Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Opinion | Advice for the Democrats After the Midterms

To the Editor:

Re “Forget Excuses. What Counts Is Winning Seats” (column, Nov. 8):

I must respectfully disagree with Nicholas Kristof’s takeaway observations about Tuesday’s election.

Watching the returns, I was emotional and disappointed about Democratic losses in the Senate and in state races. But by the morning, perspective had returned.

Change is incremental and takes hard work. Grass-roots Democrats deeply tied to their communities put in that hard work and focused on the issues that mattered to their constituents: health care, pre-existing conditions and jobs. The Democratic candidates were disciplined and on message.

The midterm elections are a first step in a long effort to recapture our better angels. There is every indication that Nancy Pelosi, perhaps the next speaker, understands profoundly that as much as many of us may long to counterattack, success will be built on attention to the issues that matter to the electorate.

Gridlock is certain, and polarization is not going to disappear overnight. But this does not diminish the accomplishments of the Democrats. There will be pushback against President Trump, as there should be.

Mr. Kristof isn’t wrong about where Democrats’ emphasis should lie; he just seems to have overlooked the fact that the candidates did exactly what he thinks that they should have.

Tereze Gluck
New York

To the Editor:

I agree with Nicholas Kristof that fulminating and threats from Democrats will be counterproductive in winning more elections. Where I find fault with his analysis is the claim that Democrats live in an elitist blue bubble and so misunderstand and disrespect voters in red states.

My friends, colleagues and family are all trying to do useful work and lead ethical lives, not sitting around sipping chardonnay at cocktail parties laughing at the real people in the imaginary heartland. That is a conservative version of political correctness that Republicans have been demagoguing for years.

Mr. Kristof would seem to be a good choice as someone who could open an honest discussion about what people in the red-state bubble don’t understand about those in the blue.

Wherever we are, how do we live the lives that we do, and what are our biases and assumptions? Let me volunteer for that conversation.

Paul Zelevansky
New York

To the Editor:

Nicholas Kristof’s plea to Democrats to “engage in less fist-waving and more listening” is heartening but needs more direction.

I attended a Trump rally on Halloween, not because I agree with the rhetoric, policies or style of the president, but because I wanted to see just who my Florida neighbors who do really are.

I discovered an orderly crowd, more typical of those attending a sports event at this 8,500-seat arena. I wanted to hear people talk to one another.

I overheard banal conversations about everyday interests: traffic, the nearest gas station with the lowest prices, the weather. No politics. Even when the president led booing of the news media and cheering for the border wall, the crowd remained orderly.

I left early, confused about these Americans whose lives are like mine but whose ideas and problem-solving strategies are so different. Like Mr. Kristof, I am determined to try to listen harder, not to win my point of view, but to understand theirs and try to figure out how we can coexist together and thrive. I could use some help.

Leslie Mass
Englewood, Fla.

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