Contrary to most predictions, Election Day brought no blue wave. While former Vice President Joe Biden won the presidency, it looks like the Republicans will keep the Senate. Even more surprisingly, the Democrats appear to be on the verge of losing as many as 13 seats in the House of Representatives. If this proves to be the case, it would be the smallest House majority for any party since 1919.
The electorate’s rejection of the Democratic agenda in the legislature actually makes it somewhat surprising that the Democrats won back the White House. As a result, the blame game is afoot among our friends on the left.
Those in the progressive wing of the Democratic party are accusing their more moderate colleagues of being inept at running campaigns, while the relatively few centrist Dems are complaining about their progressive colleagues’ open embrace of socialism.
Yet it’s possible that the problem is precisely that traditional Democrats have not done enough to put as much light as possible between them and the party’s progressives.
While serious people acknowledge the real problems that infect today’s criminal justice system, for example, sloganeering to “Defund the Police” scares away more than a few voters. Further, use of the word “socialism” cannot but hurt Democrats outside of college towns and upscale urban locales such as Brooklyn.
Reporting on comments made by Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, the New York Times wrote, “The ‘average white person,’ Mr. Gonzalez added, may associate socialism with Nordic countries, but to Asian and Hispanic migrants it recalls despotic ‘left-wing regimes.’ ” Exactly. And House Democrats’ uncritical embrace of the Green New Deal likely stirred justified worries among voters about the astronomical future costs of their energy bills.
Voters also understand that because Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., believed a blue wave was inevitable, she refused to compromise and accept a deal offered by the White House for a second stimulus agreement. She couldn’t accept less than her $2.2 trillion deal, which included proposals with many of the traditional Democratic handouts to special interests.
Despite her insistence that pesky Republicans are to blame for not letting her have her complete way — and despite many in the traditional media echoing her self-serving message — voters understand that half a stick of gum is better than no gum at all, and thanks to Pelosi, no gum is exactly what they got.
Voters are often rationally ignorant; however, some of them still may have noticed the slew of House votes that would leave them with less money in their bank accounts, less control of their lives and higher cost-of-living expenses for years to come. As the Wall Street Journal reminded us this week, House Democrats “voted for huge new tax increases, vast new spending, a gradual end to fossil fuels, and the most radical labor agenda since 1935.”
For more evidence that the voters’ lack of enthusiasm for progressive policies likely explains the Democrats’ reduced majority in the House, one should consider this election’s down-ballot outcomes. Illinois and California, two of the most progressive states in the Union, provide good examples. In Illinois, voters rejected by a 55 to 45 percent margin the so-called Fair Tax Amendment. That progressive tax scheme would have amended the state constitution to replace the flat income tax with a progressive one.
In California, some serious progressive dreams to steal more freedom from people were crushed. Proposition 22, for instance, saved Californians from an attempt by regulators to upend the digital platform economy by forcing the industry’s companies to reclassify independent contractors as full-time employees. Voters disallowed cities to impose rent control and rejected a massive property-tax increase with Prop. 15.
In more fiscally sound states, voters took some power away from the legislature. For instance, Colorado voters adopted Prop. 117, closing a loophole in the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which subjects tax hikes to voter approval but not fees.
Sure, on election night, it wasn’t all sunshine and free-market victories. Voters also approved bad policies, such as Florida’s minimum wage increase to $15 per hour and spending initiatives all over the country, even in states where they rejected tax increases.
But the overwhelming message from election night is unmistakable: Americans are nowhere close to swallowing the false promises and absurd fantasies of the radical Left.
Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. To find out more about Veronique de Rugy and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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