By Dave Andrusko
Veteran political analyst Thomas B. Edsall is hardly one of us. But over the decades I have often learned a great deal from him, first when he was a national political reporter for 25 years for the Washington Post and more recently from his weekly columns for the New York Times on “politics, demographics and inequality.”
Today’s column –“If Trump Country Soars, Will the President Glide to a Second Term?”–will drive 99.9% of his readership to distraction, if not to setting their hair on fire.
Here’s his lead paragraphs which, good reporter that Edsall is, deftly summarizes his conclusion:
In small but politically significant ways, the economy under President Trump has favored regions and constituencies that supported him in 2016. These are the men and women whom Trump called forgotten Americans.
The emerging pattern of economic growth reverses a trend that held from the 2008 recession to 2016, in which Democratic-leaning states and counties far outpaced Republican-leaning sections of the country.
Now, under a Republican administration, job growth rates in Trump country are rising faster than they are in Democratic America. As the national unemployment rate hovers at just below 4 percent, far more red states than blue states are setting records for low levels of joblessness.
“Everyone’s accelerated, but Trump counties have gone from lagging Clinton counties to seeing faster job growth,” Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings wrote by email. “Redder, smaller, more rural communities really are ‘winning’ a little more. So long as there’s no recession, that may shape the atmosphere surrounding the 2020 election.”
Hold that thought for a second.
In 2014 Edsall wrote a prescient piece that was headlined, “Who Will Save the Democratic Party From Itself?”
He was exploring the discontent that was already festering over the overwhelming likelihood that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Party’s party presidential nominee. Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb ran a quixotic campaign that went nowhere.
However, as Edsall explained,
Webb is one answer to the weaknesses of today’s center-left, the so-called “upstairs-downstairs” coalition described by Joel Kotkin, presidential fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University. Kotkin argues in his recently published book, “The New Class Conflict,” that the Democratic Party has been taken over by what he calls “gentry liberals,” an elite that has undermined the historic purpose of the Democratic Party.
If you’ve kept up at all, you know the party is on the brink of a civil war between “gentry liberals” and an influx of new members of Congress who are genuinely radical (and proudly so). As the Washington Post (no less) wrote on Monday, “The far left’s frustration with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on the rise.”
Edsall ends with an attack on Trump that fits right in with the New York Times’ hate-filled rhetoric. It’s as if the only way he can see for his party to win in the face of the Democrats’ impending civil war + good economic times across the board but especially in Trump country helps is to bash Trump unmercifully.
That is not a strategy. That is desperation.
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