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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LoyaltyIsMyHonorAndrew C. PopexdogMattMD_actualBenevolus Recent comment authors
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Robbie
Robbie

For the record, if you’re anti-marriage equality, yes, you’re a homophobic bigot, no matter which party you’re from or how you choose to justify it. Either you believe gay folks deserve the same rights as you or you don’t. That one really is a binary choice.

And, no, folks didn’t vote for Trump simply because someone pointed out their homophobia and bigotry.

LoyaltyIsMyHonor
LoyaltyIsMyHonor

Great rant! You should bring this up at your local Mosque and let us all know how things turn out.

David C
David C

“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. ”

Perhaps not in Georgia. But a party that’s won the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 elections is comfortably within the mainstream of 21st Century America.

augusta52
augusta52

The Democrats used to perform well in rural Georgia…and then came Roy Barnes. And things haven’t been the same since. Unless the party can improve its showing in the “other Georgia” (yes, where people “cling to their religion”), it may be after 2020 before a Democrat wins statewide again…basically involves waiting for metro Atlanta to turn overwhelmingly blue.

David C
David C

That’s more or less true. Though if you had a Clinton ’16 performance in the Atlanta area and an Obama ’08 performance in the rest of the state, Republicans would only have a lead of a little over 2% statewide. The thing there is that Dems need better rural black turnout to keep that out of state margin down. That being said: The non-Atlanta percentage of the vote keeps shrinking. In 1992 it was 47% of the state, now it’s under 40%. (It’s grown in raw terms by 600,000 during that time, but the Atlanta metro’s vote doubled in size).… Read more »

augusta52
augusta52

Dave, Gwinnett is more likely to turn heavily blue in near future than Cobb—I think a lot of the Trump win in Cobb was due to moderates dissatisfied with Trump (especially in ‘Country-club” East Cobb), while in Gwinnett it was probably more the combination of defections and demographic change. 20 years ago, the only solidly D part of Gwinnett was along I-85 and Peachtree Industrial in northwestern Gwinnett, but today that belt includes almost all of Gwinnett south of Hwy 78 and a lot of the Lawrenceville area. Tom Price’s district saw its share of ticket-splitting, arguably the most moderate… Read more »

David C
David C

Oh, I agree on alot of this. I think Gwinnett, because of demographics, is more likely to go hard blue than Cobb: I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s say, 55-45 in four years. while Cobb is 50-50ish. Onthe ticket splitting re: Price: If Rubio or Kasich was the nominee, I suspect that they would have had similar margins there to Romney or McCain. And if Trump had lost, I think people would look at it as a fluke, and whoever was the 2020 nominee would be there with similar margins (give or take demographic migration and the like). But the… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Sonny Perdue switched party ID in 1998, the same year Barnes won the governor’s race. However, the shift of rural voters from Democrat to Republican was well underway at that point, having gone heavily for Reagan in ’84 and Bush in ’88. In 1992, Clinton won Georgia and the returns outside of the metro area were mixed. In 1996, it was also pretty “patchy” as the state went for Dole (in a national landslide for Clinton). This was largely the result of Clinton’s center-left policies being a departure from traditional liberals like Mondale and Dukakis. Obviously, a lot of statewide… Read more »

MattMD_actual
MattMD_actual

I disagree with some arbitrary HOPE income cap. It needs to be graduated after a certain income. We’re talking about 10K/year, that isn’t a trivial amount to most citizens. Say there is a cap at 90K and I made 88K; I think that would be an issue. As far as taxing the rich folks in the northern part of Fulton and even in DeKalb, how has that worked out so far? Those property taxes are pretty high now, how much is enough? You can’t fix broken homes and areas of Atlanta where the prevailing culture simply doesn’t value education with… Read more »

Benevolus
Benevolus

Since there are only two viable parties at the moment, yes it is a binary choice. To use your terminology, you are either pro-ignorant, homophobic bigotry or anti-ignorant, homophobic bigotry.

MattMD_actual
MattMD_actual

I don’t understand bringing up same-sex marriage with respect to Trump voters. That issue is over a decade old from being on anyone’s political radar and has since been resolved by the Supreme Court.

xdog
xdog

Agreed. It would be like bringing up abortion.