Big-city liberals and their blogging buddies love to paint Tea Partiers as yokels with incoherent candidates and language-mauling signs. (Some have even dubbed their misspellings and grammatical gaffes “Teabonics.”) On some level, this may be true. But there is also a certain hypocrisy to these taunts.
The unpleasant fact that these liberals rarely mention, and may not know, is that large swaths of the Democratic base, groups they need to vote in droves next month — blacks, Hispanics and young people — are far less civically literate than their conservative counterparts.
Therein lies the hurdle for the Democrats: How can they excite this part of the base that is not engaged and knowledgeable in an off-year election? How can they motivate these voters to help Democrats maintain their Congressional majorities when, according to a poll released this week by the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of blacks, 42 percent of Hispanics and 35 percent of voters ages 18 to 29 years old don’t even know that Democrats have a majority in the House? It’s sad. Pathetic, really.
But it’s a political reality. (Only 71 percent of Democrats overall knew that Democrats had a majority in the House. By comparison, 82 percent of Republicans knew it.)
Instead of focusing like a laser on this problem, part of the White House’s new strategy appears to be to pick a fight with the left’s ivory tower intelligentsia.
Vice President Joe Biden said at a fund-raiser on Monday that the Democratic base should “stop whining
.” The “professional left
” may be whining, but underengaged Democrats are simply wandering. And, by the way, many Democrats don’t even know who the vice president is. In the Pew poll, 64 percent of Hispanics, 51 percent of young adults and 45 percent of blacks could not name Biden as the vice president. (Only 35 percent of Republicans got it wrong.) It would seem that a lot of us were foolish to quibble over the VP candidate in 2008 ... a heartbeat away from the Presidency and many who voted for Biden don't even know his name?
In a Rolling Stone interview
this week, President Obama both described himself as a progressive and then laid into progressives for their “debilitating” mind-sets. Whom are you talking to, Mr. President? According to a Gallup poll released in July
, most Democrats didn’t even seem to know what a progressive was, and of those who did, slightly more said that it didn’t describe them than said that it did.
This high-altitude bickering is a waste of time. You can’t fight in the clouds if you want to win on the ground.
The smarter tactic is to build excitement rather than sow discord. For example, Obama has made a concerted effort recently to reach out to young people, and that appears to be paying off. According to a Gallup poll released on Friday, the Democratic advantage in the Congressional races among young voters jumped 10 percentage points from last month, producing the “widest generational gaps
so far this year.”
Excitement is exhilarating and contagious, even if you’re not aware of all the policies and players. Just ask those Tea Party yokels. Mr. Blow seems to conclude that all one needs to win an election is fire up the populace with some snappy slogans ... in Mr. Blow's words "sad ... Pathetic."