By Jonathon Van Maren
As I noted yesterday, there was a lot of good news on election night. Over at The Week, Democrat Damon Linker wrote a scathing analysis titled “The Left Just Got Crushed,” and his take should encourage all conservatives as we await the final presidential results:
[Biden] is on track to be a weak, ineffectual president governing at the mercy of Mitch McConnell’s Machiavellian machinations. So much for the Democratic fantasy — the one that seemingly never dies — of unobstructed rule. Democrats didn’t just want to win and govern in the name of a deeply divided nation’s fractured sense of the common good. No, they wanted to lead a moral revolution, to transform the country — not only enacting a long list of new policies, but making a series of institutional changes that would entrench their power far into the future. Pack the Supreme Court. Add left-leaning states. Break up others to give the left huge margins in the Senate. Get rid of the Electoral College. Abolish the police. Rewrite the nation’s history, with white supremacy and racism placed “at the very center.” Ensure “equity” not just in opportunity but in outcomes. Hell, maybe they’d even establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to teach everyone who voted for or supported the 45th president just how evil they really are…
Yes, Trump and the Republican cheerleading section online and on cable news and talk radio harped on every extreme proposal. But this wasn’t just a function of the fallacy of composition, where one loony activist says something off the wall and the GOP amplifies it far beyond reason in order to tar the opposition unfairly. These were prominent Democrats — progressive politicians, activists, and scholars and prize-winning journalists at leading cultural institutions — talking this way. Joe Biden himself usually did the smart thing and tried to distance himself from the most radical proposals. But in the end it wasn’t enough to mollify fears of an ascendant left hell bent on entrenching itself in power and enacting institutional reforms that would enable it to lead a moral, political, and cultural revolution.
And therein lies a paradox that should be obvious but apparently isn’t: Democrats live in a country with a large, passionate opposition. Arrogant talk of demographic inevitabilities and transformative changes to lock Republicans out of power in the name of “democracy” has the effect of inspiring that opposition to unite against them, rendering political success less assured and more tenuous.
There will be no court packing. No added states. Nothing from the toxic progressive-fantasy wishlist will come anywhere close to passing. Instead, we will have grinding, obstructive gridlock. Some will demand that Biden push through progressive priorities by executive order. But every time he does — like every incident of urban rioting and looting, every effort to placate the left-wing “Squad” in the House, every micro-targeted identity-politics box-checking display of intersectional moral preening and finger-wagging — the country will move closer to witnessing a conservative backlash that results in Republicans taking control of the House and increasing their margin in the Senate in November 2022, rendering the Biden administration even more fully dead in the water.
In short, Linker says, it is time for the Democrats to realize that half of America cannot simply be crushed—and that this election, with its “blue wave” that never came, is a stunning repudiation of the revolution Democrats desperately want to unleash:
So please, Democrats, look in the mirror and show a little humility. You’re not nearly as self-evidently wonderful or widely loved as you’d like to believe. You are not destined to prevail anywhere. You share a country with a large group of people who hate your guts, and who aren’t going to submit to your rule or go along with your giddy plans to remake the nation in your image. It’s time to start acting like you understand this implacable fact and all it implies about the limits of your power and the parameters of the possible. American politics is a war of attrition right now. The sooner Democrats learn to live with that fact, the better.
There is a growing consensus in the media that Democrat plans for America have been foiled. As Bloomberg put it, “many of the fondest hopes of [Biden’s] party and darkest fears of his opponents will be unrealized.” Having failed to retake the Senate (and lost ground in the House), “every inch of liberal legislative gains will be an uphill struggle. Court packing is dead. If the 6-3 Republican advantage on the Supreme Court changes, it will have to be the old-fashioned way.”
Over at The American Conservative, Rod Dreher put it this way:
This election was a massive repudiation of Wokeness and identity politics. It should give conservative politicians the courage to go on the attack against it within institutions. If Trump holds the executive branch, the Justice Department, the EEOC, the Education Department, and others ought to put the fear of God into the likes of Smith College and Woke Capitalists. Despite what Stacey Abrams and other leading Democrats want to believe, there can be no illusion that the future of America is identity politics.
Rusty Reno over at First Things agrees, noting that populism has prevailed, and that an extraordinary opportunity for new GOP coalitions exists so long as conservatives learn the right lessons from the last four years:
2016 shocked our leaders. Whatever the final outcome, this week reminds us that a substantial portion of the American electorate—enough to put a man in the White House—no longer takes guidance from our cultural and political establishment. As a consequence, these Americans are disenfranchised—not in an electoral sense (Trump may end up winning), but in a cultural and ideological sense. As the last four years have shown, this substantial element of the electorate is deprived of a richly elaborated and coordinated social and political agenda by which to focus their anger and frustration… This is likely to remain the case. Which means that when Trump leaves the scene (whether in January 2021 or after a second term), a vast body of voters will remain available for Republican politicians who are willing to venture beyond the safety of elite-authorized views. The task for intellectuals and activists on the right is to craft a vision for the future of the country—one that addresses rather than ignores the reasons why so many voters chose someone thoroughly opposed by the Great and the Good.
I’ll reiterate what I said yesterday: I feel good about what happened the election thus far. All of the Doomsday scenarios appear to have been averted—the Equality Act, the expansion of the Supreme Court, enshrining Roe v. Wade in statute, and so on. The judges entrenched by Trump both on the Supreme Court and elsewhere are lifetime appointments, and even if Biden does what he can with executive orders (if he is elected), he’ll be prevented from doing permanent damage that cannot be undone by a future Republican president which, despite Democrat promises that demography is destiny, is possible, if not likely.
On Monday, many of us were poised for the Democrats to unleash a moral revolution. The Democrats were certainly hoping to do so—but the American people stopped them in their tracks.
Check out my conversation with Mary Eberstadt on the election and American politics overall:
15 thoughts on “The American people just halted the Democrats’ moral revolution”
All things considered, not a bad showing. And it’s telling how many articles have come out lamenting the prospects of filibuster reform, adding new states, and packing the court – proving that, in fact, the Democrats very much planned to do all of that were they to win full control of government. Enough people went “hey, wait a minute” to deny them outright victory.
All that being said, now is not the time to get complacent. We’re not entirely out of the woods quite yet. A Senate that’s 50-50 + Kamala (now the worst-case scenario) wouldn’t be likely to nuke the filibuster and pass radical legislation (there’s still one moderate Democrat in the chamber), but it could conceivably get rid of the Hyde Amendment (which has saved 2.4 million lives) through budget reconciliation. It would also put them in a stronger position for the 2022 midterms, and give them the chance to replace a conservative Supreme Court justice should something terrible happen. All pro-lifers should donate to Senators Loeffler and Perdue to ensure they win the runoffs in Georgia.
Just to be clear, your hopes are pinned on two individuals accused of insider trading based on secret COVID-19 pandemic briefings they received as part of their elected / appointed post.
Plus Loeffler is apparently associated with a Qanon promoter, Perdue ran racist ads and mocked the Vice President elect’s name.
Just so we know who is being promoted as the last hope for Republicans. Perhaps morals would be better placed elsewhere?
It isn’t about the individuals in this instance. It’s only about having a counter-balance to Biden’s executive power, preventing court-packing and the Equality Act.
They were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee. Qanon is more of a silly internet meme than something people actually believe in (I mean they said JFK Jr is still alive and is secretly Trump’s running mate? C’mon…). Loeffler’s opponent is a Fidel Castro/Jeremiah Wright stan that believes police departments are controlled by white supremacists, a conspiracy theory that’s gotten 25 people killed and caused $1,000,000,000+ of damage this year. Perdue withdrew and apologized for the anti-Semetic ad that had been produced by an outside agency. Notably, his opponent got trolled on Twitter into proposing to his girlfriend so he could win the last election he ran in (though he still lost).
There is a significant difference between being “cleared” and a finding that no federal criminal laws were breached (the latter being what happened here).
I really hate to break it to you, but the FBI has been worried about White Supremacist infiltration of law enforcement for almost 15 years now:
It is not a conspiracy theory – its a fact.
Plus, it is interesting that you would malign a pastor (Warnock) if he doesn’t fit your political views.
I don’t disagree with you that Qanon is rubbish – but that doesn’t stop people from diving in deep. Don’t forget – a guy actually stormed the pizza parlour around which pizzagate was formed, only to find that it didn’t have a basement in which to store the alleged child trafficking victims.
Here’s your choice: two people that were investigated by the DOJ and ethics committees for insider trading allegations (although cleared), one of which contracted with an ad agency and allowed an antisemetic ad to air, vs a pastor and an investigative journalist.
It is up to the people of Georgia to decide who their morals can allow them to vote for.
We just can’t pretend Republicans are perfect individuals.
The Senate Ethics Committee deals with all improprieties, even those that don’t violate criminal law. Ethics generally involves a higher standard of behaviour than simply not breaking the law.
The FBI having concerns about a potential threat (white supremacists attempting to join police departments) is not the same as saying it’s actually a widespread, systemic problem. Being a pastor does not put someone above political criticism, especially if it involves embracing vicious dictators and conspiracy theorists.
Navi, I ran out of space in our prior thread, so here’s a new one.
Huh, your problem embracing vicious dictators is interesting and probably needs a source. If you’re referring to the following Fox article, I would need an explanation of how Warnock is tied to that, given no confirmation of his attendance at the Fidel event and his lack of decision making authority at that time. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/warnock-church-fidel-castro-1995.
Plus, we have the following articles you need to contend with.
The white supremacy issue is far more than a conspiracy theory, as indicated in this article: https://theintercept.com/2017/01/31/the-fbi-has-quietly-investigated-white-supremacist-infiltration-of-law-enforcement/.
“Norm Stamper, a former chief of the Seattle Police Department and vocal advocate for police reform, told The Intercept that white supremacy was not simply a matter of history. “There are police agencies throughout the South and beyond that come from that tradition,” he said. “To think that that kind of thinking has dissolved somehow is myopic at best.”
Stamper said he had fired officers who expressed racist views, but added, “It’s not likely to happen in most police departments, because many of those departments come from a tradition of saying the officer is entitled to his or her opinions.” Whether the First Amendment protects an officer’s right to express racist, white supremacist views — or even to associate with organizations that endorse those views — is something that remains a subject of debate, Stamper said. “You can fire someone. Whether the termination will stand up under review is the real question.”
“Local, state, federal agencies, all to some extent have their hands tied, because it’s not necessarily against the law to be a member of a domestic hate group” said Simi, noting the military as the one exception because of its unique legal status. For instance, the U.S. government considers the KKK a hate group — but membership in the group is not illegal. That’s the case for all domestic hate or extremist groups, though authorities can choose to target their members under conspiracy statutes, Simi said.
Most police departments don’t screen prospective officers for hate group affiliation. The SPLC has reported that the number of these groups peaked at more than 1,000 in 2011, from less than half that in the late 1990s, though experts like Simi note that many of these groups “come and go” and membership between them is often fluid.”
Plus, I think it is interesting that you feel a conspiracy theory is sufficient reason not to vote for a democratic candidate but insufficient reason to not vote for a republican candidate.
I think that if Kelly Loeffler was a pastor in some capacity for a church that gave a platform to David Duke or Richard Spencer, saying that she had no “decision making authority at that time” wouldn’t quite cut it. Trump has been widely criticized for sucking up to dictators, and that is absolutely fair game. I’m not sure why an outgoing lame duck president is relevant to the election in January. I never brought him up.
Considering that white supremacist groups were only able to get about a dozen people to show up when they marched in 2018, police officers generally resemble the communities they represent, and there is no evidence at all that white supremacists have actually been able to infiltrate police departments it looks like a conspiracy theory. In general, the demand for white supremacists seems to greatly exceed the supply.
You brought up conspiracy theories in the first place, not me. My main points were about the Hyde Amendment, the filibuster and packing the Supreme Court (the latter two not being an immediate concern, but could become a very serious issue if Democrats can make enough gains in 2022 – the bigger the hole they have to get out of, the better).
Well, the Republican party is the party of Trump at the moment and, while ballots are secret, I have a hard time imagining you voted for Biden. As such, it is not good argument to apply standards to one side only.
You mention the 2018 DC white supremacist rally to limit the number of white supremacists to dozens. Except, a year earlier, we had Charlottesville, where there were a lot more than dozens of white supremacists, one of which was willing to drive his car into pedestrians, killing one and injuring 30 (I believe).
You’re right, I brought up conspiracy theories – because I believe that promotion or believe in them should be disqualified from elected office. Lest you think Qanon has no power, two believers were elected to Congress, one from Georgia. https://www.rollcall.com/2020/11/05/qanon-goes-to-washington-two-supporters-win-seats-in-congress/
You’re entitled to your political agenda – I just wanted to clear the air around the individuals you are supporting.
I didn’t vote for either candidate, as I was not eligible to vote in the 2020 election. Yes, white supremacists had a very brief renaissance in 2016-2017 before becoming completely marginalized again just a year later (the Atlantic recently documented their rise and fall in its new “White Noise” documentary). It is interesting that Richard B. Spencer, the guy that founded the Unite the Right rallies, is now a straight-ticket Democratic voter.
Neither Georgia senator has endorsed Qanon.
I think you are entirely too optimistic about white supremacy being marginalized, but we will have to see what happens in the future.
I see you’re willing to take Richard Spencer at his word – I’m not sure that’s a safe assumption.
He posted a picture of his ballot on Twitter.
I can’t find a picture of Richard Spencer’s ballot – do you mind linking that?
He posted it on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RichardBSpencer/status/1323755888667103232
You know, Navi, it seems you were a little premature in your assessment of Sen David Purdue’s stock trades. It seems that there is a lot more out there and a lot more stink of insider trading then even I was aware of.
In my humble opinion, this ought to give you pause.