Why Democrats Can’t Have Nice Things
Trump is probably going to win a second term. And the Democrats have nobody to blame but themselves.
Here’s why the Democrats can’t have nice things. Like the White House.
Though by now the media has awarded Biden all 270 electoral votes and taped a transcript of his debate performance on the national refrigerator door, it is unclear Joe really wants to be president. He barely campaigns and usually ends his working day at noon. Since mid-August Biden logged 22 days where he didn’t make a public campaign appearance (during the same period Trump visited 19 states.) Biden has slept at home every night. He has no signature policy initiative. He simply presents his waxy self as the embodiment of the depressing strategy of Sorry, I’m the Lesser of Two Evils.
The Democratic party itself seems to feel much the same way. After four years of complaining Trump is an old, white, draft-dodging man linked to corruption, the best the Dem process could cough up was an even older, white, draft-dodging man linked to corruption. On a rare Biden visit outside his own yard to Charlotte, North Carolina, local organizers only turned out 16 people to meet the candidate. The chairwoman of the African American caucus only learned of the event from TV.
The party insists on its own demographic illusion. Latinos, key in crucial states like Arizona and Florida, have shown less support for Biden than for past Democratic nominees, resistant to a campaign defining them as “people of color.” Some 98 percent of Latinos don’t want to be called “Latinx” even as the Democrats continue to do so, pandering to the two percent. Ideology over reality, though it may not matter: a Telemundo poll shows 68.7 percent believe Trump won the first presidential debate, while 38 percent of Hispanic voters Democrats imagine they control in battleground states are ambivalent about voting at all.
In Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin net Democratic registrations are down by 38 percent from 2016. More to the point, registration among whites without college degrees is up 46 percent while registration by people of color is up only four percent. Turnout looks to be in trouble as well; in Wisconsin while 79 percent of black voters participated in the 2012 general election, in 2016 it was down to 47 percent. The risk of low turnout is even greater when one factors in age. About 78 percent of blacks age 60+ are likely to vote, compared to only 29 percent for blacks age 18-29.
Meanwhile, in this final stretch when they should be clawing for every vote, Dems are sending out scattered messages on in-person voting (“You might die of COVID but it’s so important you guys!!! LOL”) and planning on relying on a 19th-century mail-in system run by local yokels that works poorly under the best of circumstances. Plan B is to claim the system they told everyone to use didn’t work so it’s all unfair.
If Democrats really wanted to win some swing states they should have found a way to fix the water in Flint. They might have persuaded Mike Bloomberg to spend his money creating new jobs in Ohio instead of buying felons’ votes in Florida. Dems never talked to the voters they need the most. In fact, quite the opposite. They stomped their feet in a four-year tantrum and called them racists when Midwesterners never got appropriately offended by Trump. These people worked hard for what they have only to hear that dismissed as privilege. The NYTcalls them “the worst of us.” Call them the missing whites on election day.
Democrats also believe their own self-illusion. Instead of understanding social media as a winnowed, mob-enforced minority, Dem strategists believe it makes a difference. They think listening to podcasts, wearing cute #Resistance gear, retweeting and liking, holding Pink Hat marches and flash mobs, making donations to GoFundMe, signing online petitions before going on Etsy to buy Lincoln Project merch, all while talking about NPR in line at Trader Joe’s, matters. All the devices don’t add up to a single vote. It isn’t a barometer, it’s a mirror.
Voting Dem may just be too much of an ask for thinking people. Review the near-endless emotional hemophilia, hypocrisy, cognitive dissonance, and fake-news kudzu a Democratic voter is asked to ignore.
For example, a Trump rally, or a wedding, is a deadly super-spreader event but a BLM rally is not. Schools and businesses are open or closed at the discretion of governors and mayors but Trump is to blame. Demonstrations which devolve into riots are acceptable but a couple of rednecks open carrying at a statehouse is a precursor to civil war. BLM when the killer is a cop, a lot less so when the killer is a black gang member. The new Supreme Court will limit our rights, except if they extend our 2A rights and then more rights are bad. Kids in cages means Nazism but Biden bringing back the Obama national security advisers who created millions of refugees flowing out of Syria and Libya is no matter. Choosing a Supreme Court justice “too close” to an election is the end of democracy but Dems promising revenge by adding states, deep-sixing the Electoral College, and packing the court to jam through their own one-party eternal majority is not. A Muslim woman in Congress is revered for her adherence to sexist Islamic doctrine but a Catholic woman who honors her spouse is Handmaid’s Tale in Biblical proportions. #BelieveWomen applies to accusers of Republicans but not of Democrats. We must reawaken our democracy but if you vote for a third party you are working for Putin.
When the stock market was soaring it didn’t matter because most people did not own stock yet when it fell during COVID it was the end of the economy but when it recovered it no longer mattered again. None of the desperate warnings of war—Iran, China, North Korea, Venezuela, civil war in America—came to be. No one did anything bad after the embassy moved to Jerusalem or the Iranian agreement ended. All the things which were to disappear—the ACA, Roe, LGBT rights, same sex marriage—did not. Martial law was not declared, though the MSM signaled numerous times they would be OK with a military coup to depose Trump. Puerto Rico did not collapse. Trump did not launch nukes in a fit of psychosis. The Democrats over and over made insta-heroes of miserable people who then had to be disowned like Michaels Avenatti and Cohen, Robert Mueller, James Comey, and every former general who was going to flip and tell all but didn’t. I honestly have no idea anymore if Dr. Fauci is seen as a good guy or a bad guy by Dems. The Democratic party claimed that insubordination by government officials is to be honored if it is called #Resistance. Update: the Reichstag is still standing.
How can a thinking person look at all that and conclude “these are the people I want running the country.”
Too many readers will see this article as pro-Trump even though it does not praise Trump. And that’s the last point. Democrats and the MSM (let’s call it MSDNC) believe any criticism of the party means you love Trump, are a hater, racist, misogynist, or Russian bot. You must accept the Dossier, Russiagate, Ukraine, whatever crazy story is “reported by sources,” and vote Biden or else. It’s almost a threat.
Maybe if a little introspection had been allowed amid demands for conformity of thought, the Democratic party would not be imploring voters to believe the end justifies the means. Maybe they would not have cried wolf until only the true crazies are still listening. Maybe they would have foregone the public humiliation of the Mueller report and the failed impeachment. Maybe they’d be running a candidate that represented, well, something to vote for. Maybe they would not be so worried their voters won’t vote.
If Trump wins again, it will be safe to say Dems lost this election in 2016 when they failed to see the change the nation wanted and pushed Bernie aside. That gave Trump his first term. But rather than learn anything in the cold morning and seek redemption, the Dems basically did the same thing in 2020, albeit with the more likable Joe Biden. But Biden carries most of the same old-school baggage, inherits the still open wounds from the Obama years, and has that stanky taint of corruption after 47 years in government.
Yes, Joe’ll win the popular vote, the Electoral College are racist cheaters, Mrs. Jones’ ballot was lost in Raleigh, PutinFacebookPutinTwitterPutin, all a rich gumbo but whenever the end of the day comes, Trump will likely have his second term. More because the Democrats lost than because he won.
Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan, and Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the 99 Percent.