Dictatorial Government takes a Beating

When an incumbent Democrat loses the governorship of a state famous (infamous?) for voting irregularities (fill in the blank) -- yes, I mean Illinois -- several explanations are possible: (a) Democrat vote fraud woefully “underperformed”; (b) the Republican candidate ran a better campaign; (c) voters were fed up with machine politics; (d) the incumbent’s policies were deemed highly objectionable; (e) all of the above.

I’m inclined to think (a) is implausible. Democrats knew perfectly well what was at stake Tuesday and that they were on the defensive, despite what some polls were showing. It was not that difficult to figure out there would be a ripple effect across the country from the president’s sinking approval ratings, placing all Democrats in jeopardy and not just incumbents. I am quite certain that party leaders went into overdrive weeks in advance to see if they could affect outcomes by hook and by crook. Whoever was put in charge of schemes to steal votes is now scrambling to do an analysis of why things went “wrong” -- I mean, why things went as they should go in a free and fair election. That individual is probably a consultant of some sort whose parent company wants to keep Democrat money flowing, so I’m sure they’ll send the DNC a report that includes “suggestions for improvement.” The GOP cannot afford to ignore such skullduggery just because they won this Tuesday. Voter ID laws and other precautions must go forward. A likely presidential veto must be overridden.

Factors (b) and (d) undoubtedly were involved but are unconvincing if the goal is to produce an explanation that goes beyond results in a given state. As Obama proved twice, Democrats are better than Republicans at running political campaigns. In many cases, there was nothing especially egregious about the policies of a specific Democrat as such; only by association with the national-level policies of the president. So, let’s look at (c).

What it means to be fed up with machine politics is simply this: Americans do not want a country run by dictators. That’s exactly how Harry Reid ran the Senate as majority leader, blocking much-needed legislation or tossing it into the trash without a second glance. That’s exactly how President “I have a pen and a phone” Obama has been governing, issuing one executive order after another as he saw fit, circumventing the Republican-controlled House and flouting the concept of democracy itself. America is not a banana republic to be run by a caudillo.

Put it another way. Suppose, counterfactually: (a) the economy was in good shape; (b) the administration managed foreign policy reasonably well; and (c) the president had a respectable approval rating. On the other hand, keep everything else essentially the same: (d) in the Senate, the majority leader, a Democrat, runs the chamber with an iron fist, refusing to advance legislation sent over by the Republican-controlled House; (e) the president, frustrated with Republicans, takes unilateral action by means of executive orders and the appointment of unaccountable “czars.” The question is whether this week's results would have happened anyway.

I believe so. Democrats lost big this year because they are seen, correctly, as the party of dictatorial government, of machine politics. Worse, the strong link between Democrats and unions, e.g., in Wisconsin, comes across as a “dictatorship of the proletariat,” which is fine in Cuba and North Korea but not here. Americans intensely dislike submission to authority even if it’s in their best interest. Americans fundamentally don’t want to be told what to do. Politicians who ignore our natural propensity for rugged individualism eventually get shown the door. It was utterly delusional for Harry Reid to think he could get away with playing dictator in the Senate. Even members of his own party began to grumble.

If my thesis is on the right track, Tuesday's results mean serious trouble for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Her inflexible, take-no-prisoners personality, a total opposite from that of her husband, is well known. Mrs. Clinton doesn’t “go with the flow.” Her temper was on appalling display as she yelled at senators asking reasonable questions about Benghazi, “What difference at this point does it make?” The only thing she didn’t do is take off her shoe and bang the desk the way Nikita Khrushchev did at the UN.     

As anyone in her inner circle will tell you, it’s her way or the highway. It’s bad enough for a man to behave that way. A woman who does that will make men feel, well, emasculated. Bill Clinton’s “bimbo eruptions”, though morally questionable, can be interpreted as a way of protecting his masculinity from Hillary’s rigid, overbearing personality. To put it bluntly, America needs a commander-in-chief, not a dominatrix-in-chief -- except maybe in certain parts of San Francisco.

I remain unconvinced that Hillary Clinton will be leading the Democrat ticket after Tuesday. It will have to be someone who is unlike her and also unlike Obama, someone who demonstrably respects the Constitution, someone who can convince Americans they won’t be living in a banana republic. Does such a Democrat even exist? Not among those currently in the limelight.