Frustration with the Trump presidency was rabid among my Democratic friends before yesterday's mid-term election. Early last evening, they were hit with existential despair as it gradually became obvious there would be no “Blue Wave.” The Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. That was expected, though they may fall short of gaining 30+ seats some progressives hoped for. The Senate remained Republican with the conservatives even taking a couple of seats away from the Dems. Among high-profile races Ted Cruz defeated Beto O’Rourke in the Texas senate race. A clear win for the Trump brand.
It was better news for the Democrats at the level of governor races. Here is probably where they performed their best in 2018. They managed to flip seven states from red to blue, and won a total of 15 states, surely the strongest showing for what I would call the Blue Ripple. Still, the Neocons managed outpace them, winning 19 states, with usually liberal Massachusetts and the critical swing-state of Ohio among them. No mandate there for either side. Georgia is currently ‘too close to call’ but it is not seriously so in my opinion. If the Democrats hope to beat Trump in 2020 they need to put Georgia in play. Perhaps Stacey Abrams’ loss to Brian Kemp by less than a percentage point might mean a competitive race from Trump in the next election. A faint reason for hope there.
Trump went out of his way to make this mid-term a referendum about him. He realizes that his personality is greater than the overall Republican party itself. To that extent, what we have is a muddled message and clearly not anything remotely close to a repudiation of President Trump. The right-wing gravitational pull remains intact. This country is nowhere close to being receptive to the “progressive” message.
The fact that liberals (let's call a spade a spade) have had to rebrand themselves under another banner is indicative enough of how out of touch they are with the main stream. Medicare for all. Free college education. These and several other left-wing pipe dreams are not only outside the mainstream (and therefore untenable on a national level for the 2020 election) they are BAD policy suggestions.
Simply put, to address a perceived social issue in a vacuum is juvenile politics. We may have health access issues for some Americans. Our college students may be swimming in debt. But giving these things away as entitlements is not the answer and the majority of the American people know it. Neither approach addresses the core problem. Healthcare and higher education cost too much in this country – for everybody. THAT is the fundamental issue. While the rise in healthcare costs has been somewhat addressed, no one is addressing the costs of college, or of much of anything else in this country.
The Republicans want to have their cake and eat it too. They want lower taxes and a lower debt. It ain’t going to happen. Likewise, the Democrats want to give stuff away when the fact of the matter is, if nothing is done to address costs you are just throwing new sources of money into the void of bureaucracy, which will just gobble it all and beg for more. And the cost to the American taxpayer, the size of the national debt, will continue to grow at a rate threatening future generations. That is totally irresponsible on the part of both parties.
But the debt was not an issue this year. For whatever fickle reason, it didn’t matter that this country is now over $21 trillion, over twice as much as when I blogged about it in 2009. This will catch up to us one day in the not too distant future.
The time for giving shit away to every mediocre citizen of this nation is gone, if it were really ever here at all. There is no new New Deal. That is old history. The problem Democrats face going forward is that their liberal wing is contributing at least as much to the polarization of American politics as the right-wingnuts out there. Anyway, with Trump in control of the Senate he will continue to control the judiciary and it will continue to digress into a conservative cesspool of outmoded, backwards thinking legal and ethical standards. A win for the Trump brand.
Meanwhile, the Democrats can use their control of the House to pester the Trump administration with budgets and with investigations against our narcissistic demagogue of a president. My fear is that if they push too hard against Trump without a mandate (there was no mandate for either side in this election) it will backfire on them just as all this liberal "give shit away" crap will backfire. Press too hard on Trump’s alleged crimes and misdemeanors and you will end up creating broader voter sympathy for the asshole.
And so it goes. This midterm was actually the beginning of the 2020 presidential campaign. The results are mixed, just as they were in 2016. The House rests on popular vote, which the Dems won. But the Senate is more of a State/Electoral College institution – and it sides with Trump. Apparently, nothing has changed but for the Dems meager control of the House which, at best, can create gridlock and minimize the damage Trump can do outside of judicial matters.
My liberal friends don’t like it when I say the ‘progressive’ message doesn’t fit in 2018. Some of them proclaimed that they were not being "radical" at all, they were simply returning to their roots of the Roosevelt presidential era. That doesn’t change my response at all. Even if you are going back to your roots, you are still out of touch with what the message needs to be. It is not a simple Left versus Right. It is far more nuanced than that and requires and mix of liberal (on civil rights, for example) and conservative (on fiscal restraint) initiatives.
To all you liberals out there, I have two pieces of advice. Stop calling yourself ‘progressives.’ That rebranding makes you look even more stupid than some of your policy suggestions actually are. Secondly, you can either be "idealistically right" or you can get elected. You can’t be both. Some soul-searching compromises are in order to be competitive nationally. Do you want to win in 2020? Then, quite obviously, carrying forward with your messaging in 2018 will only get Trump reelected. That’s the fundamental takeaway from this midterm business.
Do want to be right or do you want to win?
Note: I followed the election on fivethirtyeight.com and on this excellent live map offered by Axios.
Nietzsche's Journey to Sorrento
4 months ago