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Democrats obviously didn't take their defeat in 2016 well. That debacle has, however, produced virtually none of the soul-searching and reform that usually occur on the loser's side. One would think that they had won rather than lost more than 1,000 elected offices nationwide during the Obama era.

As such, the "resistance" developed even before Donald Trump was sworn into office and has become steadily more ferocious even as evidence accumulates that it is enhancing rather than eroding his support.

The party has also doubled down in just about every conceivable way upon the "identity politics" stratagem, with apparently no desire to mend fences with the white working-class voters whose defection in places like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.

Despite evidence that they had moved too far left to be competitive in many parts of the country, Democrats have now moved even further in the past 18 months, going, in one pundit's words, "full Venezuela."

Abortion on demand at taxpayer expense, free college, socialized medicine, guaranteed federal jobs for all, a $15-dollar minimum wage, and the abolition of ICE with "sanctuary" cities and open borders are now, in essence, the party's non-negotiable program.

National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz had a hard time during the 2016 election cycle explaining the difference between a socialist and a Democrat, but whatever distinctions existed have now been erased by the party's embrace of "democratic socialism."

In the words of Kyle Smith, "The Democratic love of socialism was for many years the love that dared not speak its name. No more. Now the party is figuratively jumping on Oprah's couch shouting its love of socialism. You'd have to plug your ears not to hear it."

The Democratic Party is now firmly the party of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

This failure of adjustment in the form of increasing extremism will likely lead to still more electoral disasters, probably even the re-election of Donald Trump (as remarkable as that might sound), but can be explained by several overlapping factors.

First was the exceeding narrowness of Hillary Clinton's defeat, amounting to about 80,000 votes in three middle industrial states, combined with the fact that she won the popular vote by a full two percentage points.

Clinton's array of excuses--Comey, the Russians, voter disenfranchisement, the electoral college, etc.--also came together amid the shock to provide Democrats with an overarching, soothing narrative of a stolen election. This belief, with its corollary that Trump's presidency is fundamentally illegitimate, has provided the justification for both the fury of the resistance and the party's further radicalization on the ideological front.

In short, if you believe that you were the real, rightful winners, then there is no need to learn any lessons from defeat; you can keep on doing what you've been doing, only more so.

That Democrats have been shellacked in recent years at every other level of government can even be conveniently attributed to factors outside their control, including the allegedly archaic, undemocratic structure of the Senate (two per state, regardless of population), the perfidy of Republican gerrymandering (for the House), and the tendency of birds of a feather to flock together (liberals clustering in the same states and large urban areas).

The presumably obsolete architecture of the American federal system can thus be cited as another excuse for Democratic failures that have little to do with what the party is actually offering voters.

Second, there has been a predictable blaming of the messenger rather than the increasingly hard-left ideological message. The problem wasn't their ideology or the positions that flowed from it but that Democrats got stuck with a historically bad candidate who came burdened by too many scandals and character questions and then proceeded to run an overconfident, tactically inept campaign.

Even then, for all her mistakes and lack of personal appeal, Hillary still would have won, so the argument goes, if only she had heeded Bill's advice and spent a bit more time and money in states that she mistakenly assumed were locked up (the now forgotten Democratic "blue wall").

That the worst possible Democratic messenger was still highly competitive suggested for the faithful that nothing was wrong with the message.

Finally, and perhaps most important of all, especially in terms of explaining Trump's improbable victory, was what can be called the "contempt factor," more specifically, the extent to which Democrats have experienced increasing difficulty in recent years concealing their disdain for our deplorable electorate.

Hillary ultimately lost, apart from other considerations, because there were (and still are) simply too many racists and sexists out there in an incorrigibly racist and sexist country.

This ill-concealed belief is intrinsically tied to the sense of moral superiority that pervades the contemporary left and provides its members with tribal solidarity and purpose. In such an unsavory nation filled with bigots, losing lots of elections becomes further evidence of moral virtue, a badge of courage of sorts. The problem, then, isn't the Democrats, it's America, a country that just isn't good enough for them.

A dismal pattern is thus established: Democrats lose elections and then blame the voters; which causes them to lose still more elections and . . .

Funny how that works, isn't it?


Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.

Editorial on 07/16/2018

Print Headline: Failure to adapt

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  • mozarky2
    July 16, 2018 at 5:59 a.m.

    Kurt Schlichter in today's Townhall:
    "Donald Trump goes to Europe, scandalizes the Euroweenies, libs, and cruise-shilling grifters of Never Trump, and comes back victorious. He’s about to get his second SCOTUS justice confirmed – all they have on Brett Kavanaugh is that he likes beer and is named “Brett.” In Congress, the Democrats decided to go all in on abolishing ICE because Americans love open borders and welcome MS-13 or something. In the Mueller farce, the Dems decided that the smart play was to publicly run interference for creepy weirdo Peter Strzok when he went on national TV doing his impression of Lotion Boy from Silence of the Lambs.

    Hey Pete, what do those Trump voters smell like? Smells like a red wave to me, you insipid weirdo.

    How did Trump luck out by getting such hopeless geebos for opponents? It can’t just be chance. At every turn, these dummies choose to lock themselves into the most implausible and indefensible positions imaginable, then push all their chips into the center of the table. It’s almost supernatural – maybe Trump won the intervention of some ancient demon by heading over to the offices of the Weekly Standard and snatching away one of its Never Trump scribblers to use as a virgin sacrifice".
    (excerpt-read the entire article at Townhall)

  • mozarky2
    July 16, 2018 at 6:04 a.m.

    That was so good let's have some more from Kurt:
    "The Democrats have also decided that they want to go into November on the platform of abolishing ICE and opening the borders to future Democrat voters from festering Third World hellholes. Perhaps they didn’t read the polls, but Normal Americans – the ones not appearing on CNN, working for Soros-funded agitator collectives, or in college squandering their dads’ money on degrees in Oppression Studies – actually like borders. If Trump’s brain trust gathered together in his palatial Mar-a-Lago estate to concoct a scheme to get the Democrat Party to adopt the most tone-deaf possible platform, they could not have drafted one better than what the Democrats have created for themselves. The Dems ought to be required to report everything they have done lately to the Federal Elections Commission as an in-kind donation to the Republicans in 2018".

  • WhododueDiligence
    July 16, 2018 at 7:27 a.m.

    "Abortion on demand at taxpayer expense, ..."
    If Bradley came down from his high ivory tower he'd find many Democrats opposed to that.
    ... "free college ..."
    Many Democrats frown upon rich folks sending their kids to college at taxpayers' expense. They frown on the Republican scheme to give taxpayers' money to rich folks for their kids' private-school K-12 education, too.
    ... "guaranteed federal jobs for all ..."
    What a hoot! How high in the tower is he?
    "... a $15-dollar minimum wage ..."
    Many Democrats believe it would be smarter to adjust the minimum wage in smaller increments to keep pace with inflation. Why are Republicans like Bradley so strongly opposed to that option?
    "... the abolition of ICE with 'sanctuary' cities and open borders ..."
    Trump says stuff like that so often that Bradley apparently believes it, but Democrats don't want open borders. Democrats call for long-overdue comprehensive immigration reform. Republicans refuse to address that issue because they fear their own voters in Republican primaries. For the same reason, Republicans even refuse to address DACA, which would be easier to fix. As for ICE, instead of abolition many Democrats would prefer to see Trump's inhumane, senseless, divisive and xenophobic policies corrected.
    Trump and Gitz are using scare-tactic wedge issues. It's what they do.

  • mozarky2
    July 16, 2018 at 7:31 a.m.

    Yeah, Whodo, and you're totally powerless to stop it. We all know the dims would never resort to wedge issues, right?

  • WhododueDiligence
    July 16, 2018 at 7:32 a.m.

    "The problem, then, isn't the Democrats, it's America, a country that just isn't good enough for them."
    Gitz forgets "Make America Great Again" means America isn't good enough for his tribe.

  • TimberTopper
    July 16, 2018 at 7:36 a.m.

    As usual Gitz and mozzy are both up to the Russian/Republican Party propaganda lies to their ears. Both must be commies!

  • hah406
    July 16, 2018 at 8:12 a.m.

    Moz, you have gone insane this morning. Trump isn't coming back victorious. All that NATO committed to was the 2% that they committed to years ago. If you think that western Europe is our enemy and Russia is our friend, you are as treasonous as Trump. When people say abolish ICE, don't take it out of context. Think your "repeal and replace" from the ACA. Trump is probably going to commit treason today with Putin. He is the most ignorant demagogue in history, and doesn't realize that the Cold War is back on. Reagan is rolling over in his grave at what Trump is doing.

  • mozarky2
    July 16, 2018 at 8:19 a.m.

    hah, what context do you read from the mobs blocking access to ICE facilities when they say they want to shut down ICE?
    To me, it would seem they want to shut down ICE.
    Are they lying? Kidding?
    What about all the dem congresscritters who say they want to shut down ICE?
    Are you saying they're not to be taken seriously?

  • hah406
    July 16, 2018 at 9:04 a.m.

    I am saying they want to stop ICE from what they are doing now. Detaining asylum seekers in prison-like conditions. Separating children from their families. Etc. ICE needs reformed. You do know that it is legal to claim asylum anywhere on U.S. soil, not just at legal border crossings? Apparently Trump does not.

  • Packman
    July 16, 2018 at 9:24 a.m.

    Dr. Gitz is spot on but misses two critical points that has emboldened the radical fringe of the lunatic left.
    First, D's tend to exist in tribal bubbles where they only talk amongst themselves and sincerely believe the rest of the country shares their radical views. Salena Zito has written an incredible book that explains much of it.
    Second, leftists have been riding high on the results of some special elections that they believe prove their agenda is mainstream. What these morons fail to recognize is the dynamics of a special election is NOTHING like a general election.
    The good news is their false sense of security has allowed them to remove the mask. Now we see libs cheering when some vile comedian screams "God bless abortion" or calls Ivanka a "c*nt". Party leaders are calling to abolish ICE, which all of us Normals understand (and rightfully so) to be a call for open borders. Normals also easily grasp the fact there is no such thing as "free" college, unless and until all those college professors and administrators suddenly decide to forego a paycheck. Socialized medicine sounds fine and dandy until you realize it's not a lot of fun to have to wait 3 months to see a dentist for a toothache. If a $15 minimum wage is good, wouldn't a $25 minimum wage be better? And if $25 if better, wouldn't $50 and hour be much, much better? C'mon, socialists, why stop at $15? It really, really, really creates a problem for me buying that new Porsche if you're only paying me $15/hr to flip burgers.
    But the mask if off due to a false sense of triumph in a handful of special elections and leftists living in self-perpetuating bubbles. There is no longer room for moderates in the Democrat Party. Kurt Schlichter nailed it.