Above: totally receptive to left-wing political messaging!
You will not be surprised to know there is a faction of the left that shares the conviction of many mainstream reporters that only Democrats have any agency or causal impact on American politics:
Even when zero Democrats vote for a bill, they get dunked on for not voting against it harder. https://t.co/UJkLLSvHJG
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) December 2, 2017
One quibble with Dave is that this isn’t so much “dunking” on the Dems as “Kris Russelling” on the Dems:
Anyway, any version of this argument is just howlingly, baldly stupid. The idea that more left-wing messaging could have caused any Republican senator not to vote for policy objectives that define the party is insane. The idea that there are a non-trivial number of voters in, say, Wisconsin, with a preference order of DSA member>Johnson>Feingold is insane. Blaming the Dems for the passage of a bill zero Democratic members voted for and generated substantial harsh criticism even from the center if the party is insane. And to pre-empt the rote response, it’s not “punching left” to point this out. “There was One Magic Trick Dems could have used to stop this bill but they Didn’t. Even. Try.” isn’t a “left” argument. It’s just a stupid argument. And arguing that we need to split the party that provided 48 nay and zero yea votes, with no potential consequences but leading to more members of the party that provided 51 yeas, just compounds the stupidity.
It would be one thing if the bill was popular, but it’s not. The bill is massively unpopular, and Trump is massively unpopular. Republicans aren’t messaging geniuses and they haven’t persuaded people the bill is good. They’re voting for it because they want to do it and they have the votes. It’s ridiculous to argue that better messaging could have stopped them.
This kind of argument is also an excellent example of why people obsessed with messaging and political rhetoric tend to provide the best illustration of why they’re massively overrated:
I mean dude come on this took me 15 seconds pic.twitter.com/oyj6Cul5R2
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_Wonkblog) December 3, 2017
If your political identity primarily consists of hating the Democratic Party, nothing Democratic public officials say or do is going to change your mind. Dems uniformly vote against a tax cut bill, repeatedly attacking it with moralistic rhetoric? Doesn’t matter — you can just cherrypick some Dems pointing out that the bill was also poorly drafted and argue they’re not doing what they’re doing. If the Dem leadership comes out in favor of 20 things you said were priorities as recently as 2016, you can cherrypick the minor thing you don’t like and argue that it’s perennially 1996 and the Democratic Party still consists mostly of neoliberals. It just doesn’t matter very much.