My blue state bubble is trying so hard to reach out. Just one example: a local organization (The Evergrey) planned a field trip to a red zone in hopes of creating some kind of… understanding? It seems every other person on the bus is reading Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance’s memoir about Appalachian culture. And my media diet offers an all-you-can-eat buffet of calls to empathize with Trump voters.
But in New York Magazine, Frank Rich asks if soft hearted lefties are wasting their — our? — time:
But for those of us who want to bring down the curtain on the Trump era as quickly as possible, this pandering to his voters raises a more immediate and practical concern: Is it a worthwhile political tactic that will actually help reverse Republican rule? Or is it another counterproductive detour into liberal guilt, self-flagellation, and political correctness of the sort that helped blind Democrats to the gravity of the Trump threat in the first place? While the right is expert at channeling darker emotions like anger into ruthless political action, the Democrats’ default inclination is still to feel everyone’s pain, hang their hats on hope, and enter the fray in a softened state of unilateral disarmament. “Stronger Together,” the Clinton-campaign slogan, sounded more like an invitation to join a food co-op than a call to arms. After the debacle of 2016, might the time have at last come for Democrats to weaponize their anger instead of swallowing it? Instead of studying how to talk to “real people,” might they start talking like real people? No more reading from wimpy scripts concocted by consultants and focus groups. (Clinton couldn’t even bring herself to name a favorite ice-cream flavor at one campaign stop.) Say in public what you say in private, even at the risk of pissing people off, including those in your own party. Better late than never to learn the lessons of Trump’s triumphant primary campaign that the Clinton campaign foolishly ignored.
from Longreads https://longreads.com/2017/03/23/empathy-schmempathy/