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Friday, October 28, 2022

The Democratic Failure

This morning fivethirtyeight.com shows the Republicans with an 81 percent chance of winning control of the House of Representatives and a very nearly 50-50 chance of controlling the Senate. They might actually outpoll the Democrats in the national popular vote for the House.   Even if they win only the House and not the Senate, Donald Trump will immediately become the favorite for the 2024 presidential election, and gridlock, shutdowns, and investigations of Hunter Biden and various Democratic officials will dominate the next two years. The January 6 investigation will shut down at once. I regret to say that the Democratic Party will bear a lot of responsibility for these results.

They are not, to be sure, solely to blame.  A lot of people like to claim nowadays that racism lies at the root of Republican success, but I do not agree.  Looking at the last 40 years, it seems to me that Ronald Reagan's insistence that government was the problem, not the solution, has remained part of the fabric of American politics.  We have seen this political movie before, twice.  Bill Clinton was elected in 1992 with a Democratic Congress.  He had only one major legislative accomplishment in his first term, his economic plan, whose tax increases allowed him to begin balancing budgets six years later.  It passed by a single vote in both the House and the Senate, and it led to a devastating defeat in his first midterm election, in which he lost both Houses of Congress.  Barack Obama was elected by a far more decisive margin in 2008 and brought veto-proof majorities in Congress along with him.  He too passed just one important piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act, without a single Republican vote, and he too suffered a devastating loss in the midterms, in which the Republicans won the House of Representatives.  Four years later they added the Senate, and Obama had no more legislative accomplishments to boast of for the rest of his term.  Joe Biden got some bipartisan support for a big COVID relief passage, and also for an infrastructure plan, but none for the Build Back Better Act, which some Democratic lunatic--I'd like to know who--disastrously renamed the Inflation Reduction Act.  (It had nothing to do with inflation and hasn't reduced it.)   Now his house majority appears to be doomed, and with it any hope of future legislative progress.  The swing voters in the American electorate appear to react instinctively against any attempt to mobilize economic resources to solve national problems. 

Yet the Democrats have their own problems as well.  After 2008, strategists like James Carville argued that they had created a new long-term majority of women, black voters, and Hispanic voters--an argument, in effect, that they could rely entirely on identity politics.  That view tallied with the feelings of many party activists, who learned postmodern theory in college and had come to believe that greater representation for those groups was in itself a critical political goal.  In the long run, however, it has been a political disadvantage in my opinion, because it encourages--and in some cases even requires--Democrats to select candidates from those groups, who may appeal to parts of the Democratic base but whose demographic characteristics will not help them among swing voters.  In addition, Hispanic voters in particular have remained far more diverse politically that Carville assumed, and increasing numbers have apparently decided that cultural and economic issues--such as inflation--matter a lot more than solidarity among nonwhites.  They are significantly trending Republican.   

And this Democratic disease, in a different but related form, may well cost them control of the Senate--which will make it impossible to put any Democrats on the federal bench for two years. John Fetterman, Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor, suffered a fairly serous stroke just before he defeated Representative Conor Lamb in this year's Senate Democratic primary contest.  It turns out that he had had some heart-related problems for years.  I have nothing against Fetterman personally, but party leaders should have made clear to him that the party simply could not take the risk of fielding a candidate with serious health issues in this critical election and forced him to step down in favor of Lamb.  Ill or disabled people, however, are among the "marginalized groups" that Democrats are now taught to favor, and they did not.  Fetterman in his one debate with Mehmet Oz this week showed very clearly that he has not recovered his ability to understand quickly and communicate clearly.  These are skills that ordinary voters very reasonably expect their elected officials to have.  Yesterday a new poll showed Oz leading Fetterman 48-45. 

Educated Democrats tend to believe that voters today owe their votes to Democrats because the Republican Party has become an irresponsible personality cult.  Voters however are clinging to the eternal American right to vote against the party in power when they are unhappy.  That is the dynamic, as I tried to show a few weeks ago, that has dominated American politics since 1992.  And if they do lose Congress, the Democrats will have to overcome another structural failure of theirs--their reliance on vice presidents and family members as presidential candidates.  They are already suffering from this right now.  No one ever took Joe Biden seriously as presidential timber for his 36 years in the Senate, and his two attempts to win the Democratic nomination went nowhere.  When Barack Obama chose him as running mate, however, he got the name recognition and access to key donors that candidates depend on.  He yielded the field in 2016 to another candidate who had become a national figure thanks to her marriage, but returned to win the nomination in 2020 with the help of the party establishment.  Then he attempted (on frankly identity politics grounds) to bring Kamala Harris into the charmed circle, even though her presidential campaign had not made it to the first primary vote. Neither Biden nor Harris, in my opinion, will be a strong candidate against Trump or Ron DeSantis in the next presidential election.  I can't see now who the alternative will be either.

Another disastrous aspect of the new American politics is also on display.   The Watergate investigation dealt with terrible political and legal abuses and justly secured Nixon's resignation, but it became a terrible precedent.  Investigations have replaced policy initiatives as political weapons ever since.  The Democrats tried and failed to use Iran-Contra to bring down Reagan and Bush. The Republicans used Whitewater--a non-issue--and Bill Clinton's sex life to try to bring him down, but impeachment failed.  They revived this tactic against Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 election and it may have worked then.  Now the Democrats seem to be relying on various investigations, rather than policy victories, to remove the threat of Donald Trump from our politics.  The Deep State is in fact their main weapon in this battle, as it was when Trump was first elected.  It's another symptom of the failure of our democracy.


6 comments:

James N. McClatchey said...

David, I think what you are saying here is true; but incomplete. Dare I speak its name? It is Wokeism promulgated by entertainment, academic, and media that is a daily drag on sentiments for the Democrats. It was bad enough to bow to the teacher's unions and close schools for 2 years leading to the disastrous learning losses that have recently been documented. It was bad enough to embrace the historical heresy of the 1619 Project and the strength of the patriarchy.

But the unwillingness to put any boundaries around the radical trans movement is poison. The idea that we are going to cure depression in 12 year old girls (whose brains will not be fully developed for another 10 years) with mutilation and sterilization is barbaric madness, and the Democratic President has just endorsed it. A classic example of promoting a permanent cure for what is most likely a temporary problem.

The Democratic Party is making enemies of vast parts of the American electorate particularly parents of young children. We saw it in the Virginia Governor's race last year. We are about to see it on November 8. It will be a wipeout for the Democrats.

David Kaiser said...

I don't disagree. Any predictions for GA electons?

James N. McClatchey said...

A Republican sweep. At every level and every statewide office.

Even the pitiful vessel of Herschel Walker will be elected. There is not an insignificant chance that Walker will even avoid a runoff.

Energyflow said...

If the liberal ideals taken to logical extremes are at their end,causing their own destruction, then it can only be for the good of all. Logical madness in any age, medieval counting of angels on pinheads, witch trials hundreds of years later, guillotine madness, stalinist terror, McCarthyism and now Facebook, Hollywood and co. banning free speech to save democracy as they define it, FBI,etc all working for a one party state with a cultural marxist ideology. The definition of intelligence and common sense cannot be restricted to certain ideologies and zip codes. The inmates have taken over the asylum. Usually revolutions have a purpose of overturning corrupt, useless systems but extremists gain the upper hand and the revolution never ends. The cultural revolution in China for example. Gradual change is more acceptable. The USA is supposedly quite liberal but jails millions, has incredible military and health care expenditures. This speaks of lobby interests. OTOH the woke cartel bans conservative speech. So the rich conservatives and liberals just agree on letting the other side have its own way in its own area. Paradoxically democrats are pro-war now, any war. Absurd historically.
On a whole it all seems to be about increasing control, expansionism. No gardens, chickens in backyard, bomb countries unwoke(latest hollywood phase). Next year perhaps we will be microchipped, sexually multinary fluid and thought controlled like borgs so that right-speak flows direct from ministry of propaganda to our mouths. In the end only Cui Bono and next technology. We worship change and money. I invent a gadget or process( Ford's assembly line, Mcdonald's fast food, IBM or PCs or smartphones, automobility, suburbia, big box stores, packaged foods, polyester, nylon, plastics, etc ) and all cultural, political developments follow. We go from family farm, subsistence independent individualism to standardized, atomized, cogs. Fracking was the last gasp of energy industry, then this age is doomed and will collapse. Meantime freaks of all kinds will reign. If I could start meowing or barking everywhere, proclaim my catness or dogness and be accepted as such, wear blackface and demand minority status or commit heinous crimes and swear my mother didn't love me so I get off free of charge. How can one go from 50s conservatism, southern lynch mobs to diametric, radical oposite is a mystery. Every insanity must run its course. I suppose "normal" is just a concept which adapts for our survival, in our own heads. Everyone will have 3D goggles on 24/7 and live in metaverse next, have nothing and be happy on soma. Brave New 1984. Musk boght Twitter, is a technology freak but otherwise possesses common sense. As opposed to Bezos buying WaPo in the name of The One Party MIC State and opening the universal store global. All luck to the opposition in the election, the RĂ©sistance, I should say. Remember populists House of Reps of the 90s or Tea Party types later, 80s Moral Majority. Politicians stink as they preach extremes, transgenderism or burkhas. God help us all.

Simple Mind said...

Thank you for laying out the current sad state of affairs, in particular reliance on family members and VPs. For our money, Dr Kaiser, the Democratic lunatic would be Joe Manchin.

Bozon said...

Professor
Great account.

Many ethnic, and often racially somewhat diverse, immigrant populations, even both latino, are not special friends.

Just one example I know something about; long established anti Castro cuban Republican groups, versus recent leftist Puerto Rican Democratic socialist migrants.

These people are fighting their own intramural latino battles against each other in American cities, especially in places like Florida.

Similar ethnic if not also racist rivalries can be referred to ad nauseam.

Similar confrontations break out now in Western cities all over the world and constantly now. Recently Hindus and Muslims got into it in Leicester.

Iranian women shut down Berlin recently to protest treatment of Iranian women in the Muslim world, not in Berlin.

The USA especially is a haven for disgruntled poor ignorant and lazy malcontents from all over the world. Their diverse and conflicting and violent and limitless causes, wants, or needs, gets called democracy, human rights, equality, and liberty, and they have gotten a seminally great hearing here from the beginning, 1776.

All the best