By Jerry Shenk
On Tuesday, November 6, a highly-anticipated Democratic Blue Wave trickled ashore, disappointing everyone.
Just six weeks earlier, Democrats were giddy about prospects of winning congressional majorities, including the Senate. Only twenty-three pick-ups would flip the House, but Democrats projected a fifty-plus seat gain – a rebuke to an “illegitimate” president.
Their rebuke never materialized.
Fifty seats didn’t flip. Neither did forty. Democrats may miss thirty. About $1 billion was spent on Democratic House hopefuls, much of it “dark” money, to pick up a modest majority in one-half of one-third of the government. Republicans increased their Senate majority.
Democrats mounted a subpar, first-presidential-midterm out-of-power-party performance, embarrassing, even, when weighed against expectations.
Democrats have been underperforming for years. Although elected president twice, Barack Obama was a disaster for Democrats who lost 1,000 state and local offices, a Senate supermajority, then the Senate, the House (where they lost 63 seats in 2010), and, ultimately, the presidency.
This year, weeks of anger-fed politics — character assassination, mob rule, intimidation and “democratic” socialism — squandered Democrats’ best opportunity since 2006-2008. Now, Democrats must take solace in ultimately meaningless theatrical, punitive, certain-to-backfire Pelosi/House-led witch hunts and political stunts that will reelect the president.
Left-wing Democrats control the media, higher education and popular culture, but Democrats are in constant states of paranoia, frustration, rage and bitterness, because controlling those too-seldom translates into real political power. Democrats blame every election disappointment on some combination of gerrymandering, racism, voter suppression, sexism, xenophobia or misconduct.
David Harsanyi wrote: “Democrats have a bad habit of acting as if every political setback…is caused by some act of criminality. This instigates…people to act like…children — or worse.”
Introspection is not their strong suit. Not once have most Democrats considered the possibility that their policies simply aren’t popular. Instead, Democrats make excuses and mock “bitter clingers” and “deplorables.”
When Republicans win elections, it’s because voters prefer them. Why? Americans who regard government as a necessary evil, prefer candidates who promote more-limited government and personal liberties rather than Democrats’ preference for big, intrusive government that redistributes taxpayer assets, limits choices, and sets rules for culture and personal conduct.
Moreover, in October, Thomas Edsall, a self-identified liberal, published a NY Times column entitled, “The Democrats’ Left Turn Is Not an Illusion.” Edsall recognized the populist rejection of the establishment liberalism consuming the Democratic Party.
Edsall: “Over the past 18 years, the Democratic electorate has moved steadily to the left, as liberals have displaced moderates… From 2001 to 2018, the share of Democratic voters who describe themselves as liberal has grown from 30 to 50 percent, according to…the Gallup Poll. […] One of the dangers for the Democratic Party — and the left-leaning parts of the establishment more broadly — is that they confound their actual audience with a small but highly visible group of activists.”
Party leaders could interpret their midterm performance as an opportunity to reject pitchfork politics and engage more rationally, but, more likely, their radical base will keep Democrats angry through 2020 — and beyond.