Democrats Never Admit Defeat
By J. Peder Zane for RealClearPolitics
The only thing as wrong as the pre-election predictions of a red wave is the post-midterm analysis declaring a rousing victory by the Democrats.
Midterm election results boost Biden 2024 hopes, Reuters reports. Democrats can’t rest on their midterm success, declares a column published in the Hill. Perhaps the most predictable, if irrelevant, spin came from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who tweeted that House Democrats “defied expectations with an excellent performance: running their races with courage, optimism and determination.”
The more germane point is that Democrats lost the House and Pelosi will have to hand the gavel over to Kevin McCarthy next year. This monumental development should stop the Democrats’ legislative agenda in its tracks. President Biden’s hopes of becoming another FDR is now a pipe dream.
Yes, the Democrats exceeded expectations, performing better than history or pre-election polls suggested, as they won many close races in the House and hung on to their narrow margin in the Senate. But if we take a step back, the magnitude of things comes into focus.
Just two years ago, Democrats enjoyed a resounding victory, keeping the House, taking effective control of the Senate, and installing Joe Biden in the White House. Despite their narrow majorities they operated as if they had won by a landslide. The party that continually claims to be on “the right side of history,” and insists that the American people overwhelmingly support its policies, made every effort to give the country a full dose of its vision.
Biden’s first two years were a Golden Age for Democrats. They rammed through trillions of dollars of new spending while advancing the goals of diversity, inclusion, and equity across the government.
Meanwhile, they and their allies in the media worked to delegitimize their Republican opponents, casting them as racist, fascist “election deniers” who posed an existential threat to the “soul of democracy.” During the summer, liberals were handed an unexpected gift when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the poorly reasoned (but now-popular) 1973 case that legalized abortion across the land.
Given all that, one might have expected them to consolidate their power during the midterms. Instead, they lost some of it. Democrats may be raising relieved cheers, but they cannot spin away the fact that 55% of Americans disapprove of the president’s performance and 67% say the country is on the wrong track.
The election was a repudiation of the Democrats’ vision – even as voters sent a strong signal that they like Donald Trump’s toxic politics even less. It is very possible that Trump will rescue Democrats again in 2024 if Republican primary voters make him their party’s nominee once again.
Yes, all elections are a choice and Democrats can hope that the GOP keeps giving voters even more unpalatable candidates.
But that dynamic does not diminish the message voters sent to Democrats in the midterms. “We’re not as bad as the other guys” cannot be translated into an endorsement of one’s agenda.
The most telling comment following the midterms was Biden’s declaration that he will do “nothing” different in response to the results. Of course, he won’t. The Democrats are no longer a political party in the old American tradition – an ever-evolving group of people who have a general philosophy which they can quickly adapt to the changing will of the people. They are ideologues committed to a specific unbending set of ideas about the role of the welfare state and their concept of social justice.
They cannot change course because they are no longer running a slate of candidates but a set-in-stone philosophy whose correctness can never be questioned. They cannot admit defeat, because it’s hard for them to accept that the people do not embrace their “truths” (they just need more time). Election setbacks are just bumps in the road for them to ignore on their march to the promised land.
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
J. Peder Zane is a RealClearInvestigations editor and columnist. He previously worked as a book review editor and book columnist for the News & Observer (Raleigh), where his writing won several national honors. Zane has also worked at the New York Times and taught writing at Duke University and Saint Augustine’s University.