Democrats need to read more writers like Bret Stephens. If only they could overcome their own aversion to self-criticism and reflection.
The New York Times columnist was accused of being a "white nationalist" this weekend after he wrote a column about the Democratic presidential primary debates. In "A Wretched Start for Democrats," he wrote that current Democratic messaging will alienate the middle-of-the-road voters they need to flip in order to win the White House in 2020.
The ridiculous Spanish-speaking of Beto O'Rourke and Cory Booker, which was panned even by the Left, will not appeal to voters who are already worried about how candidates promised to use their tax dollars to fund health insurance for millions of undocumented immigrants, he argued.
Columnist Kristen Soltis Anderson on the expanded Washington Examiner magazine
Stephens' father was from Mexico, and Stephens himself speaks Spanish. A Never Trumper, he isn't writing about himself or how he will vote. He's making a strategic argument based on the opinions of many voters in America. If they don't want to lose voters to President Trump the same way they did in 2016, Democrats would be wise to listen.
Instead, they proved his point. Iranian American scholar Reza Aslan called Stephens a "white nationalist" for using the language of "they" and "us." Broadcast journalist Soledad O'Brien called him "a full on bigot."
Responding to the criticism, Stephens wrote that "they unwittingly demonstrate a style of moral bullying and progressive demagoguery that turns people off and plays into Trump's hands."
He added, "I hear @soledadobrien is a decent person. I assume she will apologize."
To which she responded, "You do not deserve an apology. Go back and read your terrible column."
When it comes to the Democratic debates, Bret Stephens was right. Democratic 2020 candidates took to the stage last week to tell viewers that the economy, despite its low unemployment rate and rising wages, isn't working for them. If Democrats want to win, they should reconsider the way they frame life in America. Stephens put it this way:
"What conclusions should ordinary people draw about what Democrats stand for, other than a thunderous repudiation of Donald Trump, and how they see America, other than as a land of unscrupulous profiteers and hapless victims?
"Here's what: a party that makes too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country. A party that puts more of its faith, and invests most of its efforts, in them instead of us."
It's insane for liberals to call a columnist a white nationalist for pointing out how Democratic rhetoric may alienate voters by pandering to noncitizens at their expense. Instead of acknowledging his political commentary, they attacked Stephens for saying something they didn't like. Even after he further explained his position, clarifying that his column was a representation and not an endorsement of these potential voters' views, they continued their bullying.
There's nothing racist about acknowledging that Democrats are quickly running out of other people's money to promise voters (and nonvoters). There's nothing white nationalist about acknowledging that many voters will bristle at the idea of offering health insurance to undocumented immigrants. That kind of language will enliven leftist circles, but Stephens simply argued that the Democratic Party needs to appeal to voters beyond its base.
Nothing is more indicative of the Democrats' leftward lurch than their idea that appealing to moderate voters is a "white nationalist" idea.