My goodness, Kimberly, this is a valiant but ultimately sad attempt to deny what is really going on in American politics. You are simply cobbling together a bunch of talking points from the Centrist Democratic Establishment and trying — and failing — to make it sound plausible.
“But American elections are not rational-choice contests.”
This is nonsense, and I don’t know why you bother. EVERY election is, for many if not most Democrats, a “rational-choice contest.” It is called “voting for the lesser evil” and I have been doing that since 1980. Just look at the last election — the entire Democratic organisation, Bernie Sanders included, were telling us to vote for Hillary, even though we didn’t like her, because Trump would be a disaster. IOW, we were being told — as we are told in EVERY election, to vote with our head, and not our heart. Even Obama had to run on this “lesser evil” platform in 2012, when the entire country was disillusioned and angry because the change he had promised never materialised, and he had spent his first term running away from virtually everything he had campaigned on in 2008.
But, we were told, Romney was SOOOOOO bad we had to vote for Obama, because we had to (1) protect Social Security; (2) defend Medicare and Medicaid; (3) save SNAP and other public programs; (4) keep the GOP from putting another conservative on the Supreme Court and (5) stop Romney from cutting taxes even further on the rich and the corporations.
This is the same argument Dems always use: “vote for us, or the GOP will take away all these programs, such as they are.”
In short — we are always asked to make a rational-choice decision.
The difference is that NOW we have some candidates that are offering us a chance to rationally choose something we WANT rather than rationalise our way to voting for something and someone we DON’T WANT — only because the other guy is worse.
“Voters, with busy lives and a dizzying news cycle, don’t think about policy all that much unless someone compels them to do so, and they tend to mold their preferences to fit those of the candidates who do.”
Codswallop. I honestly don’t know where you get this stuff. It is absolutely 100% pure identity politics. If anything, I have seen this happen only once, and it was when Hillary supporters were bending over backwards and tying themselves into mental pretzels in an attempt to justify or defend Hillary’s right wing positions on healthcare, Wall Street money, Corporate America, war, and other issues. But that was different: Hillary was adopting positions that went AGAINST what the vast majority of Democrats and leftists wanted. It doesn’t apply to the Bernie/AOC agenda.
“Progressives who care about economic justice and money in politics must adjust their thinking to this reality, and lay out a vision that ties these issues to voters’ basic desires for identity and belonging.”
Again, pure, unadulterated hogwash. Identity politics on steroids. You are talking about a “reality” that does not actually exist in the real world. It is not a “reality” that people somehow naturally want to vote based on their identity. Rather it is a manufactured situation that obtains only because the Democrats refuse to offer actual solutions, policies and proposed legislation. This is because the two parties basically agree on 90% of the policy issues (because they have the same donors). In the absence of substantive policy debate, our discourse has DEVOLVED to the fights over identity. And as you cans see, when our politics is solely based on what makes us different from one another, then things get ugly.
“That includes appealing to the Democratic brand as much as it does building out from it and reaching those who can still be persuaded to support an inclusive social-democratic society.”
Appealing to the Democratic “brand”-? OK, now I know you must be joking, or maybe you have been in a coma the last 10 years? The Democratic “brand” such as it is, is less popular than Trump. That is why they are wiped out.