Democratic strategist James Carville unleashed on 2020 Democratic candidates for pulling the party too far left and warned Democrats are at risk of seeming “culturally arrogant” to the working class. His rant began on a viral MSNBC segment this week after the chaos of the Iowa caucuses, then he extended his admonishments in an interview with Vox.
Vox Writer Sean Illing seemed to question whether Carville’s strong reaction was warranted. Are Democrats “really destroying the party?” he asked. “What does that even mean?” Carville admitted that at the end of the day, he would vote for Bernie Sanders should he win the nomination, but reiterated, as someone who lives in the South, that the Democratic Party should not represent themselves to the public as socialists like Sanders. Here are the top warnings Carville issued to elite, coastal Democrats.
1. Stop Talking About Issues That Don’t Matter to Voters
Carville complained how candidates spending time on the debate stage discussing issues that do not win on a national level, issues like: open borders, decriminalizing illegal immigration, banning nuclear energy, banning fracking, giving criminals and terrorists in jail the right to vote, and more distractions.
He reflected on how Democrats won in 2018 by doing the opposite. “We just had an election in 2018. We did great. We talked about everything we needed to talk about and we won. And now it’s like we’re losing our d-mn minds.”
2. Talk About Issues That Matter to Families, Working People
How do Democrats create a winning message? “By framing, repeating, and delivering a coherent, meaningful message that is relevant to people’s lives and having the political skill not to be sucked into every rabbit hole that somebody puts in front of you,” he said.
Carville praised ideas like Sen. Cory Booker’s “baby bonds plans,” which would deposit taxpayer dollars in an investment account for every child born to a low-income person, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s government child care plans as the “kind of thing the party could connect to people’s actual lives.”
3. Become a Majoritarian Party
Carville stressed that becoming a majoritarian party was critical, and going far-left with Sanders so quickly is not the path to Democrat power.
“Eighteen percent of the population controls 52 Senate seats,” Carville said. “We’ve got to be a majoritarian party. The urban core is not gonna get it done. What we need is power! Do you understand? That’s what this is about.”
Carville said the purpose of a political party is to acquire power. “Without power, nothing matters.”
4. Don’t Patronize the Middle of the Country
Carville warned that the smug, urbanist mindset was causing candidates to be distracted by the wrong issues and to lose connection with people in the South and the middle of the country.
He gave the example of New York Times writer Binyamin Appelbaum, who recently posted a “snarky tweet” about Louisiana State University.
LSU cancelled all classes, for everyone, for two days, because its football team is playing for the national championship.
Obviously LSU's professional football players aren't there for the classes, but this is some next-level stuff.https://t.co/UKXevWla1T
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) January 14, 2020
“You know how f—ing patronizing that is to people in the South or in the middle of the country?” Carville asked. “We can’t win the Senate by looking down at people. The Democratic Party has to drive a narrative that doesn’t give off vapors that we’re smarter than everyone or culturally arrogant.”
5. Don’t Lose the Most Important Vote: African Americans
When Illing suggested former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg seemed to be a more moderate candidate than Sanders, and thus more likely to beat Donald Trump, Carville pointed out Buttigieg’s biggest weakness: African American voters.
“Mayor Pete has to demonstrate over the course of a campaign that he can excite and motivate arguably the most important constituents in the Democratic Party: African Americans. These voters are a h-ll of a lot more important than a bunch of 25-year-olds shouting everyone down on Twitter,” he said.