Michael Barone is the Dean of American politics. He’s been the editor of the Almanac of American Politics since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. He probably can tell you the political mix of any one of America’s 3,000 plus counties without having to look it up. His prognostications of political futures are always helpful even when not exactly correct, but nobody is omnicient when making political predictions.
Michael Barone now says the American Left is collapsing, After Its Ascendancy was Proclaimed, the Political Left is Collapsing. He may be right, he may be half right, he may be wrong. No matter, he cannot be and will not be ignored. As always, he makes a good case for what he says.
Barone first recounts what might have passed for the conventional wisdom in future voting patterns. Politically interested people and most political strategists have believed for quite a while that in the long run the welfare state would keep the Left and the Democrat establishment in power because a welfare and government-benefit demanding public would see to it.
I’m a pretty close friend of a guy that encapsulates that sentiment. He has risen high in the government world but is a closet registered Republican and even claims to be a conservative. That he may be, although under a slightly different concept of conservatism than the one I hold. He has predicted with utmost confidence that as more and more Americans become dependent on some sort of government largesse the Republican party will soon be circling the drain. Even if not soon, he says, it will inevitably shrink to insignificance. Illegal immigration, he says, will guarantee it. (Good point there, I’ll admit)
He was absolutley sure that Hillary Clinton was going to be sworn in as president next January 20th, and even though that seemed to be no longer operative by 10 PM on election night, he still believed Democrats would find a way to pull the rabbit out of the hat with the Stein recount. Now it’s the Stein recount that appears to be circling into the deep end of the swamp. My friend may be in despair.
I’m silently savoring the schadenfreude, while dying to lay on the “I told you so,” with spoonfuls of the thick syrup of sanctimony. Maybe I’ll just ask him if he’s up on the latest from Michael Barone. He respects Barone immensely.
Here’s the part of Barone’s latest that might embarrass him:
It’s not surprising that newsmagazine editors expected a move to the left. The history they’d been taught by New Deal admirers, influenced by the doctrines of Karl Marx, was that economic distress moves voters to demand a larger and more active government.
There was some empirical evidence in that direction, as well. The recession triggered by the financial crisis of 2007-08 was the deepest experienced by anyone not old enough to remember the 1930s. Obama was elected with 53 percent of the popular vote — more than any candidate since the 1980s — and Democrats won congressional elections with similar majorities, just as they had in 2006.
Things look different now, and not just because Trump was elected president. It has been clear that most voters have been rejecting big-government policies, not only in the United States but also in most democratic nations around the world.
Leftist politicians supposed that ordinary voters with modest incomes facing hard times would believe that regulation and redistribution would help them. Evidently, most don’t.
The rejection was apparent in the 2010 and subsequent House elections; Republicans have now won House majorities in 10 of the past 12 elections, leaving 2006 and 2008 as temporary aberrations. You didn’t hear Hillary Clinton campaigning on the glories of Obamacare or the Iranian nuclear deal, and her attack on “trumped-up trickle-down” economics didn’t strike any chords in the modest-income Midwest.
Republican success has been even greater in gubernatorial and state-legislature elections, to the point that Democrats hold both the governorship and legislative control only in California, Hawaii, Delaware, and Rhode Island. After eight years of the Obama presidency, Democrats hold fewer elective offices than at any time since the 1920s.
Barone concludes with this sentence, which embodies the lesson I hope my friend and the millions of like minded will draw from all this:
Donald Trump’s victory means the Left can’t jam its policies down on the whole nation — and gives it the incentive to develop policies acceptable to not only its own base but also voters among whom it fell agonizingly short this year.
I’m not worried that the Democrats will respond to any incentive to change their message or develop any new policies that aren’t subterfuge. That, my friends, ain’t never going to happen.