Democratic candidates across the country, facing voters beset by inflation, rising oil and gas prices, a collapsing real estate market, a crime wave in the cities, and mounting chaos caused by an open southern border, have given up on running on the record they built over the past two years in Washington. The record is not good, most of them will admit; instead, they have built up a caricature of their Republican opponents and have decided to run against that. “We may be bad,” they suggest, “but the other guys are a lot worse.” If the voters dare to elect Republicans, they will soon wreck the economy, cut Social Security and Medicare, and even end Democracy As We Know It. That is the pitch Democrats are making in the final days of their midterm campaigns.
President Biden has made this case explicitly in recent speeches. The “MAGA Republicans,” he says, will destroy the election system and take down democracy and popular government with it. Democrats have made mistakes, he acknowledges, but the opposition wants to derail the country altogether. Left-wing talking heads on television have said that Republicans, if they win the midterm elections, will imprison their opponents, kill children, and set up an authoritarian regime. They argue that Democrats will save democracy by setting up a one-party regime. The argument is illogical, but also unlikely to be effective in appealing to voters worried about crime or high prices for groceries, gasoline, and heating oil.
Other candidates and spokesmen have added a wrinkle or two to this argument. Hillary Clinton said a few days ago that Republicans have no solution to the crime problem. Others have said that Republicans have no solutions for inflation or rising oil and gas prices. In other words: “Republicans have no solutions for the problems we’ve caused.” It is a bold argument, made in desperation because the actual record does not look good.
But the claim is not true: Republicans have answers to these problems. Stop spending and borrowing, for one thing; end the war against American energy companies; turn out Democrat prosecutors with their “soft on crime” policies; close the southern border. Voters may not even be looking for quick solutions—they merely want Democrats to stop making the problems worse. The easiest way to do that is to turn as many as they can out of office.
The recriminations and post-mortems will begin in a few days once the votes are counted with Republicans taking over the House of Representatives, perhaps the Senate, along with many governorships and state legislatures. How did Democrats get themselves into this position where they are unable to run on their own record? Why were they induced to invent hysterical scenarios about the end of democracy and the horrible events that will transpire if they are turned out of office?
In truth, the Democratic Party as presently constituted will never be a problem-solving enterprise and was bound to make a mess of things from the day it took power in 2021. The climate groups want high oil and gas prices, and they support the Biden Administration’s ongoing war against U.S. energy companies. The immigration advocates want an open southern border, for a host of reasons, and accept the chaos that comes with it. The progressives and race advocates want to end cash bail and re-install the “revolving door” system of justice. The feminists and race theorists lobby for quotas, reparations, and the teaching of race and gender ideologies in schools and colleges. All of these groups want the federal government to spend more money on their pet causes, while continuing to borrow the funds to pay the ever-increasing costs, thereby causing rising prices. Democrats are not going to dump these interest groups during the lifetimes of anyone currently in office. The groups will continue to press their claims ad infinitum, which is one reason why Democrats cannot fix the problems they have caused—they like the “problems” more than the “solutions.”
Democrats have also been misled by the “Never Trumpers” they have welcomed into their camp as a means of making trouble for Republicans. Liz Cheney and a gaggle of Trump-haters in Washington have talked Democrats into a negative strategy which presumes they will win elections by painting Republicans as mouthpieces for Donald Trump. On this basis, Democratic donors have forked over large sums to pay for political ads and publications put out by Never Trumpers on the calculation that once-establishment Republicans are the perfect instruments for sowing discord among Republican-leaning voters. Because of their hatred for Trump and the voters supporting him, along with their belief that his candidates cannot win elections on their own, they talked donors into supporting pro-Trump candidates in Republican primaries, convinced that they would be easy to knock out in general elections.
But it is never wise to play with fire, as Democrats have done this year. It now appears that many of Trump’s candidates in Arizona, Ohio, Georgia, and other states are poised to win their elections against Democratic incumbents who were assured that they would have a free pass through the midterms. If this turns out to be the case, then Democrats and Never Trumpers, rather than retiring Trump’s candidates, will have to deal with them in Washington or in state capitals over the next several years. Tuesday may be a sad day not only for Democrats across the board, but also for those Never Trumpers who helped lead them down the primrose path to defeat.