The NYT gets a reality check from the elections

November 6, 2021 • 10:15 am

I haven’t yet heard a single political pundit deny that the Democrat’s “cultural agenda” hurt them badly in Tuesday’s elections. And now the Paper of Record has hustled over to the right side of history, which is a bit further Right than it was before.

Greg Mayer sent me this link yesterday with the email header, “NYT editorial board shifts sharply to center; the real left doesn’t like the fake-left progressives.” And ’tis true! It appears that the paper’s editorial stance changed radically with the elections. This alone shows that the paper hasn’t been in touch with political reality for years. But I still don’t trust them.

Click screenshot to read, and note that this is the opinion of the Editorial Board, not an individual, which gives it considerable heft as the paper’s stand.

Read for yourself, but I’ll give a few quotes:

Tuesday’s election result trend lines were a political nightmare for the Democratic Party, and no Democrat who cares about winning elections in 2022 and the presidential race in 2024 should see them as anything less.

Familiar takeaways like “wake-up call” and “warning shot” don’t do justice here because the danger of ignoring those trends is too great. What would do justice, and what is badly needed, is an honest conversation in the Democratic Party about how to return to the moderate policies and values that fueled the blue-wave victories in 2018 and won Joe Biden the presidency in 2020.

Given the stakes for the country, from urgent climate and social spending needs to the future of democracy, Americans badly need a rolling conversation today and in the coming weeks and months about how moderate voters of all affiliations can coalesce behind and guide the only party right now that shows an interest in governing and preserving democratic norms.

I don’t think the Squad is going to like this “coalition” business. But, as James Carville keeps saying, it’s what the Democrats need to do. In fact, I think the slogan below was Carville’s:

Bill Clinton’s mantra from 1992 of “it’s the economy, stupid” is rarely out of vogue, and it certainly isn’t now. But Democrats, looking left on so many priorities and so much messaging, have lost sight of what can unite the largest number of Americans. A national Democratic Party that talks up progressive policies at the expense of bipartisan ideas, and that dwells on Donald Trump at the expense of forward-looking ideas, is at risk of becoming a marginal Democratic Party appealing only to the left.

Yes, and a slice of elite Americana who truly lost sight of what can unite Americans is the fricking New York Times!

Finally, the paper dispels what may be two misconceptions about the election. First, that the passage of Biden’s two huge spending bills will make things right for our party:

Many in the president’s party point to Tuesday as proof that congressional Democrats need to stop their left-center squabbling and clock some legislative wins ASAP by passing both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a robust version of the Build Back Better plan, the larger social spending and environmental proposal. They believe this will give their candidates concrete achievements to run on next year and help re-energize their base.

But Tuesday’s results are a sign that significant parts of the electorate are feeling leery of a sharp leftward push in the party, including on priorities like Build Back Better, which have some strong provisions and some discretionary ones driving up the price tag. The concerns of more centrist Americans about a rush to spend taxpayer money, a rush to grow the government, should not be dismissed.

The second is related to the first, involving the liberal media’s constant bashing of Manchin and Sinema:

Democrats should work to implement policies to help the American people. Congress should focus on what is possible, not what would be possible if Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema and — frankly — a host of lesser-known Democratic moderates who haven’t had to vote on policies they might oppose were not in office.

Democrats agree about far more than they disagree about. But it doesn’t look that way to voters after months and months of intraparty squabbling. Time to focus on — and pass — policies with broad support. Or risk getting run out of office.

Well, I suppose the NYT could use as its excuse for its past editorial adherence to the Woke Democratic Platform something like this: “How did we know that Middle America embraces the middle of the political spectrum? After all, all our editors, writers, and editorial columnists said otherwise.”  That won’t wash, though, because it’s the business of a paper like the NYT to take the ideological temperature of America. What happened is that the extremists had the loudest voices on both sides. But, as surveys have shown repeatedly, people have been cowed from expressing centrist or contrarian political opinions in public, especially if these folks are on the liberal side but not especially woke. So this time they spoke with their ballots instead of their voices.

You can see the NYT editorial board, which approves of this piece, here. Note that woke editor Dean “Spineless” Baquet, responsible for the paper’s “faculty lounge” atmosphere, is not included on the board.

53 thoughts on “The NYT gets a reality check from the elections

  1. Those progressives that voted against the infrastructure bill probably haven’t learned much from the Virginia loss. Here’s AOC’s take:

    AOC says Democrats lost in Virginia because they ran a ‘super-moderated campaign’ that was boring to progressives

    I’d love to see the arguments that must be going on inside the NYT offices. It will be interesting to see if any of the battle becomes public. That the people they’ve driven out (Bari Weiss, etc.) seem to have done well going solo, and the reputation of the NYT has taken some dings, perhaps the bigwigs are reconsidering their recent leftwards move. If so, that’s great.

    1. “AOC says Democrats lost in Virginia because they ran a ‘super-moderated campaign’ that was boring to progressives . . . .”

      It must be a great burden to have such a low boredom threshold. Perhaps AOC should have loaned McAuliffe, et al her evening dress to wear on the campaign trail.

  2. A big problem is outside of the Democrats control, and that is that the Republicans will continue the message that Dems want the most corrosive forms of CRT taught in school, that they want open borders, and that they want to do away with the police. They will flog this message for as long as it gets any traction with centrist voters.

    1. The Dems have always weakly protested the slogans the GOP attach to them. It’s as if they believe addressing them is either beneath their dignity or they worry that complaining about them will only give them more life. It’s not an unreasonable position but with Fox News and social media amplifying these slogans, it’s probably not the way to go.

    2. Is it out of their control? All of those have been Dem policies, and I don’t see them adopting their opposites. The President and Vice-President announced a couple of weeks ago the Gender policy, which is all about intersectionality. (And what are the less corrosive forms of CRT? Teaching that Jews and Asians get to be inside the big tent, rather than being tarred as white supremacists?) The Biden Administration has completely controlled the southern border. If it wants to stop getting beat, then it can turn off the tap any time it wants. Instead, they are again going to challenge the Remain in Mexico policy. And it seems that the only reason defund the police is dying is because voters are stopping it.

      1. Teaching US history more honestly might be considered a less corrosive form of CRT. Drop the divisive “structural racism is built in” rhetoric and just teach an honest version of history. In many of their speeches calling out CRT, GOP politicians say they are in favor of honest teaching about racial history. The Dems should just call them on it.

        1. But “teaching history honestly” is *not* a form of CRT. CRT really is a particular ideology, and woke teachers are indeed pushing it in schools, and it is indeed unpopular with parents. If the Democrats don’t want to be tarred with the CRT brush then they should repudiate CRT.

          1. Agreed. All I’m saying is that the Dems need to morph the CRT-in-public-schools discussion into a teach-race-history-better discussion. The GOP’s own rhetoric, which probably doesn’t reflect their true feelings, gives the Dems an opening they should take.

        2. Was US history taught dishonestly before CRT?
          My relations who live in the USA and studied it (or their children did) don’t have this impression.
          And I am strongly against seeking “less corrosive” forms of CRT. It is hateful pseudoknowledge, and it must go in its entirety. Like we do not need to seek less corrosive forms of intelligent design.

          1. That race history has been taught poorly in the past and present is the one thing on which everyone seems to agree. I explained how teaching history better relates to CRT in other comments to which I refer you.

      2. To me, the eagerness of Democratic politicians to deny anything to do with the disastrous policies they have pushed for decades speaks of dishonesty and unscrupulousness that are maybe even worse than open and consistent support for these policies would be.

      3. Agree 100%. It is not a strong third party coming out of nowhere that pushed CRT on students and employees, swore to abandon all attempts to control trans-border migration, and empowered trans females to put the pesky cis females in their place. I remember e.g. that Biden signed pro-transgender legislation on his very first day in office. Now, there are reports that families that were separated as a result of crossing the border illegally will receive compensations higher than families of 9/11 victims.

  3. This reminds me of something I saw recently. A woman asks a man, Why do you always choose the hardest way to so something? The man replies, Why do assume I see more than one way? The trouble with any of these “this is what our/their party should do” stories is that they seem to assume that the party isn’t doing what it think is best, and that they could change like a dress-maker who sees that stripes are in and polka dots are out.

    1. Let me point out the flaw in your theory. Like all politicians in a democracy, the Dems are suppose to represent their constituents. The responses to the Virginia loss is to tell the Dem polticians that their constituents aren’t as far Left as they think they are or aren’t interested in their far left policies.

      1. You know it would be much wiser to say, the guy lost in Virginia because he was a poor candidate. Or he lost in Virginia because that is what has happened for years in Virginia. Democrat wins president, then republican wins governor. Or republican wins president then democrat wins governor. Maybe that is just too obvious for all the big brains here who have to make this a left right middle democratic debacle.

        1. He was a poor candidate. As I see it, the “left right middle democratic debacle” is more about what the election also revealed about the voters. That many swing voters were scared of their kids being taught CRT is significant even if the candidate reacted poorly. That trying to link the GOP candidate to Trump failed is significant regardless of the Dem candidate.

          1. So what is your point. Nixon lost and then he won. Generally it has more to do with voter change than candidate.

      2. It’s a fair point. It’s hard to say to what extent the party is actually Progressive. The fact that the Progressive Caucus is one-hundred strong suggests that among the people who actually run the party, it’s fairly strong. The progress of the infrastructure and reconciliation bills, as well as the reaction to the elections this week, suggest that they aren’t interested in supporting a centrist position.

        1. The progressive policies that need to be ditched are “defund the police”, CRT, and the like. No one in the Democratic party would take much issue with Reich’s list, except perhaps for Manchin and Sinema.

          1. That’s fair. But remember the CRT issue is a lie. CRT is rightly taught in law schools, but it doesn’t exist in Virginia public schools. Hence Youngkin’s despicable lie about wanting to get rid of CRT in the schools. As for “defunding” the police, I’m in favor of SOME defunding (reducing the militarization of the police), but it should be clear to all that “defunding” is a terrible word. If anything, a “reallocation of funds” would be better. Once again, blame the terrible messaging skills of the Democrats.

            1. Read our host’s very next post to learn more about whether CRT is taught in VA. The lie is to pretend it is only something that is taught in law school. Perhaps its origins can be traced there but CRT as it is currently conceived by the Woke is very much present in VA public schools. It may not be completely implemented and children may not yet be much affected but it is not for lack of trying.

            2. This is just not true, the ideology of CRT ***is*** nowadays having a huge influence on how Virginia public schools (and others around the country) teach kids. How much more evidence do you need?

              “But they’re not teaching graduate-level seminars labelled CRT to 8-yr-olds” is misdirection, of course they’re not, but they are indeed implementing CRT in their teaching.

              1. I have just read that Tony Kinnett, an Indiana public school administrator, explained on Twitter how schools in his state lied to parents about not teaching CRT to children while teaching it.
                The source was Fox News through Yahoo!News. I’ll believe more in the change of NYT when we can get such news from them, instead of Fox.

            3. Barry, I live in the Pacific NW and our young social justice warriors did and do want to dramatically reduce or eliminate police funding and shift or reallocate the funds to social workers, violence deescalators and the like. That is our version of defunding the police and our homicide rate has skyrocketed as a result of the youngsters’ support by the Seattle City Council, a group that was like a coven of lobotimized lemmings during our many months of George Floyd inspired protests and riots. And our one party dominated legislature passed about a dozen policing reform bills this last spring. The law enforcement community is up in arms about some of the bills but cops don’t carry much weight in our state with progressives in charge. Now, many voters from here in bluer than blue Western Washington have had enough of the nonsense and have actually elected a Republican to the office of Seattle City Attorney. She beat a dismantle the criminal justice system Democrat. But not by the number of votes one would hope.

        2. The three things mentioned in the tweet are not what people are worried about. Rather, it is the stupid woke stuff, wrongly categorized as leftist or progressive by some. Who was it who said that when the fascists return, they will claim to be anti-fascists? Woke ideology really goes against much of what classical liberals have accomplished in the last 60 years.

          1. I think all the politicians realize this. It is hard to believe that people who win elections want to disassemble the meritocracy, for example. The problem is that they feel the need to cater to what their constituents believe. The issue is whether it is better to cater to the Woke constituents or the Moderate ones. The former are loud but the latter are much more numerous.

  4. I’m glad that this editorial credited the Dem takeover of the House in 2018 to the moderates and not the Squad, who have acted like that victory was all about them. Indeed, as Paul’s reference above shows, AOC has learned very little these past three years and is still too big for her britches.

    1. Just a historical note but the first progressive liberal and the most famous was probably Alexander Hamilton. It may not be what they called it back then – just another damn Federalist. But he was and even with all his faults he ran circles around Jefferson and Madison, neither one could hardly spell financial economics. They were yesterdays republican party.

    2. You nailed it. AOC is too big for her britches! She and the other progressives seem to suffer from the Woke disease of artificial self-confidence. The Dem takeover of the house in 2018 is part of it but they also seem to think they are on the right side of morality and history and aren’t willing to consider otherwise. Perhaps it will help that the leader of the Progressive Caucus voted for the infrastructure bill.

  5. Frankly, I’d like to see Biden as the Second Coming of FDR, but that ain’t gonna happen, unfortunately. He’ll end up being FDR Lite. I’ll take it.

      1. Biden is, surprisingly, trying to be like FDR. I’m almost certain that he’s said this, but I’m not going to look for the remark. At the very least, Biden *has* moved to the left, which is a great. I’m tired of all this “moderate” BS talk (“center left” also annoys me). In the meantime, there’s a New York article called “Joe Biden’s FDR Dream Hits the Rocks.” It might be a subscriber-only piece:

  6. I don’t believe that the progressives will become “unwoke” and change much

    If you read McWhorter’s fantastic book, “Woke Racism”, it’s clear that what you have is a religion expressing itself via politics.

    To change or compromise is to blaspheme.

    1. True but it is worthwhile remembering that the Progressive Caucus is still comprised of politicians. Their leader, Jayapal, did vote for the infrastructure bill. Although they are the progressive side of the party, it doesn’t mean they are 100% dedicated to the Woke platform. Most probably still put power and reelection first.

  7. In a purely rational world, people’s electoral choices would be based on rational economic and foreign policy considerations. But, despite the efforts of Pinker, rationality is not the basis for an often decisive slice of the electorate. Traditionally, political conflict has been waged on differing visions of how the country should be economically structured, although punctuated at various times by cultural and foreign policy issues. Starting around 1968, more and more cultural issues have been the crucial ones in deciding elections. Perhaps around 1996 (Bill Clinton’s second election), the argument can be made that for the last time economic issues tilted the election.

    Traditionally, Democrats have believed that stressing economic issues is the key to electoral success. Many still believe that today. Sometimes, the analysis is correct. It certainly worked for FDR and perhaps Bill Clinton in 1992. But, overall and certainly today, Democrats have underestimated cultural anxiety where fear in a crucial slice of the electorate is sufficient to swing elections. Examples of this are the Red Scare of the early 1950s, Nixon’s southern strategy, and today’s brouhaha over CRT. In other worlds, there are those people that will sacrifice their economic benefit to protect their cultural values they consider under attack. The Republicans have understood this; Democrats have not. To win elections, the quality of messaging is very important. The Republicans have been masters of messaging; the Democrats failures. The Republican task has been relatively simple: stoke fear in those that think their way of life is under attack, whether the issues be race, crime, religious freedom or immigration.

    While the passage of Biden’s economic agenda, Build Back Better, will not hurt the Democratic Party and is necessary for the country, it will be largely ineffective winning back those voters that cast their ballots on cultural issues, even at the cost of their economic welfare. In contrast to the Republicans, the Democratic task is much difficult: convince the crucial voters that the Party doesn’t represent a cultural threat and that the economic program will benefit them. It is a necessity that they do this to win more close elections. At the same time, the Party cannot alienate its far left component, which is also necessary for victory. In its efforts to win over these very differing factions at the same time, the Party has so far failed to find a winning formula.

  8. Unfortunately it appears the NY Times has forgotten, we got plenty of the woke crap from-the NY Times itself. Not least. The 1619 historical revisionism.
    Neither is their hypocrisy lost on anyone, as they tried to paint Glenn Youngkin pejoratively as “culture warrior”-apparently being culture warrior is good for NY Times and bad for everyone else.

  9. Last night’s House vote on the infrastructure bill revealed some peculiar patterns. Although the bill had been “bipartisan” in the Senate, 200 out of 213 Republicans vote against it. These Republican opponents of infrastructure were joined by Ms. Occasio-Cortes and 5 like-minded Democratic Representatives. The votes of these 6 squadristi may have reflected arcane procedural issues; or maybe they thought that improved roads and bridges in the USA would help US exports to reach Israel, possibly including parts for the Iron Dome missile defense against sanctified rocket fire from Gaza.

    Democratic candidates should not find it difficult to neutralize Republican scare-mongering by making clear statements on seemingly “cultural” issues. They could state outright that border control is a necessary function of any government; that vandals and thieves should be prosecuted, even if they claim to be “Progressive” or poor; that police are not by definition the enemy of society; and that “liberated mathematics” and similar educrat inventions are bullshit. Some Dems at the local level are starting to head in this direction. In the near future, we will see how many, and with what effect.

    1. The Republicans were not really against infrastructure so much as against Biden and the Democrats. They realize correctly but cynically that the Dems are pretty much guaranteed to do poorly in coming elections if they can’t pass anything even if the cause is pure obstruction from their side. Unfortunately, voters don’t care much (or know much) about process.

      The Dems who voted against it were not against infrastructure either but were insisting that the bill be voted on together with the “social infrastructure” bill, something that was never going to happen. I guess they doubt it will pass if considered by itself. They may be right.

      1. “The Dems who voted against it were not against infrastructure either but…” Or, in short, they voted against something they are for because another bill containing other provisions was not being voted on simultaneously. [The simultaneous consideration of two different bills would no doubt be applauded as the last word in “intersectionality”.] The six Dems in question were evidently relying for their vote calculations on liberated Mathematics

        1. In their minds they were standing on principle. I have no idea what they expected to happen. Perhaps they didn’t count on enough Republicans voting for it. Perhaps this was the best outcome since it has a chance of teaching them a lesson.

          1. They were almost certainly voting on principle, whether you like that principle or not, because they knew that Pelosi would NEVER allow a vote to come to the floor unless she was sure that it would go her way.

  10. Pew poll, September:
    A proposed reconciliation package contains about $3.5 trillion in funding over the next ten years for universal pre-K education, expanding Medicare, reducing carbon emissions, and other projects. From what you’ve seen and heard, do you favor or oppose this package?

    Respondents: 49% favor, 25% oppose, 26% unsure
    Source (pg. 7)

    There are plenty of progressive policies that Democrats pursue that are viewed favorably by voters. Just not the woke religion.

    In other words, what Robert Reich said (as linked-to above by Barry Lyons).

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