Climate is the problem
Voters don't care that much about the Democrats' top priority
Center-left intellectuals like me have two passions in life: complaining about the things that we, personally, find annoying about far-left ideologues and wringing our hands about the electoral fortunes of the Democratic Party.
Sometimes these two things coincide. We tend to live in urban areas, so we worried on a personal level about the spike in crime in 2020-2021 and (correctly) warned of the political risks of embracing soft-on-crime policies. But we are fallible and at times fall prey to the very human tendency to project our picayune concerns onto persuadable voters, while ignoring voter concerns that don’t line up with our own. And while insofar as “woke” politics leads to rising murders, that’s a very real political problem. And my sense is that a lot of people in my broad political space over-index on the idea that voters are worried about “cancel culture” and related matters. Center-left intellectuals, who are going to vote for Joe Biden, are much more worried about things like art museums deciding docent programs are racist, bad diversity training programs, and far-left academics doing bad history than the median voter is.
These things bother us because they are annoying and they impact the places we live and institutions we participate in and care about. But they aren’t very electorally significant because they don’t impact a very large number of people in a concrete way, are especially unlikely to impact the relatively disengaged folks who make up the bulk of the persuadable electorate, and also just don’t have that much to do with partisan politics. Joe Biden isn’t influencing art museums in Portland when they decide what to do with their docents.
Conversely, I think center-left intellectuals tend to downplay the potentially negative electoral impact of the increasing importance of climate change to the Democratic Party’s agenda precisely because it’s a cause that we genuinely care about.