Why liberals lose

Juan Cole, one of our most perspicuous observers on the Middle East, ran a blog post the other day that illustrates why conservatives have such a strong hold on certain segments of our society. The item featured a map showing average life expectancy by state, and Prof. Cole’s summary was:

With the exception of Utah, there is a pretty strong overlap between lower life expectancy and deep hostility to the Affordable Care Act. Those who need it most are most opposed to it.

Fair enough. But why? Although one can sympathize with Cole’s frustration, his conclusion illustrates why liberals are struggling so hard:

Know what that is called? Fatal stupidity.

So long as liberals have that attitude, they will feed the very movement they so righteously denounce. It wasn’t that long ago, for example, that Rick Santorum was making a credible run at the GOP nomination by shouting at his audiences:

They think we’re stupid!

Boyd suggested four elements of an effective grand strategy. You can look them up at Patterns 139.  The second is:

Pump up our resolve, drain away adversary resolve, and attract the uncommitted;

Politics is all about grand strategy, about attracting the uncommitted, particularly the swing voters who hold the key to most elections. Telling yourself — that is, locking in your orientation — that they don’t agree with you because they’re stupid will probably not produce effective campaigns.

[Note: I’m not making any statement about the ACA. I’ve been on government-sponsored, single-payer health programs (TRICARE and Medicare) for a while, and they seem to work for me. But, of course, the ACA is not a single-payer program.]

5 thoughts on “Why liberals lose

  1. A very good point, but it’s a point that is often made by conservative pundits. The very definition of “the liberal elite” includes it.

    The problem is that social welfare programs can so neatly be aligned with the idea of elitism. To say that the government should step in and help you is to say that you are too stupid to help yourself: at least, this is the linkage that conservative strategists have used.

    So, it’s a matter of footprints, if you want to think of it in terms of the “hearts and minds” version of COIN.

    I had made a much longer comment here, but realized my comment was stretching the boundaries of propriety, so I deleted it.

    • Thanks — long comments interrupt the sense of conversation, which is what the comment section is for.

      If you have a longer argument to make, contact me and I’d be happy to consider it for a post.

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