David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. May. 15, 2018 4 min read

1. Yessssss finally @paulwaldman1 has said the thing that needs saying. You can thank him for this tweet thread being about 75% shorter than it woulda been. Read this:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2018/05/15/why-democrats-cant-win-the-respect-of-trump-voters/?utm_term=.8e2865b0226c 

2. So much talk about Democrats' "message" to rural & suburban whites, and the way they treat rural & suburban whites -- 99% of which proceeds in total, willful ignorance of the current media environment.

3. To put it bluntly: Democrats have virtually no control whatsoever over what rural & suburban whites (R&SW) hear. None. It doesn't *matter* what they say, what attitude they take, the tone they use, the message they craft. They have no way of reaching those R&SW directly.

4. Everything R&SW know or hear about Democrats or liberals, they get through a media filter. That mostly means Fox News (et al). And Fox is in the business of crafting a ludicrous, bug-eyed, cartoon-evil caricature of liberals. THAT is what R&SW hear from/about Dems.

5. And it's not just right-wing media. "Mainstream" media like CNN etc. have adopted pretty much the same caricature. They know that "arrogant liberal mocks salt-of-the-earth diner guy" stories are catchy. They sell. They pop. Everybody knows the caricature already.

6. There's a reason Obama spent 8 years reaching out to the other side, begging for cooperation, being scrupulously respectful toward Republican voters ... and one, single, off-the-record, wildly-distorted comment is all most R&SW people know about him.

7. That didn't just happen. It's the result of RWM & MSM alike peddling the same hackneyed morality tale that country mice have been telling about city mice since there were cities. That impression of Obama, so at odds with the reality, was deliberately & vigorously cultivated.

8. Trump & his kids have a long history of expressing contempt toward workers generally & coal miners specifically. GOP has let coal miners get sick & die & done nothing but use them as props. H. Clinton cared about them & crafted a $30 billion aid package to help them. But...

9. ... S&RW don't know that. All they know about Clinton is that one stray, poorly worded comment she made about coal miners. Their distorted view didn't just happen. RWM & MSM alike seized on the remark, willfully misinterpreted it, played it on repeat. It fit their narrative.

10. My point: if the media wants to reinforce a narrative of snooty coastal libs looking down their noses at heartland rubes -- and it *very, very much wants to* -- there's no stopping it. There's no way for every single lib to speak so carefully that nothing can be distorted.

11. And, conversely, it hardly matters at all what Dems decide they want to communicate to S&RW. They can craft empathetic messages until they're blue in the face -- THEY DON'T CONTROL WHAT THOSE PEOPLE HEAR. (Sorry for yelling.)

12. So, on one hand, you can relax about your jokes & tweets & aesthetic judgments. They are not "why Trump won." His voters don't see jokey liberal tweets or read leftie media. They don't ever see you or your kind directly.

13. They only know you as the caricature Fox presents. And Fox is heavily invested in that caricature, financially & ideologically, so it's not like any amount of respectful respecting on your part is going to persuade it to *change* that caricature.

14. But don't let gaslighting conservatives and onanistic "centrists" fool you into thinking the caricature is the reality -- fool you into another oh-so-liberal spasm of self-loathing. It's not what liberals do or say, but what Fox SAYS they do or say, that pisses off S&RW.

15. Actual liberals exist on cable news almost entirely as phantasms, discussed in absentia by panels consisting of nonpartisan mainstream journos and right-wingers ("balance" in cable news). They -- esp the non-white, non-male kind -- are rarely allowed to speak for themselves.

16. Anyway. The whole "liberals are smug" thing is dumb, dumb, dumb. It's been around for centuries & it's always been dumb. It's a narrative that requires no actual liberal smugness to perpetuate itself. Some libs are smug; some cons are smug; people are annoying; whatever.

17. As always, the best way to stay sane & succeed in politics is to ignore this media circle jerk (as Obama famously did & Trump famously doesn't) & focus on power & policy. Only power & policy matter. Your taste in f'ing salad greens really doesn't. </fin>

18. OK two quick addenda. First, by "Fox" I don't just mean the channel itself (w/ it's few million viewers); I'm using it as a stand-in for the whole RW culture-war industry -- Sinclair local stations, talk radio, websites, FB groups, etc. The whole dealio.

19. Second: one reason libs think/talk so much about tone & message, & so little about the power & mechanisms necessary to actually reach people, is that the former is about words & ideas, which libs love & all believe themselves to be expert in, whereas ...

20. ... the latter is about ruthless deployment of money and power to gain advantage, which all too many libs believe themselves to be above. (At least I didn't go over 20!) </actual fin>

Oh, and here's more on Hillary"s coal 'gaffe.'  https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/energy-and-environment/2017/9/15/16306158/hillary-clinton-hall-of-mirrors 

You can follow @drvox.


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