Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. (Submission Guidelines)

Democrats who want to win need to stop scolding Trump voters

Joe Loveland

Blue wave? We’ll see. In an off-year election when too many Democrats typically don’t vote, Democratic candidates and activists have a lot of work to do before they can win over enough 2016 Trump voters to fuel a wave that will turn the national political map blue.

The kind of work I’m talking about isn’t door knocking, fundraising and get-out-the-vote organizing. That’s important too, but I’m talking about messaging. So far this election season, much of the Democrats’ messaging has been ineffective to harmful.

On social media and on the campaign trail, I see a lot of self-indulgent, self-righteous scream therapy from the left. There is a lot of snide mocking and scolding of Trump voters. Trump voters are called “stupid,” “naive,” “racist,” and worse. As Trump becomes more untruthful, unhinged and un-American by the day, frustrated progressives lash out with greater ferocity at the 46 percent of Americans who voted for Trump in 2016.

Ridiculing Trump voters on a personal level is never politically helpful. But it is a bit more understandable during party caucus and primary season, when Democratic candidates are trying to out-liberal each other when preaching to the progressive, anti-Trump choir. But in the summer and fall of 2018, when Democrats need to appeal to 2016 Trump voters rather than other Democrats, they need to stop scolding.

Pushing Trump voters into deeper entrenchment

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good cathartic rant as much as the next guy or gal, and I’m frustrated with Trump voters too. But we all need to get more self-disciplined. All this constant chiding does is make 2016 Trump voters more defensive and prone to rationalizing another vote for Trumpublican congressional apologists in 2018. Every time I observe a Trump voter being castigated by a cocksure progressive candidate or activist, I can feel Trump voters getting more deeply entrenched in the Trump column.

Open-minded Trump voters, and there are some, need a face-saving way to justify and explain a move away from Trumpism. So for messaging during the 2018 campaign, the villain needs to be Trump and his post-election flip-flops, not Trump voters. The messaging needs to focus on Trump’s failure to keep his 2016 promises to Trump voters, not on Trump voters being stupid in 2016. That’s an important nuance.

Here’s what it would sound like for a candidate to run against Trump lies rather than Trump voters:

I don’t blame Trump voters for wanting a president who promised he would drain the special interest swamp in D.C. I wanted that too. But the fact is, as president, Trump did the complete opposite.

And I don’t blame Trump voters for wanting someone who promised to make the wealthiest 1 percent to pay more, not less. I wanted that too. But the fact is, as president, Trump did the opposite.

I certainly don’t blame Trump voters for wanting someone who promised better health care protections. I wanted that too. But again, as president, Trump did the opposite.

So, if I seem angry, I am. But I’m not upset at Trump voters. I’m furious at President Trump for lying to his voters and all Americans.

As mad as I am, Trump voters have a right to be a thousand times angrier at Trump. When someone lies to you, it’s because they don’t respect you enough to be honest. They lie because they think you’re too stupid to know the difference. But in 2018, Trump is going to learn that many of his 2016 voters aren’t stupid, and they now see through his betrayals and lies.

That’s how it could sound verbally. This is how the messaging strategy looks graphically:

Some won’t be persuaded 

I’m not naive about this. I understand that this messaging nuance won’t persuade every Trump voter. Nothing will persuade Trump voters who are deeply racist, closed minded, or hopelessly brainwashed by the propaganda spewed on Fox News and conservative talk radio.

But this approach gives progressives a shot at winning a modest subset of Trump voters, such as the many voters who were more anti-Clinton than pro-Trump. Given that Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by 2 percent, the attraction of even 5 percent of those 2016 Trump voters could be enough to make Nov. 6, 2018, into a Blue Tuesday.

Winning in 2018 and limiting Trump damage is worth taking a pass on the cathartic message of “I told you so.” So my fellow Democrats, if only for the next five months, let’s get disciplined and stop nagging Trump voters.

Joe Loveland is an independent Twin Cities-based communications consultant who blogs at Wry Wing Politics.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, see our Submission Guidelines.)

Comments (65)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/02/2018 - 09:08 am.

    The question of when the Trump administration policies begin to affect Trump voters negatively in a personal way is the answer to when Trump voters abandon Trump.

    For example, when will the mounting deficits and debt from the tax cuts become an issue via cuts to programs like Medicare and Social Security ? Will they ever be connected, because after all of these decades the links between Republicans and mounting debt are still not known to the Republican voter.

    For this election cycle, I don’t think there are many downsides that Trump voters will recognize as hurting them yet.

  2. Submitted by Matt Haas on 07/02/2018 - 10:01 am.

    Wouldn’t one

    First need to believe that such a subset of voters exist? If a little chiding is all it takes to push them to retrenchment, could it not be argued that they weren’t that “open-minded” after all?

    • Submitted by Joe Loveland on 07/02/2018 - 10:39 am.

      Poll: Voters want a check on Trump

      You may be right, Matt. But there are some hopeful signs on this front. An excerpt from a recent Washington Post article for your consideration:

      “…by a whopping margin of 48-23, voters are more likely to support a congressional candidate who promises to be a check on Trump. And by 53-31, they are less likely to vote for a candidate who has supported Trump’s positions more than 90 percent of the time.

      These numbers get more striking when you look at how they break down in all of the House districts that the Cook Political Report designates as competitive. According to the good folks at NBC, who sent over these numbers:

      By 52-19, voters in competitive House districts are more likely to support a congressional candidate who promises to be a check on Trump.
      By 55-28, voters in competitive House districts are more likely to support a congressional candidate who has opposed Trump most of the time.

      And so, in a whole lot of competitive seats mostly held by Republicans, majorities are more likely to vote for the candidate who will act as a check on Trump and will oppose him on most of his policies.”

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2018/06/07/voters-really-really-want-a-check-on-trump-this-new-poll-confirms-it/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.2f729c6e588c

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 07/02/2018 - 11:12 pm.

        A note

        While the general polling might appear rosy, it also fails to take into account what happens when actual faces occupy those position statements. Not to mention what actually constitutes a “competitive” district. Competent candidates still need to be fielded to tap into that sentiment, and finding such, particularly in traditionally conservative areas is always a crap shoot. Even then, I fear the thrust of what your trying to imply is that somehow rationality is going to win the day when confronting what is, at the core of it, an appeal to emotion. That assumption has been a losing strategy for a very long time.

  3. Submitted by Paul Yochim on 07/02/2018 - 10:12 am.

    Tolerance!!!

    Those who preach the virtue of tolerance are perhaps the most intolerant of anyone with an opinion that differs from theirs.

    • Submitted by Joe Loveland on 07/02/2018 - 10:49 am.

      My point is not “be tolerant”

      My point is not “be tolerant.” My point is to full-throatedly criticize President Trump in a way that will disempower him rather than inadvertently empower him for another two years.

  4. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/02/2018 - 10:33 am.

    Don’t Blame Trump Voters?

    Sorry, but I do blame them. They are the ones who installed a narcissistic bully in the White House. For anyone to say they are surprised by the way his administration is an admission that one is either a liar or hopelessly naive.

    I also blame them for continuing to support his fiasco. Trump’s support continues to hover around the same levels, meaning the “more anti-Clinton than pro-Trump” voters are clinging to their choice. This means they must approve of the lies, the irrational policy shifts, and, yes, the continued bullying and name-calling. If they are not stupid, they can see what is going on. Are they really frustrated, or, as some who participate here seem to do, are they enjoying the spectacle of the oldest functioning democracy turning into a sleazy cage match (riling up the liberals is especially fun!)?

    There are too many who enjoy the spectacle for me to be sanguine about the efficacy of reasoned arguments and understanding. Reasoned arguments and understanding are hopeless when you’re dealing with people who revel in brutality.

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 07/02/2018 - 12:01 pm.

      And exactly what will that do to help? Make the hole at their end of the boat larger?

      Are you suggesting at all Trump supporters “revel in brutality”?

      I see plenty of people who supported Trump that aren’t stupid, but were upset and (yes) naive. They were issuing a protest vote. I suspect many of them are not as enamored of Trump now but are reluctant to admit it. I believe the high approval rating for Trump among Republicans is boosted by the desire not to appear that they backed the wrong person.

      There is little to be gained by making them more defensive.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/02/2018 - 12:49 pm.

        Do all Trump supporters “revel in brutality”?

        Enough of them do to let it continue. Those who don’t revel in it are certainly willing to tolerate it.

        “I see plenty of people who supported Trump that aren’t stupid, but were upset and (yes) naive.” What, then, did they think they would be getting when they voted for Trump? How is he in any way different from his campaign persona? Apart from the fact that he’s not flying around in a jet with his name emblazoned on it, there doesn’t appear to be any difference. What we saw is what we got. This administration reminds of the lyrics from the opening number of Evita:

        “Instead of government, we had a stage;
        Instead of ideas, a prima donna’s rage.”

        “I believe the high approval rating for Trump among Republicans is boosted by the desire not to appear that they backed the wrong person.” That’s an interesting riff on the Bradley Effect. May I suggest an alternate hypothesis: They aren’t too crazy about his style, but nothing he’s done has hurt them yet, so what the heck. There’s a couple of extra dollars in the paycheck now, and his taunts and insults are towards other people. The prima donna today is smart enough to direct his rage away from his supporters. The majority of them are not yet affected by a trade war, and why do they care about alienating our allies (aren’t all Canadians just amiable doofuses? Bob and Doug MacKenzie come to life?)? Let them deal with it.

        We may be too far gone from our moral and culture groundings as Americans to heal this particular riff. If trying to reason with Trump supporters does any good,m okay, I’m all for it. I’m just not convinced it will help that much.

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 07/03/2018 - 07:12 am.

          The Hottest Places in Hell

          There is little to no difference between those who revel in Don Trump’s brutality and those who are merely willing to tolerate it.

    • Submitted by David LaPorte on 07/02/2018 - 12:13 pm.

      Decent people can get conned

      Personally, I don’t “blame” most Trump voters. They believed him and that was a mistake. But they’re no more culpable than people who were taken in by a con game.

      There are two groups that I DO blame:

      A minority of Trump voters were motivated by xenophobia, misogyny and racism. I won’t pretend to defend those people. Hatred is an odious reason to caste a vote. But this is NOT true for the vast majority of Trump voters, most of who are good people who thought (mistakenly) that Trump was their savior.

      But I reserve the greatest share of the blame for the 46% of eligible voters who didn’t vote. Voting is a civic obligation. We’ll never know who they’d have voted for, but they did not participate in the democratic process.

      On a larger issue, while Trump certainly can’t be ignored, the Democrats have to have a vision that is broader than just “we hate Trump”. They need to explain why people SHOULD vote for them, not just why they should vote against their Republican opponents. Obstruction of the sitting president is a Republican strategy that we saw for 6 years under Obama. The 2018 election shouldn’t be the Democrat’s turn to be just as bad. This is their chance to make the country better and they should explain to the electorate how they’re going to do that.

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 07/02/2018 - 11:01 pm.

        The national turnout

        Has vacillated between 50 and 60 percent for the last 120 years or so. Courting that 46% percent has been the quixotic dream of every liberal for far longer than I’ve been alive, at least, and every conservative too, I imagine. It’s the foundational myth of the “vast silent majority” after all. It would be better for all of us to recognize that number for what it is, the number of people who, for whatever reason, do not, and cannot be persuaded to, care about the state of the nation, nor be counted upon to lend numerical support to whatever notion of consensus anyone wishes to portray. They aren’t votes to be won, the vast majority at least, we shouldn’t expend precious resources pretending they are.

        • Submitted by Joe Loveland on 07/05/2018 - 04:40 pm.

          Increasing turnout & getting swing votes not mutually exclusive

          I’m all for investing heavily to get more non-voters to vote, even though history tells us that also has proven to be an elusive dream of many a candidate and party. Always worth trying, far from easy or certain. I advocate tilting at both those windmills — swing votes and historic nonvoters — because we need every vote we can spare. They’re not mutually exclusive.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/08/2018 - 10:09 am.

        Getting conned

        Sure, decent people can get conned… but at this point if you realized you were conned decency isn’t the problem. And frankly, every week that goes by becomes makes it more difficult to see people who support these policies as truly decent people. I the majority of decent people have already dropped out.

    • Submitted by Donatello Rasmarchski on 07/03/2018 - 12:53 am.

      Amen.

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/02/2018 - 11:07 am.

    PR drivel

    We have to distinguish between Trump voters, and Trump supporters. This is the difference between people who voted for Trump, but would likely not vote for him again, and those who actually support Trump and his policies even now. We know that the numbers of actual Trump supporters makes them a minority. THAT base isn’t big enough to keep winning elections, and Trump himself is tearing the Party apart in many ways.

    Winning the next election or any election will not depend on flipping Trump supporters, that’s simple math. Winning elections will depend on turnout, we know Trump supporters are minority, they actually lost by 3 million votes. Scold away… we don’t need their votes to win.

    Loveland’s analysis is basically incoherent because he assumes that Trump supporters are driven further into the fold by liberal scolding, and THAT assumption is simply false. If you look at the culture and information bubble Trump supporters live in it’s obvious that liberal scolding one way or the other doesn’t drive their descent into the abyss, their’s is a voluntary descent.

    Marketing people like to pretend they’resocial scientists sometimes… but their not. If you do any kind of serious analysis of Trump and his supporters you find that they are a “true believer” phenomena, and no matter how much evidence they are confronted with they will double down on their support. There’s nothing Democrats can to do change that mindset because it exists independently. It doesn’t matter whether you scold people or not, they’re going to double down no matter what. These folks are NEVER going to vote a Democrats, even one who doesn’t scold them.

    • Submitted by David Therkelsen on 07/02/2018 - 04:15 pm.

      On politics, marketing and social science

      Marketing people don’t pretend they are social scientists, but the best of them, and I’ve known many, do indeed stay knowledgeable in behavioral science fields such as psychology and sociology. Loveland argues there is a subset – small, but “enough” in the marginal world of politics – of Trump voters who can be drawn away if they can admit to themselves they were wrong in 2016 and still save face. He argues that a frontal challenge to their past actions and behaviors will only cause them to dig in their heels further. Both propositions are well supported by behavior science scholarship. His thesis stands up.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/03/2018 - 09:02 am.

        Actually no, it’s not science, and the thesis doesn’t hold

        The first mission of marketing… is to sell marketing. The problem is that marketing isn’t nearly as effective as marketers would have you believe. Almost every candidate that loses, every product that fails, and nearly every business that goes out of business had “branding” and marketing specialists on the payroll at some point. If you think cigarettes kept selling after 1962 because of the genius of mad men instead of the addictive nature of nicotine… you’ve been watching too much television.

        Be that as it may, the idea that Democrats can only win if they somehow persuade Trump voters is just centrism masquerading as scientific observation. There is little or no science behind the claim that Trump supporters will abandon Trump if Democrats stop scolding them. Anyone who’s taken any time to study and understand Trump supporters would tell you that these people don’t care how liberals treat or respond to them. The idea that Trump support is some kind of Pavlovian response to ridicule defies reason.

        Politically the idea that Democratic victories depend on chasing Trump voters is simply centrist nonsense. Trump didn’t win as much as Hillary failed to not lose. Democrats have been losing for decades because they insist (often times at the suggestion of marketing consultants) on chasing unlikely conservative Republican voters instead of likely liberal voters. The Clinton campaign actually thought Republican voters would help put her over the top… they were surprised that so many Republicans voted for Trump. If Democrats want to win, they need to stop chasing votes they’ll never get and start chasing votes that will put them in office. As many commentors have pointed out, it’s a question of turn out, not turn over.

        • Submitted by David Therkelsen on 07/03/2018 - 06:58 pm.

          There is science and strategy, and the thesis does hold

          Mr. Udstrand misconstrues my point and that of Joe Loveland. Indeed, the best behavioral science and the best marketing strategy would be largely in agreement with Mr. Udstrand. It is indeed the case that most voters and potential voters are firmly pro- or firmly anti-Trump and their minds will not be changed. Democrats seeking to win in 2018 and 2020 should devote zero resources to trying to win the votes of hard-core Trump supporters. They should devote only minimal resources to the hard-core opponents, only enough to reinforce their positions.

          But the argument here is about subsets. Loveland argues that there is a subset of Trump supporters who never were fully comfortable with their choice, only that they saw no better choice. This subset, after two years of seeing what their votes have wrought, can be brought to a different choice this next time around, provided they are given a “better” choice, and provided they are not attacked for what they did two years ago – not “scolded,” in Loveland’s words. If they are scolded, they will counter-argue, and find justification for what they did, not what Democrats want them to do. They will dig in their heels. Sorry, but this proposition is well-grounded in psychology research, which is to say, in science.

          Since the 2016 Presidential election was decided by 80,000 votes in a handful of states, the importance of subsets couldn’t be more clear. And indeed, most political contests are decided in the margins – not by the vast majority firmly rooted in one position or another, but by the few who are open to movement.

          This has nothing to do with cigarettes and addiction. It does have to do with sound strategy, that is grounded in understanding of the behavioral sciences.

          I do agree with Mr. Udstrand that the even more critical consideration will be turnout. Both sides will devote enormous resources to turning out their base, as well they should. But that is all the more reason for the Democrats to be smart in trying to attract the subset of 2016 Trump supporters who have some buyer’s remorse.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/05/2018 - 01:55 pm.

            OK, let’s look at the subsets..

            The most decisive subset that’s been identified since the election was the Obama voters who failed to turn out for Clinton. Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million and that still didn’t get her into the White House. The numbers indicate that the REAL swing votes for Democrats are the Obama voters that didn’t show up, not the Trump voters who weren’t comfortable with Trump. And to the extent that there may be Trump voters who were uncomfortable at the time, THAT subset is low hanging fruit, they’re the least likely voters to stick with Trump whether they’re scolded or not. The suggestion that there is a subset of remorseful Trump voters is a mundane observation pretending to be shrewd insight. There is simply no coherent argument that of all the voters Democrats can chase… these are the most critical votes that will make or break the midterms.

            On one level this just looks like doubling down on the failed assumption that moderate Republicans are going to put Democrats over the top… that assumption failed spectacularly in the last election.

            Look, all Loveland is saying is that it may not be nice to scold people. That’s a legitimate observation in polite social circles, but whether or not is has any political utility in the current election cycle, is doubtful.

            A lot of people are out of their comfort zones these days, and while feels kinda weird, it’s probably necessary. Recapturing old comfort zones is probably not the big problem we need to working right now.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/06/2018 - 10:29 am.

            To be more succinct… regarding subsets

            OK, maybe a few people have noticed I have a little trouble keeping my comments short.

            Look, chasing small subsets instead of large cohorts is exactly how Democrats lose elections. So to the extent that his small subset exists… it makes no sense to chase their votes. Focus on where the largest number of voters are… not where the smallest number of voters are.

  6. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 07/02/2018 - 11:58 am.

    Mr. Loveland’s main point is this:

    “So for messaging during the 2018 campaign, the villain needs to be Trump and his post-election flip-flops, not Trump voters. The messaging needs to focus on Trump’s failure to keep his 2016 promises to Trump voters, not on Trump voters being stupid in 2016. That’s an important nuance.”

    This assertion takes my breath away, in its incompleteness about WHY Trump voters voted for him, and about Trump’s total focus in his presidency to date with fulfilling his campaign promises. [One also tires of pseudo-“Democrats” telling Democrats what to do inn 2018’s elections, but that’s another story.]

    Trump has only flip-flopped once (after huge national outcry about his separating immigrant children from their parents). He’s ready with excuses, too. For the most part, he’s fulfilling his campaign promises, which were astonishingly racist and misogynist and unconstitutional and violent.

    Remember those Trump rallies that TV channels televised, for free, in their entirety in 2015 and 2016? He promised ultra-conservative, and youngish, Supreme Court justices to reverse the “PC” trend in social issues, like abortion. He promised to ban Muslims from this country and to prevent Latino immigrants from getting inside the U.S. He promised a whiter America, and browbeating our allies in trade agreements that brought jobs back. He promised to abolish Obamacare and, despite losing the Senate vote on eliminating Obamacare by one ballot, he has continued to undermine it in ways the general public is unaware of. He promised anti-regulation by government of industry and business on environmental and consumer protection issues, and he is accomplishing that in agencies who work under the radar while we all debate about “the nature of the Trump voter” ad nauseam. He has cut taxes for himself (to the tune of about $31 million less tax yearly) and his wealthy peers, and fooled those at the bottom that their $1.50 more per week is Great! He has fulfilled his promises to Russia and Putin, too–although you have to really pay attention to realize that–about the “unfairness” of not having Russia in the G7 and having that awful thing called NATO. Etc.

    I could go on. He’s doing precisely what he told his followers he would do, and say.

    Trump’s supporters fall into two camps: those who are personally benefiting from his policies (most of the werathy businesspeople in America support Trump, no matter what, given his tax cuts for them and the removal of pesky regulations), and those who don’t really know what he’s doing–they just go with their uninformed gut.

    But both types of Trump supporters will continue to support him. America’s only hope is to elect Democrats by appealing to the majority of Americans, who are massively more liberal or leftist in their common values and open, tolerant, inclusive policies to implement them.

    Nobody cares about the die-hard Trumpites any more. They are an unreachable minority of this country, So be it.

  7. Submitted by Steve Rose on 07/02/2018 - 12:27 pm.

    Do the Math

    “And I don’t blame Trump voters for wanting someone who promised to make the wealthiest 1 percent to pay more, not less. I wanted that too. But the fact is, as president, Trump did the opposite.”

    The opposite? This Business Insider details the tax brackets, showing that earnings in the income brackets between $9526 & $157,500 (single filers) get an income tax break of 3% to 4%, while earnings in the top two brackets get a break of 0% to 1.6%. How are the wealthiest paying less?

    http://www.businessinsider.com/tax-brackets-2018-trump-tax-plan-chart-2017-12

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/02/2018 - 01:13 pm.

      The article you reference is all about tax brackets but has nothing to do with outcomes at the end of the tax form….

      (quote)

      The Tax Policy Center broke it down a little more. Those in the lowest-earning fifth of the population would see their income increase by 0.4 percent. Those in the next-highest fifth would receive a 1.2 percent boost. The next two quintiles would see their income increase 1.6 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively. But the biggest increase, 2.9 percent, would go to those in the top-earning fifth.

      https://www.thebalance.com/trump-s-tax-plan-how-it-affects-you-4113968

      (end quote)

      The highest income group sees their income rise the most under the tax plan. That’s a fact, but hey, thanks for proving peoples point about misinformation on the right.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 07/02/2018 - 06:31 pm.

        Outdate Estimate

        Tax brackets have nothing to do with the outcomes at the end of the tax form? Please explain the math behind that statement.

        Your quote, for which I provided a link below, is from a November 2017 estimate of the Senate plan. That is not the bill that was passed.

        http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/sites/default/files/publication/148831/2001605-distributional-analysis-of-the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-as-passed-by-the-senate-finance-committee_1.pdf?wpisrc=nl_finance202&wpmm=1

        Below, the author admits that he is using dollars and not percentages to support his narrative. This is a common approach used to make the point that the rich are not paying their fair share, and it needed to be pointed out.

        • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 07/03/2018 - 11:22 am.

          Well…

          The wealthy get all the benefit of the cuts on the lower brackets, plus they reap the vast majority of the benefits of the corporate tax cuts.

          • Submitted by Steve Rose on 07/03/2018 - 11:54 am.

            That is the Politics of Envy Narrative

            Those in the lower brackets receive a larger tax cut on all of their earnings.

            We all enjoy the benefits of a vigorous economy; this is the first time ever that there are more jobs than job openings.

            • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 07/03/2018 - 01:05 pm.

              Traditional economics are broken

              Wages are still stagnant despite all of this good news.

              • Submitted by Steve Rose on 07/03/2018 - 02:56 pm.

                About 3% Growth

                Wage is growth is sluggish, but is typically a trailing indicator in an economic recovery. +2.9% growth from January 2017 to January 2018. One factor is productivity. This New York Times article offers some interesting analyses.

                https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/01/business/economy/wages-salaries-job-market.html

                • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 07/03/2018 - 03:48 pm.

                  Productivity

                  The “sluggish productivity” explanation would be more compelling if wages and productivity hadn’t been diverging for the last 40 years. Workers are still waiting to cash in on decades of improved productivity for which they haven’t been compensated for.

                  • Submitted by Steve Rose on 07/05/2018 - 07:46 am.

                    40 Years of Automation Advancement

                    What these productivity calculations fail to take into account is advances in automation. I will use an example with which everyone can identify; check-out at a retailer like Target or Cub. One employee supervises six self check-out stations. Is that one employee checking out six customers simultaneously? Yes, with the help of automation. They are very productive with respect to what one employee could do ten years ago. Should they be paid $72 per hour? If so, the job could be done for a lower cost without the automation using six employees. Once minimum wage is increased to $15 per hour, look for these retailers to add more self check-out stations.

                    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/05/2018 - 09:33 am.

                      Which is Another Way of Saying

                      Advances in automation will increase productivity, but will also keep wages low.

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 07/05/2018 - 10:53 am.

                      Economic Dynamism

                      Wages will remain low for those that punch prices into a cash register; fewer of them are required since bar code scanners came into vogue in the 1980s, and punching numbers gave way to dragging the products across a window. However, higher paid positions are available designing, building, programming, and maintaining those automation systems.

                    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/05/2018 - 12:22 pm.

                      Awesome!

                      All those souls who work at “dragging the products across a window” have to do to stay employed is to get enough education to get a job “designing, building, programming, and maintaining those automation systems.” I’m sure it will be no problem to find the time and money to do that, even for those who have no real aptitude for that field.

                      A larger supply of those technically-trained folks won’t do anything to drive down wages.

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 07/05/2018 - 03:26 pm.

                      You may have heard of the Luddite Rebellion

                      You don’t need to know how to do all of those things to get a job, one or two will do.

                      In the 19th century, textile workers (weavers, sewers, and tailors) felt threatened by state-of-the-art technology – sewing machines. So, they revolted and smashed sewing machines to protect their livelihoods. Even with that resistance, technology advanced. It happens; there are very few jobs for elevator operators.

                      2018 is the first year in U.S. history that there are more available jobs than unemployed Americans. Automation will be continue to advance

    • Submitted by Joe Loveland on 07/02/2018 - 02:36 pm.

      83% of benefits to wealthiest 1%

      You say toe-may-to and I say toe-mah-to. You say percentage and I say dollars. Let’s call the whole thing off. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/12/18/16791174/republican-tax-bill-congress-conference-tax-policy-center

  8. Submitted by Bill Gallip on 07/02/2018 - 12:37 pm.

    Give people a real reason to vote for Democrats

    Asking the voter to pull the lever for your party as a protest against the other party isn’t necessarily the best strategy. I didn’t vote for either Hillary or Donald in 2016 because I didn’t, and still don’t, trust either of them, but I did vote. Trump won because he was selling a vision, whether you agree with it or not it was still a vision that apparently connected to enough voters to put him in the White House. What vision was Hillary selling? What vision is either major party selling for this November?

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/02/2018 - 01:20 pm.

    To put it more succinctly- If Democrats want to win:

    Democrats need to stop trying to “persuade” Trump voters and focus on the rest of us… We have the numbers, they don’t.

  10. Submitted by Lauren Hebert on 07/02/2018 - 01:33 pm.

    Um…

    @ “the 46 percent of Americans who voted for Trump in 2016.”

    Barely 50% of eligible voters even voted… Trump got what, 25 or 26% of the electorate? And this same block of voters continues to support him.

    This is NOT a Presidency with a mandate to do anything, really.

    All that said… I think the Democrats best strategy is to ignore him and run positive campaigns focussed on what they want to accomplish.

  11. Submitted by Mike Gunnar on 07/02/2018 - 03:58 pm.

    Magnitude of Support?

    I’ve a sincere question for Trump supporters, most of whom I believe voted to better their own interests, which is expected and just fine with me (though I think they were duped).

    What percentage of current Trump supporters would continue to support him if he suspended elections? Imagine there was another terrorist attack or some story about rigged elections or whatever and Trump said we must postpone elections until a later date. What percentage of supports/GOP would say that was ok?

    My guess is 70% of Trump supporters would be fine with such a suspension. You?

  12. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 07/02/2018 - 05:01 pm.

    Talk about scary, Mike!

    Remember: Trump has already been validated as using “national security” as his reason for doing just about anything his gut moves him to do. Muslim ban. Deport immigrant parents without their little children. Impose tariffs willy-nilly. Break treaties. He has learned that he can get away with that. And he now thinks that he knows the job of being President, and can do it alone (“I alone can fix it,” 2016 campaign), ignoring even his close advisers.

  13. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 07/02/2018 - 05:59 pm.

    Terminology

    Progressive and Democrat are not synonymous. The establishment wing of the Democratic Party of the Pelosis, Schumers, Clintons and several others is neo-liberal, not progressive. Without a clear progressive message in the November election, Democratic gains will be minimal.

  14. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/02/2018 - 06:40 pm.

    My 2¢

    I usually agree with Messrs. Holbrook, Udstrand and Rovick, and to a degree, that’s still the case, even with the contradictions therein, at least this time. Trump supporters and Trump voters deserve every bit of criticism leveled at them, as does the Current Occupant himself – a small-time con man given immense power that he doesn’t quite know what to do with except to line his own pockets and those of his friends and relatives while indulging in every form of bigotry he knows.

    Chastising Trump voters for putting him in office, while fully justified (he’s pretty much been exactly as advertised during the campaign), will NOT help Democratic candidates win their own races. Biting the hand that figuratively feeds you is a losing strategy. Thus, I find myself nodding in agreement, at least substantially, with Lauren Hebert. Criticize all you want privately, but in public, and in campaigns, Democrats locally, state-wide, and nationally ought to be pounding on a more positive message that centers on “We have a better vision for a better society, and here’s how we’ll make it happen.” Then they’ll need to provide some specifics that do NOT involve additional taxation of already-overburdened lower and middle-class voters. Different priorities need to be clearly stated, different strategies for addressing what seem to be perennial problem areas laid out just as clearly, especially in the economy, and if villains are still needed, and I know this sounds oh, so naive, but go after your Republican opponents and the policies they favor. If they’ve taken policy positions that benefit the few at the expense of the many, or that reward the upper 5% while damaging the other 95%, don’t just mention it, pound on it relentlessly. “Candidate ‘X’ doesn’t represent you. S/he represents special interest ‘Z,'” or “This policy exhibits our worst instincts instead of our better ones,” or “Freedom means nothing if you can’t take advantage of it to improve your own life or the lives of your family members.”

    Democrats will get nowhere by criticizing voters. Tell ’em how you’re going to make government work better, smarter, and more fairly than your Republican opponent.

  15. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 07/02/2018 - 11:29 pm.

    Is attacking opponents really the way?

    “As Trump becomes more untruthful, unhinged and un-American by the day”

    Perhaps offering ideas and what you’ve done to implement them (that would be you Senators Amy and Tina) might be a better way. Seriously, with Collins and Murkowski on the other side you can’t write and pass a bill to pass the Senate?

    And remember, politics really is local, you’re not running against President Trump (at least don’t admit it) you’re running against someone who cut your taxes or re-built your road or tried to fix the VA or IRS or FBI…

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/03/2018 - 12:12 pm.

      Doing the Math

      “Seriously, with Collins and Murkowski on the other side you can’t write and pass a bill to pass the Senate?”

      There are 47 Democrats in the Senate, and 2 independents. Assuming all of them voted and that they all voted the same way on a bill, and assuming Senators Collins and Murkowski joined them, that would make the total vote 51. Yes, that’s a majority, but Senate rules, as a practical matter, require 60 votes for legislation to pass. Nine more votes are needed.

      In any event, what good does it do to pass just the Senate?

      “(that would be you Senators Amy and Tina)” It’s not belittling at all to refer to female Senators by their first names, is it? Especially not when Republican Senators are referred to by their last names in the same paragraph.

  16. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 07/03/2018 - 10:24 am.

    Admitting Mistakes

    After the re-election of G. Bush in 2004, his supporters wasted no time before they turned on him. Why would Don Trump’s voters be so fearful of showing regret when many of them has no inhibitions in doing so with Bush?

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/03/2018 - 12:45 pm.

    Anyways, who asked this guy for advice?

    I understand this is a commentary and people write them, I’ve written them myself, but really, this is kind of a non-issue. Or maybe we’re conflating two different issues here- one is interpersonal relations, and the other is campaign policy.

    Everyone I know, myself included, has been telling Democrats even before Trump got elected that they cannot win by simply attacking Trump or being anti-Trump. In that regard Mr. Loveland’s advice it about a about two years late and a dollar fitty short. And I don’t see anyone running a campaign based on scolding or insulting Trump supporters, so there again, this is advice in search of a customer.

    The other day I saw a guy at Costco wearing a red: “Make America Great Again” cap… I resisted the urge to go over and call him an A-hole. I didn’t do that for political reasons, I just happen to not be a sociopath. Whatever.

    Over the last two years the most common refrain I’ve heard from Trump supporters is that they voted for and support Trump because they wanted to throw a hand grenade into the government. The basic characteristic that has defined Trump supporters is a willingness if not an actual desire to attack a variety of fellow Americans and human beings in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. When you throw hand grenades into other peoples living rooms you provoke a response, THAT’S human psychology and the nature of society. Societies tend to break down when one group of people is allowed to attack another with impunity. People clash with other people when they’re attacked, that’s how culture and society work. The idea that those under attack need to figure out how defend themselves without “offending” their attackers is a formula for oppression and political and social disintegration, not to mention electoral defeat.

    We’re not fighting in the streets yet, but we will be if we don’t turn this around, and we’re not going to turn it around by appealing to sociopaths who believe in attacking their fellow citizens. If these guys haven’t listened to reason by now, we should assume they can’t be reasoned with.

    Sure, we live in a free country (for the time being, and despite the impulses of Trump and his supporters) so Trumpsters have a right to their votes and their opinions. No one is saying we should round them up, they’re our neighbors, relatives, and fellow citizens, we can live with them. But we have to defeat them politically, and we can’t give THEM the power to decide whether or not we prevail by organizing our resistance around their egos.

  18. Submitted by Joe Loveland on 07/03/2018 - 01:51 pm.

    Thanks for pondering my food for thought, and for the spirited conversation. Happy 4th of July everyone, and long live the First Amendment!

  19. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/05/2018 - 01:42 pm.

    Trump voters

    I don’t scold Trump voters, but I do view them with condescension, something which I work hard, but perhaps not always successfully.

    Let’s face facts, here. Trump voters voted for a guy who thinks Obama was born in Kenya. Is it really fair for them to expect others to take them seriously? Isn’t that really asking too much of us?

    • Submitted by Joe Loveland on 07/05/2018 - 04:26 pm.

      Only need a few, and they’re not all birthers

      Polls say 42% of Republicans believe Obama was born outside the country. That’s incredibly depressing and disgusting, but it’s important to acknowledge that it is well short of 100% My point: Somewhere within the other 58%, there might be 5% that might vote to check Trump’s power if frustrated progressives, myself included, stop repeatedly screaming “racist, birther, moron” at them as if they are some kind of a KKK monolith.

      Again, I agree with the point most commenters in this threat have made that there are Trump supporters who are unpersuadable. We are in violent agreement on that point. Hence this section of the commentary:

      “I understand that this messaging nuance won’t persuade every Trump voter. Nothing will persuade Trump voters who are deeply racist, closed minded, or hopelessly brainwashed by the propaganda spewed on Fox News and conservative talk radio.

      But this approach gives progressives a shot at winning a modest subset of Trump voters, such as the many voters who were more anti-Clinton than pro-Trump. Given that Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by 2 percent, the attraction of even 5 percent of those 2016 Trump voters could be enough to make Nov. 6, 2018, into a Blue Tuesday.”

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 07/06/2018 - 07:27 am.

        Polls say …

        The polls say that Hillary Clinton is President. In 1998, a Star-Tribune poll had Skip Humphrey winning the race for governor; he came in third. It seems that the polls commonly overstate the success of Democrats. Some polls, like these, get tested by elections. Others, like where people think Obama was born, never will be tested. They are just assumed true, and those quoting them like they are the truth, don’t reference a source.

        All of the free media ($2 Billion) or “earned media” Trump received, most of it negative, got him elected. Outrage sells and it will get him re-elected too if the Democrats and their complicit media stick to the same script.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/upshot/measuring-donald-trumps-mammoth-advantage-in-free-media.html

        • Submitted by Ed Day on 07/07/2018 - 04:48 pm.

          Free Media

          No argument here, but don’t forget Clinton’s ads that highlighted his insensitive remarks about women, Mexicans, and a disabled journalist. Those weren’t just free — his opponent paid to air his message!

          • Submitted by Steve Rose on 07/08/2018 - 07:47 am.

            Same message

            That is the same “very bad man” message that the media pounded nonstop for free. It seemed the only message that Hillary had to offer; his transgressions were worse than her’s. Her inconvenient truth was that she bullied Bill’s accusers and provided cover for his misdeeds. It worked well for him but not so much for her.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/09/2018 - 01:56 pm.

            Exactly!

            Too many Trump supporters regard his uncouth behavior as a feature, not a bug.

            Some of that crowd may have sufficient self-awareness to think that it is wrong for them to enable that kind of bheavior. Those are the people who fall back on the shop-worn “What about Clinton?”

  20. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/06/2018 - 06:30 am.

    Polls say 42% of Republicans believe Obama was born outside the country. That’s incredibly depressing and disgusting, but it’s important to acknowledge that it is well short of 100%

    It’s amazingly high percentage. But what is vastly scarier is the Republicans who believed Trump was lying about Obama voted for Trump anyway. Really, those are the folks I am tempted to condescend to most.

    Most voters are persuadable in the sense of talking them into changing their vote. That helps to explain why so many Republicans voted for someone who was manifestly unfit to be president.

    Trump did lure some Obama voters, I hear. But let’s also bear in mind that he did lose the popular vote by a significant margin. I often encounter voters who tell me they are going to vote against all incumbents. I imagine some voters used that as a rationale for switching from Obama to Trump. I smile at them, hopefully not in a visibly condescending way and move on. I never, ever scold them.

  21. Submitted by richard owens on 07/06/2018 - 09:52 am.

    The Trump administration has committed crimes against humanity.

    Do the Trump supporters know? Do they care?

    What is the responsibility of the Citizen in such circumstances?

    Bullying our allies and praising autocrats? Is that “American”?

    Can a democracy survive when its people accept lies and propaganda as truth and fact?

    C’mon, citizens, we do have some role to play in stopping this authoritarian.

  22. Submitted by Joe Musich on 07/06/2018 - 03:31 pm.

    People who voted…

    for Trump will not be doing it again. Separating families has guaranteed that. What concerns me is that the attitudes among many people regarding bootstraps, the gospel of wealth, and race issues were present before he came to the front. Clear efforts are still not being implemented to wipe these ugly ideas out of existence, Couple those ignorant attitudes with the recent ruling in Michigan about the rights to education and the fuse is lite. But it all has to be met head on. Being polite to a bully never prevented me from being harassed and beaten. Few strategies are available.it is always comforting to know there is more in the good category then the other. But we better get our tools together.

  23. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 07/06/2018 - 04:39 pm.

    Trump seated 1 (soon to be 2) constructionist SCOTUS justices.

    That alone earns him loyalty. But he’s not stopped there.

    He is rebalancing the federal lower court judiciary.
    The economy is booming. Unemployment is down.
    The flow of foreign nationals across our border has slowed.
    The hard work of reducing our trade deficits is started.
    He’s entered into negotiations with Norko.
    He’s removed the hob nailed boot of regulatory agencies from the necks of our businessmen and women.
    Although weaklings in the GOP ranks failed to recind it cleanly, Obama care is dying of its own weight.

    These are the things people like myself voted for Trump to do. He’s fulfilling his campaign promises. There is a good chance that he’ll have the opportunity to nominate yet another SCOTUS justice in his second term.

    If leftists plan to diminish his power in the midterms, and deny him re-election, they are going to have to convince us those were not worthy goals.

    But by all means, keep screeching epithets…really hurts our feelings. Owie.

  24. Submitted by Joe Musich on 07/06/2018 - 09:10 pm.

    I have to ask…

    I wonder what would happen if Trump were to hold a rally three nights in the same place? I just have the feeling that attendance would diminish. I think there is this thing in the Trumposphere about not backing down in public. But in private is another thing despite the enflamed rethoric it only seems to coming from a very few. I do not believe this has been measured accurately private vs public thoughts.

  25. Submitted by Tom Crain on 07/07/2018 - 02:13 pm.

    Unconvinced

    I am unconvinced by the authors assertion that “Democrats’ messaging has been ineffective to harmful” in regard to Trump voters. His claim that Democratic candidates and activists includes calling Trump voters ” “stupid,” “naive,” “racist,” and worse” is unsupported by even a single example of this ‘messaging’.

    While I’m sure the comment sections of newspapers and blogs are full of frustrated Dem voters using these (often accurate) descriptions for Trump voters, it hardly shows that Dem pols are making this communication mistake.

    Maybe the author could provide an example or two. His graphic puts specific examples in quotes, yet give no attribution to these quotes by any Dem politicians or organizations.

  26. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/08/2018 - 06:12 am.

    Calling people things

    Of course, it’s at the very least, problematic to call people whose votes you are asking for and need bad names. But the problem is unavoidable, really, because Trump works very hard himself to cast his voters as victims and as the target of disdain. And this is coupled with the fact that Trump supporters themselves know they have done something fundamentally wrong and irresponsible within the context of our history and our republic. As Al Gore likes to point out, truth can be inconvenient.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/08/2018 - 10:17 am.

      And….

      It’s not actually name calling when you’re just making an observation. The characteristics we’re discussing here are publicly verifiable. If you don’t think Obama was born in the US, you’re ignorant, that’s not a “name”, it a verifiable fact. We can go down the list, and it’s a long list. As a society we have to tolerate ignorance and stupidity, but as a body politic and a nation we have to defeat ignorance and stupidity… not normalize it or try to accommodate it as feature of our political system. We can’t let these people make important decisions and expect to survive. They’ve already shown who they’ll vote for, so we just have to win elections without their votes… isn’t that obvious?

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/09/2018 - 05:57 am.

        Name calling

        It’s impossible to avoid accusations of name calling. That’s because Trump, and just as importantly, Fox News will insist on putting their supporters and viewers as the targets of liberal disdain. They will always find some liberal saying something along those lines, and even if they can’t, they will find some liberal saying something that can be forced in to their pre-existing favored narratives.

        Winning elections is a complicated thing. They are won not in the mainstream but around the margins, in that pool of voters who are genuinely undecied about whom they will vote for and whether they will vote. We have chosen a system for ourselves where the loser of the popular vote by a significant margin can actually win the presidency. How to unravel that particular complexity is especially difficult problem.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/09/2018 - 09:58 am.

          This is how liberals get lost…

          This impulse to be afraid of speaking truth to power for fear of being “accussed” of something is how liberals silence themselves and leave field to extremists. Republicans will always launch accusations and attacks against their perceived enemies, that’s simply unavoidable. Yeah, people who disagree with you… will disagree with you. Any serious battle for political power entails attacks and counter attacks. Trump doesn’t worry about what kind of accusations Democrats will come up with… and he won.

  27. Submitted by Roy Everson on 07/09/2018 - 09:24 am.

    Great restraint clouds the obvious

    Democrats as a group are showing great restraint by not claiming that a good share of GOP support is flatly unamerican. These Trump supporters approve of authoritarian and hateful rhetoric, policies that tilt largely against non-whites, oppose rights of women and are okay with voter suppression and gerrymandering which favors Republican outcomes. In other words, a slew of positions that contradict basic American values.

    But unamerican is in the vocabulary of the Right, not the Left, so despite the credible case that could be made don’t look for Democrats to engage the point. To their credit they’re the party of restraint.

Leave a Reply