It’s Time To Say A Very Unwelcome Thing
For everything there is a season. Given the times in which we now live this is the season for directness.
In the run-up to WWII, most Britons admired Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin’s deftness in signing the Munich Agreement. They were wrong to do so. Hailed as a pathway towards peace, that agreement was more accurately characterized by Winston Churchill as the “most unwelcome [of] things”; that is an empty triumph of ideology over facts. Which, in that case, lead to war.
In the United States many media commentators – and Democratic operatives — are heralding the recent midterm elections in the United States as a Democratic Party victory. In fact, it can just as easily be characterized as a jarring defeat for American Democracy.
Here is why.
America‘s two political parties – Democrats and Republicans – split about 2/3rds of voters roughly down the middle. The remaining 1/3rd are independents, who belong to neither party.
Right now, the Democratic Party is the only one functioning. At least when compared to the Republicans, who have collapsed into an afactual praetorian guard for Donald Trump; an aged narcissist unburdened by truth, who demands fealty to him and his false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
In a deeply fractured electorate, Trump’s stalwart voter base gave him an outsized voice in influencing far too many Republican Party primaries. Resulting in the dreariest slate of Republican candidates in living memory.
One such candidate was Lauren Boebert. Who, according, to Wikipedia, is a high school drop-out (she later earned an equivalency diploma) and failed restaurateur who supports private ownership of assault rifles, actively opposed laws intended to keep them out of the hands of demonstrably unstable people, and blames the National Institutes of Health and its Director, Anthony Faucci, for having funded COVID-19.
Boebert is sympathetic to, and supported by, various militias implicated in the January 6th insurrection. She also “hope[s]” QAnon – a loose amalgam of conspiracy theorists united by the belief that Democrats are pedophile sex traffickers – is “real” and considers the 2020 election (which she won but Trump lost) a massive fraud.
As does another Trump pick – Herschel Walker, who was a very talented former professional football player. And, quite possibly, the least qualified person to ever run for the United States Senate.
According to Wikipedia, Walker’s view on climate change is, at least in part, that “[s]ince we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s air, so when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move, [s]o it moves over to our good air space. Then, now, we got to clean that back up.”
Walker supported banning all abortions. In the face of credible allegations by two different women that he allegedly impregnated and then encouraged to abort their fetuses. Walker also suggested, falsely, that he was an FBI agent. And stated, falsely, that he is a college graduate.
Some of which may be attributable to mental illness. He has acknowledged no less than a dozen distinct identities – some of whom were good, and some that “exhibited extreme and violent behavior, which Walker said he mostly could not remember.” That memory lapse apparently includes threatening to blow an ex-girlfriend’s head off in 2012. After having previously pointed a revolver at this then wife’s head and threatening to blow her brains out in 2001.
Trump’s endorsement, though, rested on Walker’s election denial. Claiming a massive fraud in which over 32,000,000 of Biden’s 81,000,000 votes were fabricated, Walker called for “re-votes” in multiple states and suggested that the January 6th insurrection was a false flag operation designed to distract Americans from voter fraud.
Faced with such opponents, the Democrats should have swept the table. But they did not. Boebert was re-elected. Walker came within a whisker of wining on November 8. Overall, the Democrats barely held the Senate and lost the House of Representatives. And the percentage of American voters who identify as Republicans has increased – from 24% right after Biden’s 2020 election to 33% now – while the Democratic share has decreased from 30% to 29%.
What explains this? Why have the Democrats so egregiously underachieved with voters?
It likely isn’t about policy. While excelling at taglines (“Build the Wall”), during his four years in office Trump repeatedly demonstrated his unwillingness to do the hard work of actually governing. Yet in 2020, 74,000,000 voters supported his re-election. By contrast, Biden, who played a key role in passing legislation addressing issues popular with voters (e.g., infrastructure and climate change), has seen his approval rating sink from over 54 to just under to just under 42 percent.
In addition, many government policies are also mind-numbingly complex. The 2,600 page Internal Revenue Code is supplemented by thousands of pages of regulatory interpretations, case law, and agency rulings. The 900 plus page Affordable Care Act spawned another 11,000 pages of implementing regulations.
Then there is the American voter, whose government consists of three co-equal branches that share power; the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary. In a 2020 survey, just 51 percent of adult Americans could name all three branches. Of the remainder, twenty-three percent could not name any branch. And more than fifty percent did not know that freedom of religion and of the press are federally guaranteed rights.
This is not to say policies aren’t important to many voters. But it seems unlikely that they are dispositive in a country where elections are now being decided by the slimmest of margins. Boebert, for example, won by less than 600 of the over 320,000 votes cast. In Georgia, only 36,000 votes separated Walker from his Democratic opponent on November 8th. In the December 6 run-off, that margin increased to just under 100,000. Out of over 3.5 million cast.
What else could account for the jaggedness of the American electorate? Let us turn again to Joe Biden for a possible answer. He was elected on the third try – having previously run, and lost, twice. What changed in 2020? It was that voting for Biden became a vote for normalcy. In a nation exhausted by chaos.
Have Biden, and the Democratic Party writ large, delivered? In a word, “not really.”
For Erin Aubrey Kaplan, who is a progressive, normalcy in America means living in a “a culture” of “radicalized power, an assumed authority of white people (chiefly men) to set and enforce the social and moral order as they see fit” – which has gone “mainstream.” Even if they don’t know it, Kaplan maintains, advocating for policies that “disadvantage people” equates to racism by racists. Whom, she states, are “average citizens in suburbia” that “often hold jobs, are married and have children” but “suffer from implicit bias and ignorance.” Those who “attend church or belong to community groups” are, according to Kaplan, even worse because they are “more likely to hold violent conspiratorial beliefs.” Nor is this an affliction of the few. Instead, “[w]hite supremacy is meant for all white people,” not just Trumpists. It is a self-sustaining “ecosystem that touches everyone,” including moderate Democrats.
Kaplan is no outlier. A contributing writer to the New York and Los Angeles Times – among other mainstream national publications – and the author of several critically acclaimed works, Kaplan is the recipient of multiple book and journalism awards. Her “truth” – amplified and extolled along with those of other progressives – has rippled through the architecture of this country.
You can see it in the open border crowd, who insist that there are no illegal aliens; only “undocumented migrants.” As well as the “defund the police” crowd who believe that the criminal justice system is permeated by institutional racism. You can see it in the failure, after George Floyd’s death, of many cities to prosecute identifiable looters captured on film as they broke into stores during riots. You can see it in the recent New York City law giving non-citizens the right to vote, and in the Biden Administration’s attempt to pay Black farmers over five billion dollars in reparations for historical injustices that occurred over the past 100 years. You can see it in the virtue signalers who forced Teen Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief to resign for having tweeted, as a 17 year old, that she was “googling how to not wake up with swollen Asian eyes.”
And you can see it in an accelerating abandonment of common sense. Exemplified, perhaps, in the refusal to acknowledge the rather unremarkable notion that reading more to children when they are small may encourage them to enjoy books, and school, more as they grow. Why is this obvious truism unacceptable? Not because it isn’t obviously true. But rather, as recently reported by The Economist, a movement among academic researchers “reject such research in principle” because it “explains and justifies outcome inequalities” by looking to the parents or family structures of children of color as a factor in causing disparate outcomes. Is it that family structures aren’t part of every child’s life? Or is it instead that improving their lives matters less than the need of some ideologues to explain every social outcome as race based?
The progressive wing of the Democratic Party is certainly entitled to their views. Where, though, does that leave moderates of both parties, as well as the Republicans deeply troubled by their own party’s disintegration? I can tell you where it leaves one Republican. Me.
On the one hand, as a suburban, middle-aged white male who has tried (with varying degrees of success) to participate in community groups, I fit squarely within Kaplan’s “whiteness problem.” On the other, my family fled from the anti-Semitic pogroms of Tsarist Russia, struggled for two generations in abject poverty on the lower East Side of New York City, and spilled our blood during WW II on the battlefields in Europe. My parents also read to me. Early and often.
I will not dwell here on the intolerance my group faces internationally, or in the United States. Suffice it to say that – with all its flaws — I continue to believe that America plainly remains on the right side of human progress.
We all belong to groups. But our lives are individually lived one person, and one family, at a time. This granular reality gives rise to a granular notion of equality. One that focuses less on the admittedly real societal problems of income inequality and racism, and more on the belief that we should be defined by what we do as individuals. Not what our parents, children, or neighbors did or do. Nor by our skin pigmentation.
Martin Luther King, Jr., dreamed of a world in which people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. It is a view that many Americans across parties share, and support.
Aspirational? Yes. More hope than reality? Possibly. But hope is what motivates and brings people together. If hope for a colorblind society makes me a white supremacist, then that phrase has lost its meaning.
The simple fact is that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party invites the exaggerated (but not wholly wrong) claim that they don’t value how far we have traveled as a nation, or as individuals. And have walked away from individual accountability and towards collective guilt in a society that has many members who weren’t yet alive, weren’t yet in this country, or both when most historical wrongs took place.
Leaving us where, exactly? With a democracy resting on sand. Right now, a broken Republican Party is undermining our country in real time. In soil fertilized by a Democratic Party that is undermining us incrementally.
Many hard right and left voters are too dug in to change. Securing American Democracy does not need them to. It is enough that our one viable party – the Democratic Party – modestly broadens its appeal by collapsing and rejecting the worst parts of its ideological tent. If that happens, then we will move past elections that put our basic democracy in play, decided by numbers that are razor thin.
Will the Democratic Party rise to the responsibility of representing more of us? Or will our freedoms remain hostage to a fading 80 year old President, a pathetic 76 year old insurrectionist, and creeping extremism?
Click here for the full Insider Index
Perhaps if the Democratic party focused on economic issues and less on social issues. They could win a huge majority. First they must kick out the SJWs in their party.