Why Can't Progressives Be More Like Conservatives? Chapter 1,245
Wow, don't they ever get tired of writing this article?
An influential analysis of national polling data by Professors Ellis and Stimson suggests that the most effective candidate in a national election would combine the most popular feature of the Democratic Party, progressive economic policies, with the most popular feature of the Republican Party: the invocation of conservative ideology and values like patriotism, family and the “American dream...”
To investigate these questions we conducted two experiments, one using a nationally representative sample of Americans, in which we looked at Americans’ support for “Scott Miller,” a hypothetical 2020 Democratic nominee. The participants in our studies were presented with excerpts from Scott Miller’s speeches — but we systematically varied the content of the speeches to analyze the effects of policy platform and symbolic politics.
We found that the most effective Democratic candidate would speak in terms of conservative values while proposing progressive economic policies — with some of our evidence suggesting that endorsing highly progressive policies would be best.
This is so misbegotten that it doesn't even rise to the level of being wrong. For starters, there's a whopping false dichotomy on display.
"Patriotism, family and the 'American dream' are not conservative ideology or values. I've not met a single American liberal who wasn't proud that s/he was a citizen of a country that produced or welcomed geniuses Coltrane, Toni Morrison, Einstein, Feynman, Robert Johnson, Lincoln, Dickinson, Glass, and (make up your own list). I have yet to meet any liberal who didn't, in some way, both adore his/her family and express it. As for the American Dream... to progress in your life... that is an explicitly liberal dream (although tragically, honored more in the breach). As Trump and every other conservative alive makes clear every day, they value inherited wealth and believe that the wealthy deserve to be treated with kid gloves.
But they make a worse mistake: A canned rhetorical strategy is as appetizing as canned green beans.
What a liberal or progressive has to do is simple: Speak directly, clearly, intelligently, passionately, and authentically about the carefully thought-through programs that are important to her. What she also has to do is to ground her programs in a well-articulated expression of liberal (i.e., American) values.
I wish I knew why this was so hard for nearly every Democratic politician out there. Maybe it's because they really think that listening to simplistic ideas like blending conservative and progressive messages is a good strategy.