NY Times Writes Democrats' Midterms Obit, Apparently Hasn't Read NY Times Since Election Night
The New York Times is in many ways your typical godless commie rag, as evidenced by its "peas in guacamole" recipes, but in all the ways that actually matter, like its political coverage, it enjoys regularly knocking Democrats like the stereotypical sitcom mother-in-law who will always find something to criticize about her son's wife.
Saturday, Utah's Mia Love officially left for that separate-but-equal black Republican rest home in the sky. This brought Democratic gains in the House to 39 seats. Also on Saturday, the Times ran the latest in its "Democrats in disarray" series that no one demanded. The Twitter headline alone is such potent stupidity you shouldn't operate heavy machinery after reading it: "After painful losses, Democrats in the South face a dilemma: Appeals to progressives cost them the rural white voters who often decide elections."
Painful losses? Really? This is like calling my failed audition for Killmonger in Black Panther a "painful loss." I got to say "Hey, Auntie" to Angela Bassett before security showed up. Overall, I consider it a win. Yes, Stacey Abrams "lost" the governor's race in Georgia, and Beto O'Rourke and Andrew Gillum failed to win in Texas and Florida, where voter suppression was not as overt and repulsive as in the peach state. (Hey, geniuses at the Times, maybe you should write about that!) But Abrams and O'Rourke also performed better than any Democrat had in decades. Hell, in Texas, Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson regularly murdered her opponents for almost two decades. Democrats stopped considering these Senate races elections and treated them more like Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery." They were begging not to run: "Please don't make me! I won't break 40 percent. I have kids!"
I think it's encouraging that we didn't have statewide races in Georgia or Texas that were called as soon as the polls closed or even in the middle of day ("everyone left could vote for the other guy and it still wouldn't matter at this point -- stay home"). But the Times ain't having it. Writer Jonathan Martin points out that while Abrams, O'Rourke, and Gillum "may have electrified black and progressive white voters," it didn't mean a damn thing to the banjo-picking, cross-burning, Donald Trump-loving electorate: "[I]n rural county after rural county, this trio of next-generation Democrats performed worse than President Barack Obama did in 2012."
Wait, can the Times count? Because even if Obama did better in Trump country than "Democrats: The Next Generation," he still lost Georgia and Texas by larger margins than Abrams and O'Rourke. That's even when Sarah Palin was on the ticket. Obama did win Florida twice, but Gillum's loss there is more likely attributed to his underperforming Hillary Clinton among Hispanic voters.
More ominous for Democrats was that the deep losses this year among rural and some exurban whites were not just confined to Southern states where they nominated unabashed progressives with hopes of transforming the midterm electorate. They lost four Senate seats, as well as governor's races in states like Iowa and Ohio, with more conventional candidates whose strength in cities and upper-income suburbs was not enough to overcome their deficits in less densely populated areas.
I'm gonna have to disagree with
Pvt. Hudson at the Times here. Yes, Democrats lost four Senate seats, but we also flipped two in Nevada and Arizona (you know, the state that's in Arizona). We also retired Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, which would warrant a New Orleans funeral parade all on its own. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is the next governor of Michigan, and her running mate Garlin Gilchrist will be the state's first black lieutenant governor. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf handily won re-election. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are all states Hillary Clinton narrowly lost in 2016 and ones that
the eventual Democratic nominee Kamala Harris will need to flip back to blue in 2020. Those are good signs for removing Putin's Russian nesting doll from the White House, but the Times seems to only look at election results with its right eye open.
So, instead of discussing these major rust and sunbelt victories, the Times is ragging on Democrats for their potential loss of a sure thing in Mississippi. Yeah, you read that right. Democrat Mike Espy, who's black, forced incumbent Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith into a runoff on Tuesday, and as of this writing, his home hasn't even been firebombed. He's beating all expectations. Yet the Times opens its hit piece with an examination of Espy's "Sophie's choice" over whether to "confront" Hyde-Smith about her repulsive lynching comments or take a "milder approach to avoid alienating the conservative-leaning white voters who will most likely decide the election."
He chose the latter.
"The world knows what she said, the world knows that those comments were harmful and hurtful," Mr. Espy said afterward, sounding not entirely convinced.
Great, the Times is mind-reading now. Is the implication that Espy himself doesn't really believe the world knows lynching comments are "harmful and hurtful" or that the world is generally speaking pro-lynching, or that he himself loves a good public hanging? The Times goes out of its way to make a black candidate look weak on opposing racism. That and potato salad are two of our stronger points.
"Conservative-leaning white voters" aren't going to decide the election, either. We all know they're voting for Senator Skeletor. Doug Jones won the Senate race in Alabama because black voters came out in force for him. If the Times believes that Jones's victory was only because he's a white moderate, they should recall that the last Democrat to run for governor, Jason Carter, was not just a moderate but literally Jimmy Carter's grandson. He lost to Nathan Deal by almost eight points. Abrams's GOTV efforts arguably also helped Lucy McBath flip a seat once held by Newt Gingrich. McBath openly campaigned on gun control in a state where conventional wisdom demands candidates wave rifles around at town halls.
Democrats have repaired wounds from 2016 and are slowly but steadily improving their standing in the South. If the Times is too obsessed with the "white working class" to see this, they should get out of political writing and focus on their pea guacamole.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."