Can Jason Carter Win The Middle?

In the AJC, Greg Bluestein covered a speech by former State Senator Jason Carter, who once ran for Governor and may do so again, if you take the tenor of his remarks as sincere.

“The same way Romney was wrong to write off 47 percent of the vote, Hillary Clinton was wrong to write off the deplorables,” [Carter] said, invoking Clinton’s off-the-cuff jab at Trump backers.

“It’s something we can’t abide by, especially because we’re a party that’s built on inclusion. We can’t write off whole swathes of the geography of the state.”

That has a good mouthfeel, to steal a word made up by pretentious wine critics. Any successful political enterprise needs to be inclusive, and the Democratic party just hasn’t looked inclusive for a while. Their messaging has focused on the disenfranchised at the expense of the mainstream. While it may make some folks feel good to wail about a “hetero-orthodox- patriarchy” there’s a whole lot of straight males out there. If there’s a white power structure that governs society, the average Trump voter in Banks county probably doesn’t notice it. 

It’s not that Democrats’ messaging has been wrong. It’s been ineffective because it’s been presented as a strictly binary choice. Take same-sex marriage as just one example, and imagine being told that you’re an ignorant, homophobic bigot if you don’t support it. You’re not likely to support the folks telling you that. Indeed, you might even develop an antipathy toward them, one that might become deep-seated and habitual. If you feel you’ve been wrongly assigned that label, you might even take a perverse pride and poke your critics in the eye by voting for a former reality show star for President.

Those voters weren’t literally disenfranchised, but they did get tired of being treated that way.

Jason Carter seems to think that voters shouldn’t have to pick a side, and seeks to “create a lot of room in the middle.” That’s a tall order, but it’s a bolder and better strategy than just waiting for white voters to die.

None of the half-dozen or so Republican candidates angling to become Georgia’s governor in 2018 is likely to aim for the middle -they have a primary to win first, and Republican primary voters don’t usually see moderation as a virtue. And while Carter would like face a primary of his own -House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams is seen as a potential candidate- he would likely have his strategy of inclusion all to himself.

How his message is received -by members of his own party- will be worth watching.


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