Wajahat Ali: New York Times Writer Responds to National Review

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Outside the New York Times building in New York City, August 3, 2020 (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

I gather he didn’t like my comment on his New York Times op-ed on the folly of reaching out to Trump supporters. He snipes, “I await The National Review’s piece on reaching out to Biden voters and reading about their ‘elegy’ and understanding their ‘economic anxiety.’”

After the 2016 election, there were many suggestions that progressives and Democrats should try harder to appeal to non-progressive voters, and especially to working-class white voters who had previously voted Democratic but then supported Donald Trump. Some of the Left resented this advice. They complained that nobody ever tells Republicans to try to appeal to Democratic voters (that’s the point Ali is making here) or wrote off Trump supporters as deplorables who shouldn’t be courted (one of the points of his op-ed).

But. . . Biden appears to have needed some Trump voters (albeit a small fraction of them) to have second thoughts in order to win the election. And Republicans looking ahead to 2022 and 2024 absolutely should try to appeal to some of the people who voted for Biden this year, and they should do so in part by making the case that they will address these voters’ economic concerns better than the Democrats will. NR may not always frame advice to Republicans in the heavy-handed and sometimes condescending manner of much of that post-2016 commentary, but we constantly run articles about how and why conservatives should seek to persuade people who aren’t yet with us.

What I guarantee we won’t do is run an article in which the author explains that he spent twenty minutes in conversation with a liberal in Brooklyn, failed to change his politics, and then realized that persuasion is a waste of time.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.






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