping them from political power, and must be tamped down.
They can do it in a New York minute, and they know it because they’ve done it many times before. Remember “Occupy Wall Street”? Where’d that go? Oh, right, they started making the Dems look bad, so “poof!” no more Occupy. Heard much about BLM lately? No? Gee, I wonder why.
Read that Time piece again about the “cabal”; there is nothing organic about the leftist march through our institutions, it’s guided and organized, and as such, can be shut down at any moment. They have the power to stop it all, and they will when they finally get that it is not working and, worse, is hurting them. Carville is sounding the alarm that the moment is nigh.
The problem this time is the Media runs the Democratic Party. The Media is their overlord.
How so? I see it as the exact opposite, but am willing to be convinced otherwise.
Lets not forget that great democrat money pit beto
You mean, Puto O’Rorke?
Carville is just another old Boomer yelling at the kids to get off his lawn. So are we.
Like it or not, the children are our future and the children are woke AF. Wokism is a religion to them, and very few people change their religion once they turn 25. If anything, they become more pious as they age.
America’s path has already been set, until the Millennials eventually die out. The only question is whether they’ll die of old age, famine, nuclear war or something else.
The disheartening part is that most Americans are lost and can’t see the forest through the trees, which is the only reason these these polls that later collapse inflated in the first place.
How bad do you have to be at world events to be so naive? No wonder a nanny state wouldn’t seem so bad for these hyper-emotive and immature sheep.
“First of all, like I said, only 11 percent of the Democratic Party is progressive. It’s the smallest part of the party. But the problem is they make 70 percent of the noise”
Exactly, but I’d like to add they also make about 90 percent of the threats, firebombs, deplatforming attempts, arson, and all kinds of uncivilized actions. It’s like having a class of 100 students, with one of them willing to slash your tires, kill your cat, and throw rocks through your windows. Like it or not, a teacher in that situation tends to slant their actions to appease the crazy one rather than teach the 99.
And this is the problem. Such a student should be reported to the police and expelled immediately. Appeasement is what is causing all these problems, and citing your fear of the left as a reason to acquiesce to their demands is . . . puzzling.
I am a longtime Democrat, or was until 2014 when Obama-Holder took the side of the rioters in Ferguson, Missouri. That was my so-called red pill, but it was not the only issue. My mantra during my finance career: “I’m a Democrat, but I’m not stupid about it.”
Let’s be honest for a microsecond. Folks, how many times, R or D, have you bitte your tongue while voting? It’s part of the deal. The Dems have been right about issues, but after 2010 or so, they took a hard left turn. I was always a “centrist” D until it became clear that my kind was being played.
I loved Carville. In many ways, my kind. Good to see him raging again, but it won’t matter unless the Ds get a whipping this fall and another one in ’24. I want there to be two strong, rational parties. It’s good for the country, and as someone who loves this country at the cellular level, country comes first.
I always liked him too, the ragin’ Cajun! Never agreed with him, of course, but I like his style. He cuts to the chase and says what he thinks without bothering about whose feewings he might hurt. He’s a Party guy, though, so his goal is always to protect the Democratic Party. He’s also not a commie, so that is another plus.