Daily Kos publisher and Vox Media co-founder Markos “Kos” Moulitsas, an influential voice in liberal politics, published a blog post (Daily Kos, 12/12/16) that captures just how terribly leading Democratic pundits are taking Hillary Clinton’s unexpected defeat. In the wake of this loss, some of the more hardcore Clinton partisans have chosen, in lieu of self-examination and internal criticism, to simply lash out at the voters they failed to win over.
With the punitive glee of a medieval executioner, Moulitsas proclaimed: “Be Happy for Coal Miners Losing Their Health Insurance. They’re Getting Exactly What They Voted For”:
For example, why should we weep for the retired coal miners who will now lose their health insurance thanks to the GOP majority—despite the best efforts of coal-state Democrats to change the outcome?
Yes, this will be a terrible outcome for a group of people who have really drawn a shitty lot in life. But how sorry should we be for this crowd? Coal country swung hard for Donald Trump, winning 70 to 80 percent of the vote in some of these counties.
So a major voice in liberal media is now not only morally justifying millions of working people losing their health insurance, but actually insisting we be “happy” for it? Moulitsas went on to evoke a classic right-wing dictum about people getting the democracy they deserve:
Don’t weep for these coal miners, now abandoned by their GOP patrons. They are getting exactly the government that they voted for. Democrats can no longer offer unrequited love and cover for them. And isn’t this what democracy is all about? They won the election! This is what they wanted!
Missing from this equation is that US democracy, and working people’s relationship to it, are not pristine and incorruptible. The influence of money in politics, especially post–Citizens United, is tremendous. As The Intercept’s Lee Fang warned nine months before the election, the billionaire Koch brothers have spent years working from the grassroots up to turn the Rust Belt red.
Billionaire-backed Rust Belt Republican governors, as The Atlantic notes, worked for decades to undermine the Democratic Party’s primary voter turnout mechanism—unions. In addition to their evergreen exploitation of white racism, billionaire-backed Fox News fed voters misleading stories about Clinton wanting to “put coal miners out of work.” (Clinton announcing at a West Virginia town meeting, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” didn’t help.)
Instead of combating or even addressing the economic and media forces that boost Republican prospects in places like West Virginia, Moulitsas chooses instead to wish disease and death on those easily susceptible to them. Of course, voters are not blameless, but material, measurable forces led to Donald Trump’s victory, and skating past those in favor of moralistic voter-shaming is neither useful nor compassionate. Those most responsible for Trump—namely, the wealthy backers of the GOP and their cynical media apparatus—won’t be losing their health insurance anytime soon.