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“True America And Those Alien Regions”: Republicans Sneer At ‘New York Values.’ That’s Their Problem

When we look back on the 2016 primary campaign, few images will be as bizarre and amusing as Ted Cruz visiting a matzo bakery in Brooklyn and singing a few rounds of “Dayenu” with a bunch of kids. But that’s hardly been the only bit of weirdness coming out of the campaign in the last couple of days. “This is like being so alive, being in New York,” said John Kasich after chowing down on some Italian food in the Bronx.

For a few days, Republicans will pretend to be smitten with the Big Apple; it’s like a foreign trip, where the candidates come to a strange and unfamiliar land to behold the natives and sample their exotic culture.

But as we watch, remember this: If someone other than Donald Trump wins the nomination, he will not be returning to New York after its primary a week from Tuesday, unless it’s to raise money. And that’s another indication of Republicans’ fundamental weakness when it comes time to try to assemble a national majority in order to win the White House.

You might object that this isn’t just a Republican problem; there are many places in this great and diverse country of ours where Democrats are not competitive. And that’s absolutely true. In a general election, the Democratic candidate isn’t going to be campaigning in Mississippi or Oklahoma.

But there’s a difference in the way politicians in the two parties approach those alien regions. Democrats always insist that they’d love to have the support of voters in the South or conservative parts of the Midwest and West. They don’t attack those places as fundamentally un-American. Theirs may be just as much a regional party as the GOP, but they won’t ever say so.

Republicans, on the other hand, regularly assert that the places where they’re strongest are the true America, where the most virtuous people live and the real heart of our country resides. When Ted Cruz attacked Donald Trump for having “New York values” back in January, it wasn’t anything we hadn’t heard before. Indeed, Republicans everywhere (and a few Democrats, but this is mostly a Republican thing) will say they have “[insert our state] values,” as a way of charging that their opponents are strangers who see the world in fundamentally different ways than we do.

The truth, though, is that Cruz was absolutely right when he said that “New York values” are not what Republican voters are looking for, no matter how much support Trump has. When pressed on this point Cruz will say that he was talking about liberal ideology, but it’s much more than that. It’s the fact that New York is urban, young, constantly changing, and perhaps most of all, dominated by immigrants and minorities (more than a third of New York’s population was born outside the U.S. and two-thirds are non-white).

Like many other big cities, New York reflects the diverse coalition Democrats count on to push them over 50 percent, much more so than the nearly all-white GOP. That’s what makes it a threatening place to the typical Republican voter who wants America to go back to being the country it was when they were kids.

And interestingly enough, it’s the New Yorker Donald Trump who seems to have the strongest hold on the Republicans who feel that kind of threat most acutely. In a recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, 64 percent of Trump supporters agreed with the statement, “it bothers me when I come in contact with immigrants who speak little or no English,” something that your average New Yorker experiences just about every day. A much smaller (though still substantial) 46 percent of Cruz supporters and 38 percent of John Kasich’s supporters agreed. Trump may hail from Queens and live in Manhattan, but it’s his ability to tap into the fears and resentments of people whom you couldn’t pay to come to New York that has put him in the lead.

One might argue that the long primary campaign discourages regionalism and divisiveness by forcing candidates to pander to all kinds of Americans from all over the country. It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t actually work out that way in practice. Cruz is on the defensive a bit right now over the “New York values” comment (Kasich has a new ad  attacking him over it, featuring a vaguely New York-ish-sounding narrator talking about how Kasich is in touch with “our New York values”). But he knew exactly what he was doing when he said it.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 8, 2016

April 9, 2016 - Posted by | Donald Trump, New York Values, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , ,


  1. I am not sure Trump represents NY values either, unless it was narrowed to elite values.


    Comment by Keith | April 9, 2016 | Reply

    • Good one. Cruz should have said Trump values instead of New York values.


      Comment by raemd95 | April 9, 2016 | Reply

  2. Just to rub it into Republicans’ faces a little more, those New York values are subsidizing the wholesomeness and self-reliance of many red states that pay less in taxes than what they get in federal government spending – unlike New York that gets less.


    Comment by List of X | April 9, 2016 | Reply

    • You’re right. When it comes to money, they’re the first in line to stick out their hands, the true takers!


      Comment by raemd95 | April 9, 2016 | Reply

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