Photo Credit: Phil Roeder; Gage Skidmore; Lauren Gerson; CA Attorney General's Office; U.S. Senate; Wikipedia Commons.

The Democratic Party is riding high. They took the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. They bested President Donald Trump in the most recent round of the shutdown fight. And, judging by Mr. Trump’s poll numbers, 2020 holds the promise of yet more triumphs to come. And yet, the party’s left wing is busily planting the seeds of its own demise. Many on the left see Democrats’ midterm electoral success as not only a backlash against President Trump, but a ringing endorsement from the voting public of a progressive agenda. They are getting ahead of their skis.

An ascendant Democratic left, galvanized by President Trump’s chaotic two years in office, is pushing the Democrats’ agenda out of the mainstream.

An ascendant Democratic left, galvanized by President Trump’s chaotic two years in office, is pushing the Democrats’ agenda out of the mainstream.

The early entrants in the race to be the Democratic Party’s presidential  nominee, and its rising stars, all come from the far left. Kamala Harris, the California Senator who was the first to throw her hat in the Presidential ring recently declared that she not only supports government-run health care, she wants to see private health insurance done away with altogether. Democrats who once argued erroneously that if you like your doctor you can keep them now argue that if you like your health insurance, tough.

Ms. Harris’ opponent, Senator Elizabeth Warren, is proposing a wealth tax and wants to dramatically expand IRS audits. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, darling of the left and recently elected representative from New York, is pushing a 70% tax on wealthy people. Not to be outdone, Sen. Bernie Sanders thinks a 90% tax on the rich wouldn’t be such a crazy idea.

A bill moving through Virginia’s Democrat-controlled state legislature would permit late-term abortions, even if the mother was showing signs of going into labor. Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam explained that in such cases the baby would be delivered, resuscitated, and “kept comfortable” while the doctor and mother would have a conversation about whether the child is permitted to live. For even many pro-choice advocates, this is barbaric. Under the law, it’s arguably murder.

As Democrats race each other to the left, they are leaving the public who might vote for them further behind. The ominous straw man of Democrats drawn by the far right and the reality of what Democrats actually say they believe are beginning to converge. The further they go, the less outrageous Mr. Trump appears in comparison.

While Democrats have plenty of reason for cheer, their midterm win wasn’t quite as resounding as it first appears. Republicans were defending far more House seats in districts Hillary Clinton won than Democrats were defending in districts Donald Trump carried. Among the reasons incumbent parties tend to lose seats in a new President’s first midterm election is that as parties are on the rise, they gain seats in opposing party territory that are especially vulnerable to being retaken by the party that more naturally represents them. While this isn’t the only reason Democrats regained the House, it played a bigger role than many Democrats would care to admit. Much of the rest of their electoral success in 2018 can be attributed more to voters’. dissatisfaction with President Trump than a new-found embrace of progressive policy fantasies among the voting public.

When Democrats propose things such as Medicare for All, voters want to know how they intend to pay for its $32 billion price tag. Democrats don’t have an answer. Even the most aggressive soak the rich schemes wouldn’t come close. Some will say this is no more crazy than promising a 2,000 mile border wall that Mexico will pay for. But, it is precisely these sorts of outlandish promises that voters have had enough of.

Voters are frustrated with government dysfunction and incompetence and the fantastical fictions on offer from the Democratic left are hardly an improvement on the current state of affairs.

Voters are frustrated with government dysfunction and incompetence and the fantastical fictions on offer from the Democratic left are hardly an improvement on the current state of affairs. The shift in 2018, such that it was, is less a shift in ideology than it was a shift in which party voters are willing to entrust with competently running the government. Democrats ignore this reality at their own peril.

Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a Representative from California. She is, of course, a Representative from New  York. We regret the error.

Comments

comments