With just over two weeks until the November midterm elections, Democrats have found themselves championing two specific issues in the run-up to the elections – amnesty for illegal aliens and federal regulation of health care.
This all has prompted me to wonder...does anyone remember that these were precisely the two central issues of the 2014 midterm elections?
Border security took center stage in the summer of 2014, as tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors were sent northward from Central America. Democrats were emboldened, then, by the perceived rightward shift of the Republican Party, as House majority leader Eric Cantor was ousted in the Virginia primary for his pro-amnesty position. Even Brit Hume was prompted to observe that "Republicans will go forward into the 2016 election without their name associated with immigration reform which will make it very difficult for any Republican to become president."
That observation hasn't aged well, given that Donald Trump, now sitting in the Oval Office, largely centered his campaign on border security and against any form of blanket amnesty. Ann Coulter wrote an entire book about it.
And Obamacare was also the hot topic of the day in 2014, if you'll remember, as Democrats rallied the troops around thwarting a potential Republican Congress, which would destroy Barack Obama's landmark achievement. The problem was that Obamacare was wildly unpopular, as Obama's promise that "you could keep your doctor" contrasted poorly with Americans' experience. By the millions, they lost their health insurance plans, only to be left with the costly (and incredibly limited) Obamacare health insurance plans. Those who "kept" their policies and their doctors faced skyrocketing premiums, and none was too happy about it.
In case you don't remember how that 2014 strategy worked out for Democrats, here's a refresher. It yielded Republicans the "largest number of legislative seats since before the Great Depression," a time so long ago and so averse to modern thought that Democrats could rely on the "Solid South" for a firm base of Democrat support.
There are differences between 2014 and now, of course. But they don't necessarily translate to a better outcome for Democrats this time around.
First of all, Democrats do not represent the preservation of Obamacare in 2018. They are pressing, more firmly than ever, a desire for a socialistic, government-funded and administrated "single-payer" healthcare overhaul – "Medicare for all," they're calling it today. Democrats are emboldened, certainly, by new polls which suggest a desire among the American people for such a federal government takeover of the health care industry.
But, as always, the devil's in the details when it comes to this election strategy and the general polling involved.
Seniors, aged 60 and up, historically vote in far greater numbers than any other age demographic. And it is seniors, more than any other demographic, that stand to lose the most care in a government-administrated health care system. The reason for this isn't mysterious, and it's fleshed out well by data when one observes other single-payer health care systems. When health care is a function of taxation, rather than either the amount paid for care, or health insurance premium to offset the cost of care, the government bean-counters divvying out the cash can quickly discern that senior citizens represent red on the ledger. While a hospital or a private insurance company might value the dollars that a senior citizen may provide for the care received, a government sees very little value in exchange for their having "provided" other contributing people's dollars for that senior citizen's care. Nonetheless, for our often income-strapped senior citizens, the prospect of a "death panel," or the denial of life-saving treatment in favor of "taking a painkiller," as Barack Obama once framed it, is a real and looming threat on the horizon.
Add to this that Americans in this elder age demographic constitute a larger number of voters than ever before, and are growing at a faster rate than ever before. This does not bode well at the polls, irrespective of how well it polls for media advocates of single-payer health care in America in 2018.
Then, there's the new influx of Central American refugees charging toward the American border for the promised land of job opportunities, but more importantly, the promised land of American welfare programs funded by American taxpayers. A caravan, which has reportedly grown to over 4,000 migrants from Central America, has now reached the Mexican border, and one Honduran immigrant has warned Mexico (and America): "We are going to the United States! Nobody is going to stop us!"
Democrats have embraced this as a humanitarian crisis, as they did in 2014, when more than 68,000 unaccompanied children were taken into custody by federal law enforcement. But what Democrats' seem to not understand is that this particular issue has a congealing effect, which serves to align the historic Democrat voting bloc, particularly of the blue wall, and free-market Republicans like me.
For example, I am not against a policy of robust immigration. Immigration can serve to reinforce competition in labor markets. It tightens labor markets that have become loose and uncompetitive, and this generally fosters an environment of economic growth, particularly in an increasingly global marketplace. The result is that the scarcity of goods and services that Americans desire is reduced, thereby making those things more affordable, and the quality of our lives is vastly improved in the process. What I firmly oppose is our massive, taxpayer-subsidized welfare state, which makes the playing field unlevel for millions of Americans by providing government-subsidized benefits to people who are not American citizens, who have broken our laws to even be here, and should not be afforded a dime of the benefits which are financed by American citizens and the economic largesse of our freer markets.
The average Democrat in the blue wall might see it a little differently. He might see the labor market as competing for a finite pool of wages, and the thousands of immigrants seeking to enter this country illegally as a threat to job security. A tight labor market, he might argue, is driving down American workers' wages while also extracting taxpayer-subsidized benefits.
Does it really matter that the blue wall Democrats and I don't agree on the fundamental economic principles involved in the immigration issue, but agree only that creating an unlevel playing field in labor markets by offering illegal aliens a government subsidy to undercut wages is a massive problem?
Democrats, and their newly radical election agenda to nationalize health care and open our borders to illegal invaders, are the shared problem of the largest demographic of voters in America and the historic base (as of four years ago) of Democrat voters, and the Republican base is energized to align with both of them against the radical Democrat agenda.
In the end, we don't know how November will play out. But given that Democrats' "Russia collusion" allegations have gone nowhere, that the Republican tax cuts have yielded a thriving economy and the lowest unemployment rate in almost 50 years, and that the attempted Kavanaugh derailment has heavily backfired against Democrats, the fact that Democrats have gone back to their 2014 playbook, and have begun running plays from it purely out of desperation, certainly signifies a better November for Republicans than I would have predicted a year ago.
William Sullivan blogs at Political Palaver and can be followed on Twitter.