Democrats: Back to Square One

Tuesday last week’s election, in which Republicans won, virtually across the board, taught Americans, of every political persuasion, a great number of lessons.

What it taught this American is that some train wrecks actually can be fun to watch, especially when the engineer is Casey Obama, pulling a trainload of Democrats.

On the positive side – for liberals, that is – MSNBC most likely experienced a ratings surge (from sub-sub cellar to sub-cellar) as conservatives gleefully tuned in to the network of choice for watching liberal Democratic crackups.  In the spirit of bipartisanship, let us conservatives work hard to help Maddow, Sharpton, Matthews, et al. enjoy a similar ratings boost in 2016.

And for us conservatives, it looks like we no longer need to ask even most Democrats “how the hope-changey stuff is working out” for them.  By now, with the apparent exceptions of Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and the talking heads at the aforementioned cable network, they know.

Pity, then, the Democrats (but please, not too much; remember how they treated us over the past six years), for 2014 was the year that none of their go-to tactics or issues worked for them.  Not the vaunted Democratic get-out-the-vote ground game…

… not immigration…

… not even the “war on women.”

And all of which failures have left a lot of Democrats scratching their heads and asking each other, “Wha’ happened?”

What happened was a second Obamaesque “shellacking,” even more severe than the first one, in 2010.  Apparently, someone forgot to tell the electorate that the fist is supposed to go inside the velvet glove, not the other way around.

As for what caused such shellacking, the explanation, for this writer, is a simple one of supply and demand – namely, in this case, a surplus of shellac and a shortage of tar and feathers.

Liberals, of course, will disagree, and indeed, it did not take long, as Tuesday night progressed, the election results came in, and the true dimension of the beating increasingly became known, for the liberal blogosphere to erupt into a cacophony of rationalizations, recriminations and lamentations – your basic circular firing squad, but this time with Barack Obama in the middle.

What one should not expect from our dear friends on the left is the truth, which is that, on Tuesday, the voters rejected not just President Obama or any individual candidate, but liberalism itself – statism, political correctness, and multiculturalism at home; peace through appeasement abroad; big government, à la Reagan, as the solution to, not the cause of, our problems – the whole philosophical enchilada.  Obama ran as a centrist, he’s governing as a hardcore ideological leftist, and Tuesday’s election results should be read as nothing less than a collective cry of no más.

Not that most Americans’ aversion to liberalism and the resultant problems for Democrats is anything new.  Does anyone remember the Democratic Leadership Council?  For those who don’t:

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) was a non-profit 501(c)(4) corporation founded in 1985 that, upon its formation, argued the United States Democratic Party should shift away from the leftward turn it took in the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  The DLC hailed President Bill Clinton as proof of the viability of Third Way politicians and as a DLC success story.

Or to state the matter more plainly, a group of moderate Democrats created the DLC in order to “move the party to the center” and convince the American people that not only that the DLC’s founders and members had rejected liberalism, but that most of the Democratic Party had, too.

And it worked.  Bill Clinton was, indeed, a “DLC success story,” right up until the moment, shortly after taking office, when he betrayed the voters who had just elected him, by governing from the left.  Conversely, he reclaimed the centrist mantle when, after his liberal policies, including Obamacare’s predecessor, Hillarycare, cost him the House and Senate in the ’94 midterms, he retuned to the center.  And stayed there.

The same strategy worked for Barack Obama, for a brief, shining moment, until he, too, governed as a liberal.  But, unlike Bill Clinton, not only did Obama not move to the center, after being “shellacked,” in his words, in the 2010 midterms.  He doubled down on his liberal proclivities, with predictable results: the implosion of his presidency and the tarnishing, perhaps for generations to come, of the Democratic brand.  The question of why the American people re-elected such a flawed and incompetent president I leave to the reader.  But that Obama is a flawed and incompetent president is undeniable, as is the damage he has done to his party.

Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, and Michael Dukakis lost their presidential bids and, Humphrey excepted, lost badly, for no other reason than that they were/are liberals.  Bill Clinton was elected precisely because he ran as a centrist and remained a political force to be reckoned with whenever and as long as he governed that way.  Obama, on the other hand, because he refused to move to the center, was an effective president only for the brief period that he had a House majority and a filibuster-proof Senate majority.

Assuming, then, that the predicted Democratic debacle comes to pass, the question, “post-shellacking,” becomes this: where does the Democratic Party go from here?

It goes back to square one.  America has rejected liberalism.  Repeatedly.  Only when Democrats were able to convince the American people that the party had rejected liberalism and moved to the center were they able, once more, to win a presidential election.  Only by actually governing from the center was Bill Clinton able to win a second term and to govern effectively.

Most important, only by receiving the American people’s message, loud and clear, when he strayed from the centrist path, was he able to enjoy a successful presidency, despite several scandals, and – most important – set the stage for the election of future Democratic presidents.  Sadly, the statement for which Bill Clinton will be most remembered is, “I did not have sex with that woman.”  But the most important thing he said – astounding, coming from a Democrat – was, “The era of big government is over.”

One would be hard-pressed to understate what Bill Clinton, Joe Lieberman, and the Democratic Leadership Council did for the Democratic Party – to restore the brand to the point where Democrats would, once more, be viable presidential candidates.

And now, thanks to Barack Obama, the Democrats must start all over.  For the Democratic Party, it’s back to square one, where Democrats must, once again, convince the American people that they are not the party of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi, but the party of…well…whom?

And any Democratic presidential candidate, going forward, who campaigns as a centrist will have to convince the American people that he will govern that way if elected.

Can it be done?  Time will tell.  But one thing is certain: the task, the second time around, will be much, much harder.

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice…

Follow Gene Schwimmer on Twitter.  Visit Gene at geneschwimmer.com.

Tuesday last week’s election, in which Republicans won, virtually across the board, taught Americans, of every political persuasion, a great number of lessons.

What it taught this American is that some train wrecks actually can be fun to watch, especially when the engineer is Casey Obama, pulling a trainload of Democrats.

On the positive side – for liberals, that is – MSNBC most likely experienced a ratings surge (from sub-sub cellar to sub-cellar) as conservatives gleefully tuned in to the network of choice for watching liberal Democratic crackups.  In the spirit of bipartisanship, let us conservatives work hard to help Maddow, Sharpton, Matthews, et al. enjoy a similar ratings boost in 2016.

And for us conservatives, it looks like we no longer need to ask even most Democrats “how the hope-changey stuff is working out” for them.  By now, with the apparent exceptions of Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and the talking heads at the aforementioned cable network, they know.

Pity, then, the Democrats (but please, not too much; remember how they treated us over the past six years), for 2014 was the year that none of their go-to tactics or issues worked for them.  Not the vaunted Democratic get-out-the-vote ground game…

… not immigration…

… not even the “war on women.”

And all of which failures have left a lot of Democrats scratching their heads and asking each other, “Wha’ happened?”

What happened was a second Obamaesque “shellacking,” even more severe than the first one, in 2010.  Apparently, someone forgot to tell the electorate that the fist is supposed to go inside the velvet glove, not the other way around.

As for what caused such shellacking, the explanation, for this writer, is a simple one of supply and demand – namely, in this case, a surplus of shellac and a shortage of tar and feathers.

Liberals, of course, will disagree, and indeed, it did not take long, as Tuesday night progressed, the election results came in, and the true dimension of the beating increasingly became known, for the liberal blogosphere to erupt into a cacophony of rationalizations, recriminations and lamentations – your basic circular firing squad, but this time with Barack Obama in the middle.

What one should not expect from our dear friends on the left is the truth, which is that, on Tuesday, the voters rejected not just President Obama or any individual candidate, but liberalism itself – statism, political correctness, and multiculturalism at home; peace through appeasement abroad; big government, à la Reagan, as the solution to, not the cause of, our problems – the whole philosophical enchilada.  Obama ran as a centrist, he’s governing as a hardcore ideological leftist, and Tuesday’s election results should be read as nothing less than a collective cry of no más.

Not that most Americans’ aversion to liberalism and the resultant problems for Democrats is anything new.  Does anyone remember the Democratic Leadership Council?  For those who don’t:

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) was a non-profit 501(c)(4) corporation founded in 1985 that, upon its formation, argued the United States Democratic Party should shift away from the leftward turn it took in the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  The DLC hailed President Bill Clinton as proof of the viability of Third Way politicians and as a DLC success story.

Or to state the matter more plainly, a group of moderate Democrats created the DLC in order to “move the party to the center” and convince the American people that not only that the DLC’s founders and members had rejected liberalism, but that most of the Democratic Party had, too.

And it worked.  Bill Clinton was, indeed, a “DLC success story,” right up until the moment, shortly after taking office, when he betrayed the voters who had just elected him, by governing from the left.  Conversely, he reclaimed the centrist mantle when, after his liberal policies, including Obamacare’s predecessor, Hillarycare, cost him the House and Senate in the ’94 midterms, he retuned to the center.  And stayed there.

The same strategy worked for Barack Obama, for a brief, shining moment, until he, too, governed as a liberal.  But, unlike Bill Clinton, not only did Obama not move to the center, after being “shellacked,” in his words, in the 2010 midterms.  He doubled down on his liberal proclivities, with predictable results: the implosion of his presidency and the tarnishing, perhaps for generations to come, of the Democratic brand.  The question of why the American people re-elected such a flawed and incompetent president I leave to the reader.  But that Obama is a flawed and incompetent president is undeniable, as is the damage he has done to his party.

Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, and Michael Dukakis lost their presidential bids and, Humphrey excepted, lost badly, for no other reason than that they were/are liberals.  Bill Clinton was elected precisely because he ran as a centrist and remained a political force to be reckoned with whenever and as long as he governed that way.  Obama, on the other hand, because he refused to move to the center, was an effective president only for the brief period that he had a House majority and a filibuster-proof Senate majority.

Assuming, then, that the predicted Democratic debacle comes to pass, the question, “post-shellacking,” becomes this: where does the Democratic Party go from here?

It goes back to square one.  America has rejected liberalism.  Repeatedly.  Only when Democrats were able to convince the American people that the party had rejected liberalism and moved to the center were they able, once more, to win a presidential election.  Only by actually governing from the center was Bill Clinton able to win a second term and to govern effectively.

Most important, only by receiving the American people’s message, loud and clear, when he strayed from the centrist path, was he able to enjoy a successful presidency, despite several scandals, and – most important – set the stage for the election of future Democratic presidents.  Sadly, the statement for which Bill Clinton will be most remembered is, “I did not have sex with that woman.”  But the most important thing he said – astounding, coming from a Democrat – was, “The era of big government is over.”

One would be hard-pressed to understate what Bill Clinton, Joe Lieberman, and the Democratic Leadership Council did for the Democratic Party – to restore the brand to the point where Democrats would, once more, be viable presidential candidates.

And now, thanks to Barack Obama, the Democrats must start all over.  For the Democratic Party, it’s back to square one, where Democrats must, once again, convince the American people that they are not the party of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi, but the party of…well…whom?

And any Democratic presidential candidate, going forward, who campaigns as a centrist will have to convince the American people that he will govern that way if elected.

Can it be done?  Time will tell.  But one thing is certain: the task, the second time around, will be much, much harder.

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice…

Follow Gene Schwimmer on Twitter.  Visit Gene at geneschwimmer.com.