Desperate Democrats face doom (2)
I almost feel sorry for the few remaining honest Democrats who actually believe that their party is something more than a coalition of angry interest groups solely interested in power for themselves at the expense of others. There used to be a lot of them, but they have been a species in rapid decline for decades. The presidency of Donald Trump almost finished them off, as the pathologies of Trump Derangement Syndrome caused formerly sensible people to surrender to hatred.
One of the smartest and most honest of the Dem deep thinkers is Ruy Teixeira, who gained prominence and honor for his forecast that demography would carry his party to a long-running majority in the 2002 book he co-authored, The Emerging Democratic Majority. After watching the GOP's gains among Hispanic and other minority voters, as well as working-class whites, Teixeira has been honest enough to admit that his forecast was flawed, as his party has raced to the left and has lost much of the ethnic support he had assumed was permanent.
Now, in a Substack article, Teixeira seems to have just about given up on his party's prospects in 2022 and is instead hoping it learns the lessons of rejection and reforms itself. The title tells the story: "Will the 2022 Election Be a Teachable Moment for the Democrats?"
But the sub-headline reveals that he is not optimistic:
It's Certainly Looking Like It Should Be
He opens with this:
How bad will the 2022 election be for the Democrats? In all likelihood, quite bad. Biden's approval rating is bad, his rating is worse on the most important issue, the economy, and it is truly terrible on high profile, contentious issues like crime and immigration. Democrats are behind on the generic Congressional ballot, despite the tendency of this measure to overestimate Democratic strength. The results of special and off-cycle elections indicate a very pro-GOP electoral environment. And midterm elections are typically bad for the incumbent party anyway.
So there are not a lot of good signs here. In fact, hardly any. The prospect of a very serious wipeout does seem plausible.
And he concludes with what must be called pessimism:
The Democrats could do worse than a return to the basics: we are all about getting the country back to normal. We are leaving covid behind by fully re-opening schools and businesses. We are doing everything we can to tame inflation including mobilizing all our energy resources, from oil and gas to renewables. And we are going to get crime and the border under control with tough but fair policies.
That would be a decent damage minimization approach. But realistically it will be difficult to get the party to speak with one voice on these issues and it is probably a bit late in the cycle for a thorough reset. Democrats may be better off accepting they will take their lumps in 2022 but use the election as a teachable moment.
That teachable moment should be, above all, about re-acquainting the party with the actually-existing demographics and politics of the country they live in. Given patterns of educational and geographical polarization, they are now at a crippling disadvantage in what remains an overwhelmingly working class and non-urban country. There are simply too many districts and states in the country where that polarization redounds to their disadvantage and makes them uncompetitive. That is not a problem that can be solved by "mobilizing the base". It calls instead for expanding your coalition by persuading more working class and non-urban voters you share their values and priorities.
It is either do that or brace yourself for a really bad 2024. And you know what that means.
Photo credit: Substack icon.