American Opinion: Democrats might be politically correct, but they're strategically wrong
Summary: Democrats need to ask themselves what’s really important for voters. Do Americans really want to be told how to speak, or do they want to protect abortion rights? Do moderates want to be badgered on social and political correctness, or do they want to make sure Trump stays out of the White House and that his insurrectionist followers are booted from Congress?
While Democrats were spending their political energies enforcing gender-neutral vocabulary to please their progressive base, Republicans were executing a methodical and, frankly, brilliant strategy to solidify their base with the singular objective of overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Now the left is rising up in outraged protest at the unfairness of it all.
Republican leaders recognized long ago that they are under no obligation to holster their brass knuckles and play nice. Even though America’s demographics suggest the GOP grip on power should be waning steadily, the party is instead fighting well above its weight. Democrats are helping them every step of the way.
What will it take to shake Democrats into action? The 2000 presidential election, won by Democrats but handed to Republican George W. Bush by a narrow Supreme Court ruling, had no lasting impact on Democratic Party mobilization. The rise of racist, obstructionist right-wing politics after President Barack Obama took office still did little to advance the Democrats’ bigger agenda. Yes, Obamacare became the law of the land, but other platform issues — immigration reform, equal rights for women and minorities, and criminal justice reform — made scant headway.
Not even the election of Donald Trump in 2016 — with nearly 3 million fewer votes than Democrat Hillary Clinton — was enough to wake up the left. Democrats’ weak control of Congress after the 2020 election has yielded only stalemate, rendering Joe Biden’s presidential victory moot. Even the Capitol insurrection seems not to have moved the political needle in Democrats’ favor.
While Republicans savor their likely Roe v. Wade victory, the progressive left is doubling down on the small stuff, and therein lies the problem. They have muddled the English language with endless debate over which politically correct words to use — “homeless” or “unhoused”? — to the point that people now feel obligated to list pronoun preferences on their email signatures. Never mind the confusion of referring to a single individual as “they,” the relentless focus on Orwellian properspeak is alienating moderates and providing fuel for Republicans to mock the left mercilessly.
Hispanic voters — once a reliable voting bloc for Democrats — are being repelled by progressive insistence on the gender-neutral term “Latinx.” According to a 2021 Gallup poll, only 4% of Hispanic Americans preferred usage of “Latinx.” About 40% find the term downright offensive, Politico found.
Democrats need to ask themselves what’s really important for voters. Do Americans really want to be told how to speak, or do they want to protect abortion rights? Do moderates want to be badgered on social and political correctness, or do they want to make sure Trump stays out of the White House and that his insurrectionist followers are booted from Congress?
We suspect it’s the latter. But Republicans are banking on Democratic activists sticking with the former.
This American Opinion editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
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