The Democrats' Unforced Errors
The good news for us conservatives and Republicans – even in California – is that the progressive Democrats are not anywhere near as smart as they tell us they are. They have made key unforced strategic errors in the past decade that have caused them to lose half of their legislative seats and governors' mansions across the states; significant chunks of their agenda; and, of course, the Grand Prize of them all, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
One major unforced strategic error was forcing Obamacare down the public's unwilling throats at midnight on Christmas Eve 2010 before passing their beloved Comprehensive Immigration Reform, or at least doing something about the ailing economy. They had made a promise to their captive ethnic voting bloc to pass immigration reform in exchange for those votes, and there were plenty of Republicans ready to go along with it, with ample goodwill left over for Obamacare. But whereas immigration reform for the Democrats was just a means to an end – the end of more votes for Democrats – socialized medicine was the centennial end itself, the Holy Grail: absolute power over our lives and deaths. Smelling that blood in the water, they couldn't help themselves. Screw the Republicans, screw the economy, screw our own mascots – we have Hillary's and Ted Kennedy's and Otto von Bismarck's dream within our reach. They went all in, damn the torpedoes.
They paid a price. As the inevitable consequences of Obamacare began their steady drip, drip, drip of bad news – increasing premiums; lengthening waiting lists; reduced choices; and explaining that when Obama said "like your doctor, keep your doctor," he was just talking about Facebook friends – the public's mood went from euphoric to despairing, and then to disillusion. As the real-life consequences of a lawless border coupled with a welfare state and an anemic economy hit more and more Americans, 2010 turned out to be the high water mark and a missed opportunity for progressive immigration policy. From the presumed moral high ground eight years ago, leftists are now playing a nasty game of defense, which they are losing.
But the defects in the Democratic strategy run deeper.
In 2008, they had a dream bench, an A-Team: a charismatic black candidate and a formidable female candidate. Which one should they run first? Obviously, obviously, duh! if they had ever really wanted Hillary, they should have run her in 2008. All else being equal, run the candidate with seniority. (That's just a good union rule that they know all too well.) The junior candidate may be groomed for the next cycle.
If the Democrats in 2008 had run a Clinton-Obama ticket, they would have swept the electoral college, achieved a one-two punch iconic watershed in American identity politics, and gotten Hillarycare enacted, and in all likelihood, Barack Obama would be president of the United States today through 2024.
But all else is not equal in the rigid, hierarchical, mentally ill ideology of the left, which in 2008 dictated that Race trumps Sex, and age doesn't matter because leftists are immortal. (By the way, I say "sex," not "gender," because we're talking about people, not grammar, and unlike the puritanical left, I'm not squeamish about sex.)
Not only did they miss their chance to elect Obama in 2016 by first electing Hillary in 2008, but they did it in a most self-destructive way. Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal has documented how the Democrats are not above using the dirty tricks and intimidation tactics they usually reserve for Republicans against each other. The 2008 primary campaign Barack vs. Hillary was vicious and nasty.
In 2016, the Democrats rigged their own primary to run an aging, feeble, sickly, and unlikeable candidate whom they themselves didn't really want, whom they nevertheless convinced themselves was inevitable and unbeatable. And she might have been unbeatable if the Republicans had done the expected thing and nominated the next-in-line heir to the Republican royal bloodline.
But by this time, there had been an inflection point in American politics, and what had appeared to many to be a joke turned out to be deadly serious. The American people had had enough. They didn't want another inevitable, entitled, and remote royal pretender. They wanted a fighter in the mold of General George S. Patton. And they found what they were looking for in Donald Trump.
So has the left learned its lessons from the last ten years of losses? If anything, leftists are more hysterical, irrational, anti-American, and ideologically driven than ever, and therein lies their weakness and our opportunity. Let them make fools of themselves, harping on fake scandals that would have taken Trump out in 2015 if they were ever going to. Let them shriek about Russian collusion, behavior unbecoming the decorum expected of a president, and imaginary mental unfitness. Let us cut tax rates and regulations, unleash our entrepreneurs, drain the swamp, root out the Deep State, secure the border, defend America's interests abroad, populate the Supreme Court with jurists who respect the plain words of the Constitution, repatriate the trillions of dollars of capital that has been parked offshore for a decade, get our citizens back to work, and grow our prosperity at home. Then, in 2025, we can once again have a polite gentleman president. Mike Pence will see to that.
Howard Hyde is a Fellow of the American Freedom Alliance and author of the book Escape from Berkeley: An EX-liberal progressive socialist embraces America (and doesn't apologize).