Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney of New York has said that his party has “a likability problem.”
During an interview conducted last month by the New York Times editorial board, but only recently published, Maloney was asked if he saw any areas where elected Democrats were not in line with Democratic voters.
“Well, the way I’ve often put this to my colleagues is to say, if our positions and our policies are so popular, why don’t they like us more?” Maloney told the outlet.
“And you’ll find broad agreement in our caucus, from the conservative Democrats to the most progressive, that we have a likability problem. And my answer to that is that we move really fast and we are really passionate about the solutions we want to bring. And we sometimes don’t give people enough time to understand what we’re doing and to bring them along,” he said. “I think sometimes we’re really clear on our own priorities, and we don’t ask, what are the priorities of the people we represent? If I’ve had any success in the Trump district, it’s because I try to take seriously the priorities of the people I represent, not just tell them about my own.”
Maloney said that “Democrats could be much more intentional about our work in rural areas, with veterans, with farmers, with people in communities that have not benefited from the global economy. We could talk like human beings, we could build a relationship with voters. We could be more comfortable on the factory floor — or at least as comfortable on the factory floor as we are in the faculty lounge, if it can sound that way.” He noted, “I think that most of the voters that we ask about this think that we’re out of touch, they think we’re elitist, we think we are better than they are. And they don’t like it.”
Maloney has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013.
“If I’m talking to a sheet metal worker in Pine Bush, he doesn’t talk about communities of color, he doesn’t use the word ‘rubric.’ He doesn’t talk about — the first-generation folks working in Newburgh don’t use the word ‘Latinx.’ Most people don’t understand who are cisgender, why they need to put pronouns on their email signature,” he said.
The congressman said that he believes Democrats are good at speaking with those who share their views, and good at dishing out contempt for those who disagree with them.
“And I think we’re really good at talking to people who already agree with us. I think we’re really good at delivering scorn to people who don’t. And it’s just a lousy way to get people to vote for you, because many don’t like them,” he said.
The New York Times editorial board has endorsed the lawmaker in his 2022 race.