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Right Opinion

Democrats Overplayed Their Hand in the Midterms

Bill Wagner · Oct. 24, 2018

I am becoming increasingly, if cautiously, optimistic about the midterms. It’s mostly because of my faith in voter common sense along with recent events that have defined Democrats and highlighted the comparisons between the two parties. I get it — all politics is local. Two weeks is a lifetime, and October is the month for surprises. Yet it’s hard to see those voters on the bubble doing anything but breaking for the GOP.

It’s not because of polling, although polls have been moving in the GOP’s direction, which is good. Surveys also reveal early voting favoring the GOP, which is really good because Democrats historically dominate early voting. While I don’t put much stock in polls, I do believe they consistently undercount GOP voters, so any jump balls should go the way of the GOP. Not only do survey samples typically have a pro-Democrat bias, but I think many key GOP supporters either lie to pollsters or simply hang up, which exacerbates the sample bias.

I come to that conclusion by looking at my last 20 years of interacting with liberals. Two decades ago, I could have respectful debates with my liberal friends. We would talk about our differences, agree to disagree, and go have a beer. Then about 10 years ago, things started to change. We would still debate, but the endgame was more my being told I just didn’t get it (often with an eye roll and a “you’re an idiot” look) and a foregone beer date. More recently, civil debate has been jettisoned, disagreements have devolved into accusations that I am “evil,” and comments are along the lines of, “Gee, I thought you were a good guy. How could you vote for Trump, support the Second Amendment, and deny man-made climate change is killing the environment?” etc.

If we roll the tape back to the aftermath of 2016, we see a Democrat Party consumed with denying that Donald Trump won legitimately, led by Hillary Clinton consultants who, after their boss, had the most egg on their faces and were desperate to come up with a narrative that deflected attention away from the simple fact they blew it. Russian collusion and impeachment became their reason for being. They literally had nothing else for months — no policies, no differentiation with what Trump was doing, no optimism, nothing. Anti-Trump was it.

Then along came progressives who grabbed all the energy and pushed the party toward the far left with things like open borders and abolishing ICE, universal guaranteed income, free health care and college tuition, higher taxes for “the rich,” radical climate change regulations, and more. The 2020 wannabes read the tea leaves, and the Democrat “leadership” jumped on the progressive bandwagon. This was a bit of a risky Hail Mary pass, because it was far from certain that the masses would buy in. But it was clearly a play for the base of the party and was gaining traction. Along the way, various causes du jour emerged, like Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, DACA, and separation of moms and kids at border crossings, yet Democrats continued to flounder, with trouble coalescing around a common theme other than “Trump is bad.”

After that, Justice Anthony Kennedy quit, and there was celebration in Democrat circles. Finally, a cause that would unite the party. Everyone on Trump’s shortlist was obviously in favor of repealing Roe v. Wade, so whomever he picked would be toasted up to women everywhere as the abortion Antichrist. He or she would be defeated, and Trump would be branded as a loser going into the midterms — a perfect recipe for taking back control of the House and Senate. With such huge overconfidence, it never occurred to them that the arrogant badgering of Brett Kavanaugh by Democrat leaders on the Judicial Committee and their encouragement (or at least lack of condemnation) of the screaming mobs that disrupted the hearings and harassed GOP leaders might actually turn off independent voters and even some Democrat loyalists.

When those tactics failed, and Kavanaugh looked to be on the fast-track to confirmation, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) pulled the Christine Ford rabbit out of her hat, and all hell broke loose. Even the utter lack of supporting evidence of Ford’s claims, the absurdity of pile-on accusations by new recruits, and the creepy porn lawyer didn’t knock Democrats off what they thought would be a no-brainer appeal to women everywhere that #MeToo victims must be believed regardless. They were wrong about that and really wrong in assuming that this bunch of GOP leaders would fold. Led by Trump, the GOP fought back, letting women know that due process mattered not only to their husbands, sons, and brothers who could find themselves in Kavanaugh’s shoes but also to women who could also be victims of unsubstantiated accusations. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was superb as well in providing a commonsense assessment of reality. Democrats had put all of their eggs in this new basket and lost badly when Kavanaugh was confirmed. Moreover, public opinion lined up against them. It gave the GOP the perfect follow-up line: “Do you really want these guys in control?”

Along the way, with Democrats desperate for some policy to rally around, polls started to show that “health care” might do the trick. But polls are unreliable and depend on how questions are posed. The conclusion that the majority of people want to “keep ObamaCare” could simply have been recipients who are not not necessarily in love with Obamacare saying they were tired of being whipsawed by change and just want the health care issue to sit still. Uncertain about where this was headed, Democrats turned their guns on “preexisting conditions,” claiming the GOP wanted to eliminate insurance coverage for that.

Let’s ignore for a minute the fact that insurance coverage for preexisting conditions is an oxymoron. If you wait to get insurance until you have a condition, you are not buying “insurance”; you are prepaying for expenses you know you will incur. If the premiums were allowed to reflect that, it might be okay. But that’s not the concept. The GOP realizes this and is not opposed to covering preexisting conditions. Just put it in a separate pot and take it out of “normal” insurance considerations. It makes perfect sense, but since you can’t put that on a bumper sticker, Democrats have been promoting a lie, and perhaps getting away with it.

By itself, the nuances of covering preexisting conditions were not likely to be the determining factor, so Democrats began looking for more ammunition and reverted to their traditional issue of identity politics with disastrous and often humorous results. First came Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who took the Trump bait and had a DNA test to see if she was in fact Native American. She actually claimed she was doing it to restore the “integrity” of the media and government institutions that Trump had called into question. It turns out she has less Native American blood than most Americans of European descent. That didn’t stop her from declaring victory and in the process making herself look like a complete fool. This was followed immediately by a lawsuit against her school, Harvard, for racial discrimination in admissions policies. Bad timing, that.

Then Kanye West visited the White House and praised Trump. With the black vote absolutely crucial to Democrat midterm hopes, it is beyond mind-boggling that Democrats decided it was a good idea to dispatch their black pundit class to call one of the most popular and successful black entertainers on the planet an illiterate “House Negro.” That’s not exactly a user-friendly outreach to the black vote, but it is representative of the Democrat mindset that the black vote is a birthright, and anyone who goes off the reservation, even Kanye, must be censured.

Not to be outdone, The New York Times had a front-page article blasting the Trump administration for redefining “gender” for government purposes as determined by one’s actual biological characteristics, not what one might think they are on any given day. The Times “opined” in its news space that this was “dehumanizing” for the few million transgenders in the country and accused Trump of playing to his evangelical base. Somehow Democrats neglected to consider the vast majority of Americans who do not view transgender bathrooms as the burning issue of our time and see biological distinctions as common sense. But I guess the 23 votes that this version of identity politics might lock in was enough for the Democrat brain trust.

But they weren’t finished yet. Along comes Hillary Clinton, who first takes a stab at taking all the oxygen (and money) out of the room just in time for the midterms by announcing a memory-lane tour with Bill. You’d almost think she was trying to sabotage Democrats’ midterm efforts so that she could swoop in as the savior of the party. But it didn’t end there. Hillary went on to give an interview in which she was asked about the Monica Lewinsky affair. She opined that it was not an abuse of executive power by Bill — “because Monica was an adult.”

Think about that one. Mothers have vivid memories of being forced to explain to their 10-year-olds the meaning of the sex terms they were hearing on TV. And now, when moms are having very sensitive chats with their daughters about #MeToo in the workplace, they have to explain why the head of the Democrat Party is telling young women that it’s perfectly okay for the CEO of their company to hit on them, as long as they are “adults.” In other words, if you encounter what normal humans would call workplace sexual harassment from the CEO, don’t think you can rely on the Democrat Party to support you — particularly if the CEO is a big enough Democrat campaign donor. Then he might throw you under the bus. Can you think of a worse campaign message for Democrats to give to moms and young women?

And let’s not forget Barack Obama, who went on the stump Monday in Las Vegas and spent 90% of his speech beginning his sentences with the word “I.” All of his speech was about trying to take credit for Trump’s accomplishments. Somehow he forgot that he was there to promote local candidates, but that’s par for the course for Democrats who seem to care much more about themselves than the team.

I saved the best for last. When the evidence is in, my guess is that there will be a Democrat link to the mob that is marching through Mexico headed for a confrontation at the U.S. border. The optics of this mob are not as sympathetic as before. You clearly have a politically motivated large group, funded by who-knows-who, that is determined to create a confrontation with the U.S. Regardless of how much sympathy Americans might have for its economic plight, the march is being perceived as a blatant attack on U.S. sovereignty and rule of law. It is backfiring, photo ops of crying babies notwithstanding. No one is against legal immigration, but if this mob is allowed to prevail, the floodgates will be opened, which is what regular Americans are rebelling against. Once again, Democrats have miscalculated both the public reaction and the determination of the current GOP to fight back.

For a brief moment, the murder of the Saudi Arabian journalist in Turkey looked like it might be another item on the midterm list, but Democrats soon realized that while the media elite might be riled up, the incident is not likely to influence one voter to get out of bed and vote in November. So as a campaign issue, this was a quick fade.

Where does that leave Democrats, particularly when contrasted with a GOP that is able to tout record-setting economic prosperity, peace worldwide, and optimism? Democrats are bringing literally nothing to the table other than a revived “impeach Trump” (and maybe Kavanaugh too) message and a rallying cry to their supporters to get violent and resist. That’s hardly a positive message. It’s also really hard to sustain motivation by anger at some vague target for any length of time.

In the rather-be-lucky-than-smart category, trends were leaning against GOP enthusiasm and turnout until Democrats overplayed their hand. Now indications are that the sleeping GOP giant has been awakened, and trends are moving toward the GOP. Of course, anything can happen, but I heard Rush Limbaugh the other day predicting that the GOP would hold Congress and pick up a few Senate seats. After considering the above, he might be too conservative.

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