Democrats in denial as Trump triumphs
With just a few days left in 2017, President Trump has signed the tax legislation that marks his first major legislative victory since becoming president. It is undoubtedly his biggest achievement to date, but it is by no means the only one. After two consecutive quarters of over 3% GDP growth, the New York Fed is now predicting a fourth-quarter rate of 4%. It is worth remembering here that no less an authority than the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted economic growth of 2.2% in 2017, 2% in 2018, and 1.5% thereafter.
Democratic pundits have long ridiculed as utterly impossible Trump's election promises of 3% growth. Add to this the lowest unemployment rate (4.1%) in 17 years, 1.7 million new jobs, 12 new conservative appeals court judges appointed (versus three judges for Obama in his first year), and 22 regulations rolled back for every new one introduced, and you have an impressive conservative achievement even before the tax cuts legislation, which explains the huge stock market gains and the unprecedented business optimism across the land.
On that background, it is unprecedented but not surprising that, for the first time ever, not a single Democrat voted for the tax cuts that in the past had often been a bipartisan issue. In the last great tax reform by Ronald Reagan in 1986, for instance, 33 Senate democrats and 41 Republicans voted to pass the measure. This, then, is the crux of modern American politics, and it explains not only what happened over the past year, but what's likely to happen over the next few years.
Stated simply, American politics has become much more ideological on both sides of the spectrum. There are very few liberals left in the GOP and few if any moderates still in the Democratic party. The change has been particularly profound in the Democratic Party. From a party with strong roots in the white working class and the South, it has been transformed into a crypto-socialist party that professes anti-American tribalism, dubbed "identity" politics, as its guiding ideology and subscribes wholesale to the anti-market and anti-private property verities of the hard-left environmental movement, whose main if not only ambition is to destroy capitalism. This to the absurd point where President Obama declared "global warming" the greatest strategic threat facing the United States.
This explains the sad transformation of the Democratic Party, but it does not account fully for the visceral hatred Democrats feel for Donald Trump. To understand that, we need to go back in politics a decade or so. At the time, it had become clear that the Democrats had captured fully the academia, the mainstream press, and the government unions, to say nothing of traditional identity clients like minorities, homosexuals, single women etc. Then came Obama's decisive victory twice in a row, interpreted by the cognoscenti as the ultimate confirmation of identity politics rather than as the heartfelt desire by most Americans to be rid once and for all of the slavery stigma.
It was easy in those circumstances to feel that the Democrats had won the ideological battle for good and would be in power for at least "40 more years," as Democrat pundit James Carville and many other party triumphalists argued. "Republicans should not be worried," advised Carville gently in The Telegraph. "They should be in agony. They should be throwing up."
Then along comes a political klutz named Donald J. Trump and defeats the anointed. How could that be when Washington, D.C. voted for Hilary by a margin of 90% to 4%, and so did every other hotspot of identity politics?
Today, a year later, they are still in denial. And so they spin the tax cut that will refund real money to 80% of working Americans as a conspiracy in favor of the rich. Come to think of it, with the top 1% paying 27% of all taxes and the bottom 80% only 33%, this may not be a bad idea. We can only hope our Democratic friends stay in denial at least until the midterms in 2018.
Alex Alexiev is chairman of the Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies (cbbss.org). He tweets on national security at twitter.com/alexieff and could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.