In the popular imagination, politicians are calculating crowd-pleasers: poll-tested and focus-grouped to death, delivering messages honed to win an election. In fact, they are just people, susceptible to the same biases as everyone else. Most of what they know about public policy and voters they learn from the advisers who surround them and the donors who pay to be near them. Most of their judgments about popular opinion reflect the views of their friends.
As US society has stratified, the highly educated and compensated professionals who dominate politics can rise through the system while interacting only with people like themselves. As a result, parties have unmoored from working families’ priorities and become preoccupied instead with the passions and bugbears of elites in universities and on Wall Street.
Progressive political analyst Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, laments that advocates of identity politics “in place of promoting universal rights and principles now police others on the left to uncritically embrace this . . . approach, insist on an arcane vocabulary for speaking about these purportedly oppressed groups.”
This yields absurd results, such as US Senator Elizabeth Warren insisting on saying “Latinx” rather than “Latino” during her presidential run, a term that fewer than 1-in-4 Latinos say they’ve heard of.
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