Progressive Twitter extremists offer GOP an opportunity

Progressive Twitter extremists offer GOP an opportunity
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In a world soaked in content, it is easy to overlook even the front page of our nation’s most prominent newspaper. This is especially true for conservatives, as the leftward tilt of the New York Times guarantees a tension headache.

But recently the Times published a cover story that nobody in politics — conservative or liberal — should ignore. Extensive data exploring the “Hidden Tribes of American politics reveals the most consequential opportunity of our political era: the monumental rift between the one third of Democrats who post regularly online — who happen to drive the party’s agenda, mainstream media coverage, and its 2020 candidates — and the vastly more populous but silent, unplugged Democrats.

The data show that online Democrats are significantly whiter, richer, more educated, and more fixated on cultural shibboleths than those who remain unplugged. And while they speak loudly, they carry very few voters, “outnumbered, roughly 2 to 1, by the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group” who neither flood their friends’ newsfeeds with political content nor devour the daily political outrage by compulsion.

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From “abolish ICE,” to “gender is a myth,” from “disarm the police,” to “believe ALL women,” the totems of this small slice of the electorate dominates any Democratic agenda on bread-and-butter issues like healthcare or the economy.

Overrepresented among our media and cultural elite, the online Democrats “often engage with political journalists and can have a powerful effect” at driving coverage, causing politiciansbrands, and media publications alike to issue inane statements that make sense only to this small slice of the country.

At their behest, the Democratic Party and its standard-bearers have rushed to embrace socialism, the Green New Deal and a centrally planned healthcare system. Meanwhile, the majority of the offline Democrats (53 percent) identify themselves as moderate or conservative, view political correctness as a problem (70 percent), and “would rather see the party become more moderate than move leftward.”

Spot the difference?

It’s a discrepancy that amounts to tens of millions of votes. But how can the GOP reach this silent majority of offline Democrats, as well as the Independent voters who are just as ill-served by the new Democratic Party?

First, conservatives should step back and recognize that being mauled by the Twitter mob amounts to an attack by a paper tiger. The Twitter pile-on (what they call “getting ratio’d”) is an outgrowth of the anger and radicalism of the online Democratic mob, which does not reflect a critical mass of voters. Even the most viral tweet rarely exceeds a few hundred thousand engagements, dwarfed by the 138 million votes cast in 2016.

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Being the target of a Twitter mob for recognizing that a policy of open borders is both an inherently unsafe and untenable position, or that biologically male and female athletes should compete and be judged separately, or that reparations for slavery would be both impossibly complicated and immeasurably patronizing to black Americans, or any such common sense opinion, does not mean the positions you’re advocating are out of step with most Americans.

Just the opposite: If the online mob is as illusory as the voting statistics show it to be, conservatives should relish the opportunity to elicit the dumbest and most far-fetched opinions from the online Democrats, and then educate regular voters on their extremism.

The GOP should weight every possible issue that separates the online Democrats from everybody else, and find out where their party leaders — mostly captive to the online base — line up.

This approach can only make headway with disenchanted voters if it is paired with a solutions-based agenda that addresses the real needs of the offline Democrats: health care, environmental issues, wages. And it would require the GOP, and the president in particular, to tamp down the irrelevant cultural debates (i.e., Trump vs. Lebron).

Recognize and exploit the rift between the Twitter Dems and the rest of America, and the GOP will reap the electoral rewards.

Even better, once leading Democrats confront the fact that their radical wing espouses wildly unpopular ideas in a wildly alienating manner, they might curb their worst impulses and stop kowtowing to the extreme left. This would restore some sanity to American politics — a worthy promise, no matter where you stand.

Albert Eisenberg is a Philadelphia-based political consultant who works on LGBT and urban issues from the right. He formerly served as communications director for the Philadelphia Republican Party and director of social media for the Young Republicans National Federation. Follow him on Twitter @Albydelphia