Democrats Are Losing Because They Believed Their Own Press


“We’ve got to be more ruthless,” more than one Democrat strategist has proclaimed since Saturday’s vote to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. They’ve just gone through three weeks of a targeted, organized character assassination of a Supreme Court nominee and think they need to be more ruthless. Ponder that for a minute.

But the real issue here is that the Democrats have believed their own press. They have been so used to the media saying Democrats are the majority party that they’ve believed it. John Harris of Politico offers a taste on the spin.

Since 1988, the GOP has won the popular vote only once out of seven presidential elections, in 2004. During the same time, Republican warriors starting with Newt Gingrich in the late 1980s regularly shattered political norms—as defined by establishment political figures and media organs like the New York Times—using a strategy in which politics and law were harnessed to a long-term pursuit of power.

Democrats really believe these things. After letting Miguel Estrada twist in the wind; after organizing the media to blame Sarah Palin for an attempted assassination in Arizona that she was in no way involved with; after blaming the NRA for various shootings; after telling hispanic voters the GOP was the enemy; after telling their voters to take guns to knife fights; after escalating the rhetoric to ‘we need to be more ruthless’ following a mass assassination attempt on Republican members of Congress — now Democrats have hit on the idea that they need to be both more ruthless and scream about the illegitimacy of every institution they do not control.

When the Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives, they complained about redistricting and sued. They lost at the Supreme Court this past year, but continue to fight gerrymandering they were fine with until it worked against them.

Now they’ve failed to beat Brett Kavanaugh, so the legitimacy of the Supreme Court is at stake. Because the Senate did confirmed Kavanaugh, the Senate is illegitimate too. After all, they believe they hype that they’re the majority party and, being a party of identity politics, they are also the party of victimhood. They’re victims of the system, victims of a ruthless opposition, victims of dirty tricks, etc. — with no accountability for their own behavior, just a media echo chamber that nods along sympathetically.

To be fair to Democrats, the truth is that population wise, they have an argument. However, if we subtracted California from the popular vote, Donald Trump would have won the popular vote. And therein lies the problem for the Democrats. They’re making a popular vote argument in a country whose founders were deeply suspicious of the popular vote. The founders systematically put in place checks on the majority, which they viewed as a mob.

Democrats are, in other words, not actually the majority party in the American political system. They certainly used to be. They were the party of varied and diverse coalitions and the GOP was the party of tax cuts, anti-Soviets, and pro-lifers. But in the past decade, the role has reversed. The Democrats have become so much more ideological because the party itself has become smaller and more isolated. People are now far more likely to find a pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage Republican than a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage Democrat simply because the Democrats no longer are a majority party of a broad coalition. That is the GOP now. In fact, part of the GOP’s current problems and disruptions is having to accommodate so many varied people and ideas within their big tent.

For the last thirty years, Republicans have been expanding their political operations down to the local level across the country while Democrats have focused on elite donors, Hollywood celebrities, and city dwellers. The results speak for themselves.

  • Republicans control 31 State Houses compared to 18 Democrat State Houses.
  • Republicans control 36 State Senates compared to 14 Democrat State Senates.
  • Republicans control 33 Governor’s Mansions compared to 16 Democrat Governor’s Mansions.
  • Republicans control 29 Lt. Governor seats compared to 13 Democrat Lt. Governor seats.
  • Republicans control 27 State Attorneys General compared to 22 Democrat Attorneys General.
  • Republicans control 29 State Secretaries of State compared to 16 Democrat Secretaries of State.
  • Republicans control the gubernatorial seat and the legislature in 26 states compared to just 8 for the Democrats.
  • Republicans control the House of Representatives.
  • Republicans control the United States Senate.
  • Republicans control the White House.

This will change in November. Democrats will win significantly and take back some chambers and some gubernatorial seats. That does not mean their overall position has changed. Democrats have spent the last thirty years playing a political game for a different political system. Inside a bubble with a built in echo chamber that favors progressive thought, they couldn’t see what was coming. They decided everyone around them agreed with them and forgot they still had to have coalitions to reach outside their bubbles. The result is a party that cannot win in a system designed around 50 semi-sovereign states.

As a result, they now have to scream illegitimacy. But it is not our problem they decided to play a political game outside the American rulebook. They did this to themselves. They should sue their own consultants for malpractice. They marginalized themselves, relegating themselves to urban areas with some suburbs thrown in depending on how far afield a particular Republican goes. And the situation continues to deteriorate for them long term even as their short term looks like they may see gains.

Pay attention to heavily hispanic districts in the border states where Democrats should be crushing it. But they are not. The GOP is actually very competitive in these districts despite expectations. Why? Because legal hispanic voters, over the long term, tend to identify as both white and Republican. Those hispanic voters who haven’t gotten to that point are rushing there now as the Democrats engage in a culture war that alienates everyone expect the most progressive voters in urban areas.

The Democrats’ short term election prospects may look okay for the House of Representatives where redistricting in Pennsylvania, jungle primaries in California, and women in swing districts turning against the President have helped them. But one election cycle is not a systematic shift towards the Democrats. For that, they need to play within the rules of the American system, not scare off more people by demanding to blow up the system and get more ruthless.

Instead, they’ll probably read this entire piece while curled up in the fetal position muttering “one man, one vote, man.”

About the author

Erick Erickson
By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

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