The Dumbest Smart People

Joanna Cohen
Sep 27, 2020 · 12 min read

Yes, Democrats, I’m talking to you

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Imagine this: Donald Trump wins a second term.

And it’s not because he cheated. There’s no rigging. No bots or missing ballots. No relying on his comrade Vlad to get him over the line.

None of the doomsday scenarios the Dems are assuming will come to pass actually come to pass. There’s no military intervention, no violence in the streets.

He just plain wins. As in get more votes. Like, a lot more. The country spoke and what the majority of it said is that it wants Trump to stick around.

What will the left do then?

Will it finally embark upon the soul-searching it failed to do after Hillary failed to win the electoral college?

Will it address its staggering lack of self-awareness? Will it see how the very strategies it employs work counter to its own goals? Will it acknowledge just how often and how much it turns off and alienates its own? Will it come to understand how maddeningly predictable it is, and how that predictability plays right into the other side’s hands?

In other words, will the left finally take responsibility for its huge role in giving us another four years of the tawny beast and start making some serious changes?

I’m a left-leaning Independent, but I’m less to the left than I was before Trump. And I hate Trump. But I also hate that the Democrats are so smart and yet so dumb.

Let’s break it down:

  1. Intolerance.

I’ve written about this ad nauseam, but in a nutshell: Woke ain’t the way. Yes to equality. Yes to justice. But a big no to the approach the left has taken to getting there. It is time to wave goodbye to your guru Robin DiAngelo and welcome civilized debate, moderation, and nuance back into the fold.

If you’d like to see a great example of nuance trying to work its way into a discussion on race, watch Bill Maher (my hero) with his guests Bakari Sellers and Coleman Hughes on the September 25th episode of HBO’s “Real Time.”

Hughes, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor at City Journal, keeps attempting, along with Maher, to calmly and rationally introduce some really smart ideas into the conversation. Ideas that offer a better, deeper, more complex and also more productive way to look at racial issues. Ideas that happen to run counter to the not-so-smart and rather unproductive ideas that dominate the current discourse — and he just can’t get anywhere.

I, for one, am going to start reading Hughes and listening to his podcast “Conversations with Coleman” not because I’ll necessarily agree with everything he says, but because I like that he doesn’t just swallow the dogma whole. He, along with writers and thinkers such as Jonathan Haidt, Matt Taibbi, John McWhorter, and Thomas Chatterton Williams will light the way out of this mess. So put down your copy of White Fragility and get on board the train that’s going in the right direction.

2. Great Expectations

The Democratic party still does not understand that in this political moment dignity and decency will get them exactly nowhere. They still don’t get that relying on those traits right now is futile. And expecting them from the other side? Well, that’s just nuts.

This isn’t a cocktail party. It’s a cage fight.

It has been widely reported that just before her death, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a statement dictated to her granddaughter, said, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

I have the greatest respect for Justice Ginsburg, but Mitch McConnell doesn’t give a devil’s derrière about wishes. He wants power and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get it.

From the moment Trump became the Republican nominee, Democrats have been in a panic over the Supreme Court. He could get as many as five seats! What will happen with regulation?! Immigration?! Roe?!

That was four years ago. We knew Justice Ginsburg was ailing then, and we knew the right had been laying the groundwork to shift the balance of the court for decades. So where’s the strategy to combat it? You say we shouldn’t need a strategy. McConnell refused to vote on Merrick Garland, so he should do the right thing now.

Hear that?

That’s the sound of a thousand Republicans laughing their asses off.

Because Democrats still think outrage is a strategy. And if they just express enough of it, Republicans will put country above party, turn against this president, whom they know full-well is a raging lunatic, and we’ll all live happily ever after, right?


While Democrats are busy being outraged, Republicans are busy getting things done. Like reshaping the Supreme Court and paving the way for a second Trump term.

And the so-called left-wing media is not helping.

Here comes The New York Times with another blockbuster investigative piece on Trump:


Omigod, seriously??? Trump hasn’t paid his fair share in taxes???

Um, duh.

The Times published what you might call a prelude to this piece back in May, “Decade in the Red: Trump Tax Figures Show Over $1 Billion in Business Losses”. People were all aTwitter about for a week. And that was it.

Now we have a BLAZING BANNER HEADLINE and charts and graphs and a note from Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet telling us why the paper published the story (in case you think it might be a tad questionable ethics-wise), and the “key findings” from the investigation (because who has time to read all this.)

And, hey, it’s fantastic that reporters are shining a light on what a fraud, liar, and loser Trump is. But if anyone thinks dropping a bomb like this (right before the first Presidential debate!) is going to move the needle on the election — it won’t.

The left has this way of putting all its eggs in the “We’re gonna bust him!” basket. Comey’s testimony. The Mueller Report. Impeachment. Not only did none of it take Trump down, people barely remember it.

Here’s the truth about a piece like this: About seven people will read it in its entirety. The rest will skim it or not read it at all, but they will be outraged about it. They’ll talk to their friends about how outrageous it is, and watch the talking heads discuss how outrageous it is. Trump will call it fake news. His base won’t give a hoot. And, in the end, nothing will have changed.

For those who can’t stand Trump, it’s just confirmation of what we already knew.

For those who are all in on Trump, the whole thing comes off as self-congratulatory and ultimately worthless. You can have your Pulitzer. We’ll take four more years.

Learn the lesson already, Times. Your reporting is important, vitally so. But you’re not going to exposé Trump out of office. All the president’s men ain’t what they used to be.

On Twitter recently, Taibbi wrote, “When was the last time you saw any content that was critical of the Democrats on MSNBC?”

I’m not sure what the answer is, but my husband and I watch a fair amount of “The Rachel Maddow Show” and just last week I turned to him and said she really needs to stop devoting so much air time to Trump.

Where are the stories on Biden? What’s his campaign up to? Why does she hardly ever lead with, let alone fill an hour, or a entire week, with that? I tune in for political analysis and all I’m getting is her telling me, yet again, what a diabolical nutbag Donald Trump is.

Tell me something I don’t know.

Can you believe what Trump said about American troops?! Can you believe he had another huge rally and half the people weren’t wearing masks?! Can you believe he won’t agree to the peaceful transfer of power if he loses?!

Of course, I believe it.

I also believe that the left is addicted to hearing about Trump. They can’t get enough of the guy. And Republicans not only love this, they count on it.

President Id says something batty and the left-wing media chases it like a tiger whose been tossed a hunk of red meat. Then Biden supporters go into a state of apoplexy, which consumes them and ultimately distracts them from the real work to be done.

For God’s sake, Dems, stop being so predictable. Stop taking the bait. Forget the clown at the podium. Pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

Dems are hooked on the emotional satisfaction they get when Maddow or Bob Woodward or David Remnick confirms their beliefs. (Yes, Trump really is the worst person to ever walk the earth!) And Democratic leaders are making a potentially ruinous mistake by continuing to indulge in proving (mostly to themselves) what a horrible president Trump is instead of producing a concrete, detailed, actionable plan to get rid of him.

Check out Bernie Sanders on Maher’s show trying to explain what specifically Democrats will do if Trump refuses to leave office. He can’t do it. This encapsulates the problem. Lots of indignation/blind faith in “the American people.” No plan.

And time is running out. There are 37 days until the election and I still don’t understand how Joe Biden is going to win. What’s the strategy? Tell people to vote and vote early, so Joe wins in a landslide? I’m not sure that’s gonna do it. I’d like to see a stronger playbook, a more convincing path to victory.

At this point, I’ll take a slogan.

Quick, tell me Biden’s campaign slogan.

Don’t know? Neither do I. On his official campaign website there appear to be three: “Unite For A Better Future,” “Battle for the Soul of a Nation,” and “Build Back Better.” So… are we uniting first and then battling? And when does the building start?

Loathe Trump all you want, as I certainly do, but “Make America Great Again” is a great slogan. A backward and racist one, but it’s clear and concise and it gets his base fired up.

Bill Clinton once said, “When people are insecure, they’d rather have somebody who is strong and wrong than someone who’s weak and right.”

Democrats, I ask you: Would you rather win or be right?”

Republicans want to win. And they have a plan. Sure, it’s amoral and abhorrent and gives the middle finger to rules and norms and the Constitution.

But it works.

While the Democrats are wishing and hoping, staying the path of righteousness and wokeness, crying foul about all the bad, bad things the Republicans are doing — the Republicans are moving the ball down the field.

Republicans aren’t wasting their time making moral appeals. They don’t bother with silly stuff like right or wrong, logic or reason. They go for the gut. Make people feel good, tell ’em what they want to hear, whether it bears any resemblance to the truth or not.

Now, I’m in no way endorsing the shameless, factless, scienceless show that Trump puts on, I’m pointing out that the people behind him understand that it is a show. The crowds want entertainment not eloquence. They want to see strength and swagger in their dear leader, even if it’s all a giant con.

The Dems insist on feeding people kale while the Republicans give them McDonald’s — because that’s what they want (regardless of whether it’s good for them) and, more important, that’s what wins.

Republicans know that when it comes to down to it, the majority of Americans — at least the majority it will take to win in November — care most about two things:

Money and God.

And by God, I mean Jesus.

Republicans understand that’s the magic word. Say it and — poof — nothing else matters. Except a promise not to raise taxes on the rich.

So you have a convention where you let Jesus take the wheel; paint a picture of the lawless, chaotic future that Biden, puppet of a radical left, is sure to create; parade out a bunch beautiful blondes; add a pinch of UFC; throw in a couple of racist gun nuts; shamelessly exploit a formerly incarcerated man and a few brand-new American citizens — et voilà, you have a winner.

As a friend of mine put it, “We’re living in an A.O.C. world.”

Except we’re not. The left has just made it seem that way. And that is at the heart of why Democrats are going to lose this election.

3. Empathy

There’s been a lot of talk about empathy lately. Conventional wisdom says Democrats have loads of it and Republicans have none.

I’m not sure.

First of all, empathy is not the same as sympathy. And it’s the latter that has real value.

According to Merriam-Webster, “sympathy” is when one person shares the same feelings as another. With “empathy” you can imagine or understand how someone might feel, without necessarily having those feelings yourself.

But let’s be real. Imagining yourself in another’s shoes is not the same as having actually walked in them.

People often only truly care about an issue or become invested in a solving a problem when it has a direct impact on their life. For example, Dick Cheney famously distanced himself from President George W. Bush by supporting same-sex marriage because he has a gay daughter. “It’s an issue our family is very familiar with,” he said at an Iowa campaign rally in 1994.

In other words: sympathy.

Thinking about how sympathy differs from empathy has helped me figure out why we’ve made so little progress on race in this country,

To be blunt, a lot of white people don’t care. And I’m not talking about the bigots who are out there, loud and proud, with their hate. I’m talking about white progressives. The millionaires and billionaires in blue cities like New York and Los Angeles, who will always choose to protect their cash and cush lifestyle even if it means casting their votes for Trump.

Along these lines, I recently listened to the podcast “Nice White Parents.” If you haven’t heard it, it’s a co-production from Serial and The New York Times, and the gist is that progressive white parents are the reason the New York City public school system is awful, and has been awful for decades.

On September 15th, Brian Lehrer asked New York City mayor Bill de Blasio if he’d heard the podcast (he hadn’t). So Lehrer explained the premise and asked the mayor what he thought.

“I just feel like this is a lot of cocktail party comfort going on rather than people honestly dealing with this issue,” de Blasio said. “Help me tax the wealthy. Help me redistribute wealth. Help me build affordable housing in white communities if you want desegregation. If you do not want to do all those things, then you’re not serious about desegregation.”


Now, I’m not saying white people don’t have empathy. Of course, many of us feel fury and sadness over the ongoing murders of innocent black people at the hands of police, over the racist practices and policies that pervade our institutions, and the everyday racism people of color endure while jogging, shopping, driving, or simply existing.

But white people do not — cannot — feel sympathy. They cannot truly feel what George Floyd or Breonna Taylor felt. And that’s not our fault. But it is our fault that empathy is not enough to propel us to action.

And by action I don’t mean displaying a Black Lives Matter sign on your lawn or donating some dough to the ACLU. I mean doing something that requires sacrifice, and maybe discomfort.

George Costanza, that coastal elite political philosopher, once said, “We’re living in a society!” But I wonder if we really are. How can we be if people talk a good game on race, but won’t pay more in taxes so wealth is distributed more fairly? How can we be if people retreat when times get tough? Distance themselves, physically or otherwise, from problems that are on all of us to solve, like homelessness and unemployment and racial injustice.

We need people not just to view these problems from afar, from a safe distance or on CNN, but to get close, with their families, with their children, so they can really feel them, feel connected to them, and hopefully be moved to act on them.

Are you willing to do that?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

So when Trump wins, please don’t just point fingers at the people in the Maga hats. Look in the mirror. Also see your fundamental selfishness, cowardice, and hypocrisy, and how it contributed to getting us where we are. Consider working on it. Consider being less woke and more critical in your thinking. Consider focusing not on how bad Trump is but what to actually do about it. And then do it.

Maybe then, if the apocalypse hasn’t arrived, we’ll get ’em next time.

Joanna Cohen

Written by

Writer, athlete, mom, sports fan. New York City native. Probably the only person on earth who has interviewed Derek Jeter and written dialogue for Susan Lucci.

The KickStarter

A place for passionate writers, innovators, entrepreneurs, digital marketers, side hustlers, and anyone who is ready to help people solve their problems.

Joanna Cohen

Written by

Writer, athlete, mom, sports fan. New York City native. Probably the only person on earth who has interviewed Derek Jeter and written dialogue for Susan Lucci.

The KickStarter

A place for passionate writers, innovators, entrepreneurs, digital marketers, side hustlers, and anyone who is ready to help people solve their problems.

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