Could Cancel Culture Hurt the Democrats?
Sure it could. At the current moment, Trump is so detested that his ability to exploit excesses associated with this culture is limited. But greater harm is certainly possible in the future, both in this election season and beyond. Amy Walter has the following in one of her recent columns:
“it’s hard to be an effective messenger when just 41 percent of Americans approve the job you are doing as president and just over a third think you are doing a good job handling racial issues.
Even so, warns one GOP strategist I spoke with this week, there is real concern among suburban voters about where this so-called ‘cancel culture’ or what we called in the old-days, PCism, is headed.
This strategist, who has been deeply involved in both quantitative and qualitative work with suburban voters across the country, acknowledged that these voters are not interested in preserving Confederate statues or flags. They are sympathetic to Black Lives Matter and supportive of the protests against police violence.
But, this person points out, they are also wary of how far this reckoning will go. Over the last week or so, they’ve raised the question of “where does it end?” They cringe at reports of statues of Christopher Columbus being tossed into a lake and are upset to read of another public figure fired for a controversial Facebook post that they put up years ago.
However, the challenge for Trump in being able to exploit these concerns is that these voters “are mostly done with him” and think that “he makes everything worse.” As a messenger, this person said, Trump has “zero credibility” with these suburbanites.
In the era of Trump, Democrats have become more and more reliant on suburban voters. But, as one Democratic strategist wondered aloud the other day: are Democrats simply renting them until Trump is no longer in office? This GOP strategist argues that one way to lose them is to assume that they want to move as far on social, racial and cultural reckoning, as many within the Democratic Party and/or the left would like to go.
And, this worry of an ‘overcorrection’ of Trump-ism, isn’t happening only in suburban living rooms and kitchens. Earlier this week, more than 150 prominent artists and public thinkers signed onto a letter titled “A Letter On Justice and Open Debate,” that ran in Harper’s. This letter mirrored what the GOP strategist told me were “simmering” concerns from suburbanites: worries about public shaming and retribution for expressing opposing or non-PC views.”
So, be worried. There are a large number of voters who are currently on the Democratic train who will be tempted to get off in the future if Democrats do not clearly dissociate themselves from the movement’s excesses. Dislike of Trump can only go so far in keeping Democratic voters Democratic.