Left and Right

Too Much Stigma, Not Enough Persuasion

A leftist writer describes how the Left has managed to shoot itself in the ass by acting like fools.

By Conor Friedersdorf

The Atlantic

The coalition that opposes Donald Trump needs to get better at persuading fellow citizens and winning converts, rather than leaning so heavily on stigmatizing those who disagree with them. Chief among the problems with stigma as a political weapon?It doesn’t work.

So I declared after election day. And today, to start exploring the subject more deeply, I offer a case study of stigma wielded both needlessly and counterproductively.

The backdrop is the intra-left debate about “identity politics.” Did they cost Democrats the 2016 election? Or not? Is that even the right question? The subject was on Bernie Sanders’s mind when a woman in the audience of a post-election speech he gave declared that she wanted to be the second Latina senator and asked for advice.

Sanders expressed agreement that the political process needs more people of color. Then, perhaps thinking of Hillary Clinton’s failed “I’m with her” campaign, he advised:

It is not good enough for somebody to say, “Hey, I’m a Latina, vote for me.” That is not good enough. I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country, and is going to take on the big money interests… This is where there is going to be division within the Democratic Party. It is not good enough for someone to say, “I’m a woman! Vote for me!’” No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.

Here’s where stigma begins to enter the picture. In The Washington Monthly, contributing writer Nancy LeTourneau argued that Sanders demeaned his Latina questioner.


3 replies »

  1. The Blue-Red tribe map you linked to shows that the Reds would win an insurgency. They would own the countryside and starve out the cities. Just like in Nam, Algeria and Afghanistan.

    • But the Blues would have control of the coasts and many of the border regions. They could import the resources they needed by sea, transport them to landlocked blue zones by air, and essentially trap substantial portions of the Red territories in the heartland. The Reds might be able to hold out by practicing autarky for a long while, but it seems both teams would be facing considerable challenges.

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