Comment: Carl Golden – Democrats still count on election losses

While Republicans are positively stunned by the party’s sweep in Virginia and the near crash in Reliable Blue New Jersey, Democrats have succumbed to public wrangling and have pointed out who and what was to blame.

Whatever detente could be between the progressives and the party’s centrists, it vanished the day after the election, as leaders of both factions gazed at the smoldering rubble that was once their party.

Elated Republicans immediately presented the election of Glenn Youngkin as governor of Virginia as an unmistakable harbinger of an inevitable eruption in next year’s congressional midterms. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, caught in the euphoria of the moment, predicted a Republican gain of 60 House seats in 2022.

Republican optimism has grown steadily, and even before the favorable outcome in Virginia and the tight appeal in New Jersey, regaining control of Congress next year has gone from possible to assured.


Moderate Democrats attributed this poor performance to voters’ perception that the party had turned too left, that it had become synonymous with radical ideas that a majority of Americans found unacceptable, if not frightening.

Progressives responded by insisting that the party had become too timid, that failure to agree to significant new spending and tax hikes to fund dramatically expanded social programs has doomed its chances.

The nation’s prevailing mood strongly suggests that progressives are on the wrong side of the debate and that the party has failed to recognize or respond to the trend toward centrist policies with wider and deeper support in the country. .

The leftists had created a context in which the Democrats were the party to define police, open borders and cancel culture, while appearing to sympathize with violent street protesters and replace capitalism with socialism.

Fairly or not, the perception stuck, aided by the relentless drumbeat of social media by the relentless assaults by progressive leaders on those who advised halfway moderation.

The rhetoric turned harsh, reaching a new plateau of fury when longtime party strategist and Clinton family confidant James Carville attributed the Democratic losses to a “stupid awakening,” a direct fire against the progressive faction.

New York Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, a leader of the left, hit back at Carville, saying her day is over and her policies are no longer relevant.

Carville, however, identified overseas discontent in the nation, a sense that the government and its leaders are indifferent to the concerns and frustrations of a population that feels ignored by a contemptuous and condescending ruling class whose primary concern is to stay in power.

The revival movement Carville referred to had inflicted serious damage on the party by espousing causes that were discussed in college halls of universities and had no place in the lives of ordinary Americans.

The stumbles of the Biden administration and the free fall of public approval have only added to the sense of a government in disarray, one that, faced with a crisis, denies its existence, downplays it as insignificant. or offers assurance that it is under control and no reason to worry.

The distressing and protracted debate over the bipartisan infrastructure bill, pitting moderates against progressives, has embarrassed the president and congressional leaders and cast doubts on their ability to deliver anything of importance.

Even Democrats worried aloud that McAuliffe would have benefited immensely – perhaps even won – had the infrastructure bill been approved ahead of the election and given him an important topic of discussion about the success of the governance.

The Democratic defeats were a story of voter anger and disappointment. The party presented an important and inviting target to focus on and send a message to: There is more to the country than New York, California, and Bernie Sanders.

Carl Golden is Senior Associate Analyst at the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University in New Jersey. He can be contacted at cgolden1937 @ gmail.


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