The Democrats have spent much of Trump’s term convincing themselves that no one could possibly vote for his reelection. This left them so complacent it never occurred to them to find a real candidate to defeat Trump. They now find themselves saddled with the least electable candidates at the top of the race while the most ostensibly electable ones, so far, bite the dust.
In the 1980s, the Democrats responded to the success of Ronald Reagan by seeking to imitate him. They called themselves the New Democrats and formed groups such as the Democratic Leadership Council. These days such efforts could never get off the ground. Democrats have responded to the success of Trump not by imitating him but by simply hating him — and finding candidates diametrically opposed to everything he has done, no matter how obvious and justified.
Consequently, they find themselves with a front-runner, Bernie Sanders, whose idea of sound policy is letting prisoners vote from jail, erasing national borders, and subjecting the most successful economy in the world to a socialist shake-up.
Figures such as James Carville are complaining bitterly about the outré direction of the party. But their voices don’t count for much anymore. The once-countercultural wave within the party has become the culture, and Bernie hopes to ride it to victory. Even if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination, his expanding presence within the party is proof of its confusion. The party clearly has no interest in coherent governing. It has become a kind of college seminar in far-left ideologies — a competition to see who can come up with the zaniest “woke” ideas. The hapless Elizabeth Warren thought she had won it by proposing that “trans-children” select the next secretary of education. But the far-left lane was already clogged.
The upshot of all this nonsense is that Donald Trump not only enjoys control over the Right but can also poach many independents and some Democrats from the center. Just as the McGovernite direction of the party in the 1970s gave rise to Reagan Democrats, so today’s “woke” direction gives rise to closeted Trump supporters, some of whom come from formerly blue states.
Even the New York Times is reporting that Pennsylvania will go red if Sanders wins, owing to his proposed national ban on fracking. The Times quotes one Pennsylvania observer saying, “In Pennsylvania, you’re talking hundreds of thousands of related jobs that would be — they would be unemployed overnight. Pennsylvania is a margin play. And an outright ban on fracking isn’t a margin play.”
But many Democratic outlets are pooh-poohing such reports. They insist that Sanders is “electable” and “pragmatic.” Vox argues that on “the vast majority of issues, a Sanders administration would deliver pretty much the same policy outcomes as any other Democrat.” But if that is the case, what does that say about the state of the Democratic Party? That he has pulled the party so far to the left that he now defines the mainstream?
Delusion is the price that the party is paying for its Trump Derangement Syndrome. It treated plausible policy and electability as afterthoughts. The old adage — run to the left in the primaries and run to the center in the general election — won’t apply to Bernie. He will keep running left.
James Carville says that he doesn’t want the Dems to become the “British Labour Party.” But it is too late. It already is. On issues from climate change to partial-birth abortion, the only acceptable position within the party is the far-left one. Both the current front-runners, Sanders and Buttigieg, have told pro-life Democrats to get lost, that the exits of the party are clearly marked. Even feckless Joe Biden, who thought he could win by hiding from the media, has said in his pathetic, me-too manner, “I have the most progressive record of anybody running.”
The indisputable winner of the Democratic races so far has been Donald Trump, whose record of achievement exposes the apocalyptic rhetoric of the Democrats as shrill and silly. It is not the sanity of Donald Trump that is at issue now, but that of a party for whom the label “democratic socialist” has become mainstream.