Lessons From an Unenduring Majority
"The Emerging Democratic Majority" didn't end up being so enduring.
A 2002 book, “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” posited, as the title suggests, an “enduring Democratic majority” in the wake of “permanent changes” to America’s demography. Co-authored by John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira, the book’s central idea – the heart of the Emerging Democratic Majority (“EDM”) theory – was that the Democrat Party had amassed such a solid coalition of voters over the decades that the party could endure occasional bad election cycles and still retain control of the levers of government over the long haul. Recently revisiting his book, Judis noted it is, well, wrong. How times change.
Sadly for EDM – and every other Democrat-ideology theory forced into sustained contact with reality – the theory was flawed. It turns out – to paraphrase Mark Twain – news of the Republican Party’s death was greatly exaggerated. What hasn’t been exaggerated is the magnitude of just how far the authors’ theory missed the mark. The theory wasn’t just wrong: It was exactly wrong – a feat extremely difficult even for Democrats to pull off. As Noah Rothman notes at Hot Air, the fatal flaw in EDM is, “Voters expected results from the party in which they had vested new authority.” After the better part of a decade getting none – or should we say the wrong results – voters learned to vote with their feet, walking out on Democrats at the polls.
The results of that reality check have been telling. Americans do not believe Democrats can provide economic security, let alone national security. The Democrat Party has become the party of racial, social and economic division, promoting class warfare as a primary means to gain political power, at the expense of all. It has accelerated national spending to a point of unfathomable debt, reincarnated the permanent welfare state, and turned public education into a 12-year babysitting service in which children simply bide time until they are turned out onto the streets of reality, lacking critical skills to become productive members of society.
In broad brushstrokes, in the wake of the contentious Barack Obama Era, Democrats have lost both the House and the Senate, lost control of 69 of 99 state-level legislative chambers, and lost countless officeholder seats. In short, the Democrat Party is in its worst position in 90 years. Americans no longer believe Democrats can deliver on any of their Pollyanna visions of the future.
Lest Republicans succumb to the same ruinous party-in-majority arrogance that (at least for the time being) wiped out the Democrats, we should warn that there’s a lesson here for every politician. The lesson is this: Ignoring or mistaking the will of the people can be hazardous to one’s political health.
Surveying the Democrat debris in the wake of the 2014 midterm Republican wave, the Chosen One commented, “To everyone that voted, I want you to know that I heard you.” The problem is that in his arrogance he didn’t hear. Immediately following his seemingly conciliatory statement, he punchlined, “To two-thirds of voters that chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too.” Sure, Barry: It wasn’t popular will, it was just all those eeevil Republicans holding “the people” back from the polls. Any wonder why Democrats went 0-for-2 in Obama’s midterm cycles?
Summarizing the myriad lessons-learned littering the landscape of Democrats’ political destruction, we offer the same advice to Democrats as we do to Republicans: Take time to do the hard thinking to connect the dots between our nation’s core founding principles and today’s voters. The notion that a party can have an enduring majority without understanding the fundamental principles upon which America was founded is mistaken. The same is true for a party that ignores or misunderstands the will of America’s voters. Listen to the Founders. Then listen to the voters. That’s how to create an “enduring majority.” Anything else is just another political theory on the ash heap of history.