In late January, Tennesse Rep. Jim Cooper became the 29th Democrat to announce he will not be seeking re-election. Cooper, 67, who has served in Congress for over 31 years representing two districts, blames his retirement decision on redistricting in the state.
In an interview with Nashville Scene’s Stephen Elliott, published on Tuesday, the Congressman complained about gerrymandering which, of course, only happens when Republicans do it. But Cooper reserved his sharpest criticism for members of his own party, which he argued is “facing extinction.”
Cooper began by condemning Tennessee Democrats, however, by the end of the interview, his attacks were directed at the Democratic Party in general.
“As usual, Democrats are not alert to future dangers. The biggest danger we face in an off-year election after we won the White House is the 100-year trend toward the other party. Redistricting is small potatoes compared to that historical trend,” he told Elliott.
“Our party needs to improve its management capabilities. We do not anticipate and organize and plan.”
“What Tennessee Democrats need is a strategy to win. We’re addicted to telling other people what to think. You can’t really win many elections if you’re that self-righteous,” Cooper said.
“It’s important to be in communication with your constituents, not to be their boss. You’re their representative. We’ve got to get this formula right,” he explained. “The Democratic Party in Tennessee is basically facing extinction. We’ve been on a long downhill slide for a long time. Tennessee has fewer statewide elected offices than I think any other state, and now the only path upward will be through Memphis, which is not nearly as successful as Nashville. That fits Republican strategy very well. Their intent is to ghettoize the state Democratic Party.”
Democrats, he said, are so fixated on their woke policies, they fail to even try to build a relationship with heartland America, simply relying on “blind hope” instead of building meaningful connections. They don’t understand that rural voters feel no connectedness to elected officials in the party.
“Remind me what the [Democrats’] strategy is to change the minds of rural voters,” Cooper said. “Their strategy is blind hope. Many of the folks you’re probably listening to have probably never visited these counties. They’re not kin to these folks. Their best friends don’t live out there.”
Elliott asked the longtime lawmaker, “Do you think there’s any possibility that forcing Democrats in Nashville to think about these other parts of the state in these congressional elections might help them in statewide races?”
“Listen to the verb you just used. Forcing them. That implies it’s against their will,” Cooper replied. “What they have to do is genuinely love their brothers and sisters who live outside of Nashville.”
The idea of Democratic politicians loving or even caring about their fellow Americans is laughable. It may have been true decades ago, or at least Democrats tried hard to make it appear that they cared about their constituents. But they have long since dropped all pretense.
The entire party is singularly focused on maintaining and increasing political power, which is why they’ve been losing support among rural voters for quite some time.
We saw this trend borne out in the 2016 election, and it has accelerated since. The party is losing regular, working class people. The Democrats have lost their blue collar ethos and are now seen as the party of the smug, urban elites. But I digress.
Cooper continued, “People in Nashville don’t realize how many kindred spirits there are in these rural counties who feel trapped by the Republican representation. We saw last election a 10-point swing against Trump because the more educated folks in rural counties do not find Trump appealing.”
I’m not quite sure where Cooper’s 10-point swing comes from. According to data from Politico, former President Donald Trump defeated President Joe Biden in Tennessee by a margin of 60.7 to 37.5 in 2020. Trump lost only three counties in the state: Nashville, Memphis and Haywood.
In 2020, Biden was largely demolished in rural areas by Trump nationwide.
While Clinton saw rural constituents as “the deplorables” and Biden sees them as domestic terrorists, Trump truly delights in holding large rallies in rural areas of the country. He engages with the people, everyone laughs and they all have a ball. He easily builds that connection that Cooper rightly says is lacking between rural voters and the Democratic Party.
At any rate, the 16-term congressman asked rhetorically, “What steps have we taken to capitalize on that? What outreach do we have to Republicans and independents? Most of the rhetoric you hear is, ‘Let’s double down, let’s force it down their throats.’ That’s not the way to win votes. You have to have mutual respect and trust. First, that takes familiarity.
“Tip O’Neill said that all politics is local. He didn’t say all politics is long-distance,” he noted.
Democrats would be wise to listen to Cooper’s criticism, withering as it may be. Cooper at least is seeing things clearly while the progressive wing of his party buries its head in the sand and doubles down on their dysfunction. He may not be an ally, but he’s speaking the truth.
Preoccupied by their unbridled lust for power, Democrats have lost sight of their primary duties. They’ve forgotten that they were elected to represent Americans and to protect them from our enemies, foreign and domestic, not to amass power. The vast majority of voters did not sign up for a fundamental transformation of the United States. Among many other things, Americans are unhappy with our open southern border, our rising prices and the Democrats’ runaway spending. Our national debt now tops $30 trillion.
And yes, I understand that Republicans are guilty of overspending as well.
Since winning the White House and both chambers of Congress, Democrats’ contempt for the American people — and particularly those living in rural areas — has reached new heights. Their hubris truly knows no bounds.
They may think this goes unnoticed. But their handiwork has become too obvious and too toxic for them to hide.
The party is hemorraghing support from groups that had once strongly supported them, such as Hispanics. Their heavy-handed policies have cost them a substantial number of independents, the voters that decide elections.
Democrats are poised to lose big in the midterms.
Which they so richly deserve.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.