The results also put the Donald Trump phenomenon in a new perspective. Trump was needed to break the old GOP and make the party a vanguard of anti-elite resistance. But in 2020, with his moral degradation and everything in between, he was also holding back Republicans. If Republicans can find candidates who oppose the Blue Oligarchy but without too much Trumpian baggage, they can win over some former Biden voters in places like Virginia and New Jersey.
Democrats would be wise to accept the fact that they have immense social and cultural power, and accept the responsibilities that this entails in embracing what I would call whole nation progressivism.
America is fiercely divided along economic, regional, racial and religious lines. The job of leaders is to stand above these divisions and seek to heal them. The job of leaders is not to impose their values on everyone; it is defending a pluralist order in which different communities can develop their own values.
From FDR and LBJ to the bottom, Democrats have been good at bridging economic divisions. The watered-down spending bill struggling to find its way through Congress would be an important step in reallocating resources to the people and places that have been left behind.
But Democrats are not good at thinking about culture, even though cultural issues guide our politics. You cannot win a crop war by raising the minimum wage. In fact, if politics is to be a culture war – as Republicans have tried to do – I suspect Democrats cannot win it at all.
Democrats need a positive moral vision that begins by rejecting the idea that we are locked into relentless conflict along class, cultural, racial and ideological lines. It would reject all affiliations of the culture warrior posture – the us / them thinking, exaggerating the malice of the other half of the country, relying on raw essentialist stereotypes to categorize themselves and others.
Rather, it would offer a vision of unity, unity, unity. This oneness is based on the recognition of the complex humanity of each person – that each person is creating a meaningful life. He would reject racism, the ultimate dehumanizing force, but also reject any act that seeks to control the market for ideas or intimidate those with opposing views. This would reject ideas and movements that seek to reduce complex humans to their group identities. He would defend racial, economic and ideological integration, and against separatism, criticizing, for example, how conservatives are often excluded from elite cultural institutions.