Opinion: Don’t look now, but this was a really bad election for the left

by Peter Heck · Nov 7th, 2020 10:56 am

Last Updated Nov 8th, 2020 at 12:38 am

It was about as honest and accurate of a post-election assessment that I saw. As the presidential race tilted towards the Democrats while Congressional races did the opposite, Andrew T. Walker observed,

"It is apparent: GOP has a messenger problem and the DNC has a message problem. The former is a PR crisis; the latter is an existential crisis."

I can't imagine seeing it said any better. Enough dust has settled from Tuesday to know that "Trumpism" – that is, the policies pursued and preferred by America's 45th president – did not fall short. Even prior to the election, surveys were showing a very large majority of Americans believed that they were better off than they were four years ago.

Those voting for Biden Tuesday, by any measure were not voting against the Trump economy, Trump foreign policy, or even Trump-era taxes. They were voting against Trump. They hated him, the person. Make no mistake, it was obviously a powerful incentive for a lot of people. But the truth that is about to land on the left like a ton of bricks? It isn't sustainable.

You can't build a governing coalition around hating a guy who is no longer in office. The Whig Party tried that in 1832, bound together almost exclusively by their loathing of the contemptible Andrew Jackson. Once they were rid of him, how did things go? The party ceased to exist about 20 years later.

Now, I am certainly not suggesting the modern Democrat party that has been around since the time of that same Andrew Jackson is going to fold up shop and disappear any time soon. I am saying that they face an inexorable identity crisis that will soon, under the weight of governance, provoke an intra-party civil war – all presided over by an historically weak president.

The opening tremors of this looming upheaval were already being witnessed in a Democrat Party caucus call Thursday (language warning):

Representative Abigail Spanberger obviously has a legitimate point, and one that Democrats will ignore at their own peril. But ignoring it is precisely what some of the party's most recognizable voices are demanding. Responding to former Senator Claire McCaskill's similar warning, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hammered her.

Similarly, it's clear that the dangerous strategy the left has tried in diving headlong into identity politics is backfiring among political centrists. Other than white liberals, and a smattering of activists, no one is interested in reducing the uniqueness and distinct exceptionality of individuals to group identities. Take the question posed to Democrat representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona by a constituent who asked, "how do we as a party improve our work with the LatinX community across the country?" His response was telling:

Even left-wing Vox wrote about Trump's notable gains with Hispanic voters, saying, "racial politics doesn't always work how white liberals think it should."

But it's not just Hispanics. New York Times writer, left-wing Charles Blow was beside himself watching the number of black voter defections to Trump this cycle:

It is "devastating" to the far left that black men and women would exhibit diversity of thought like every other racial demographic. That perfectly explains the problem the left is encountering with their identity politics gambit. It's racist, and non-radicals are rejecting it.

Minorities are not monolithic. Black conservatives are not "Uncle Toms." Ours is a multicultural republic, it is not an empire of white supremacy. The longer the left pretends otherwise, the more ideologically isolated they will become, and the more inroads Republicans and conservatives will make with those who are appreciative of being regarded as thinking, sophisticated human beings.

It is likely that in this election Republicans have lost the bully pulpit of the presidency. It's also quite evident to anyone paying attention that Democrats have lost much more.

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