The Democratic Party Goes Left: Just What Republicans Want
In November, more than 8,750,000 Californians voted for Hillary Clinton; only about 4.5 million voted for Donald Trump. Similarly, New York went for Secretary Clinton by 4.55 million to 2.8 million votes, a substantial margin of 1.75 million ballots.
What you have just read constitutes about all the good news there is these days for the Democrats.
Much is being made in some quarters about the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. In fact, she did not.
Secretary Clinton won nearly 65.8 million votes, according to the authoritative Cook political report. Donald Trump won almost 63 million votes. The total variance was about 2.85 million votes in favor of the candidate who lost the Electoral College.
However, what has been reported almost nowhere is that 7.8 million votes were cast for other presidential candidates. Libertarian Gary Johnson, a relatively right-leaning former Republican, won 4.5 million votes. Independent Republican Evan McMullin took 725,000 ballots and the Constitution Party’s Darrell Castle came out with 202,000. Together, that’s something over 5.4 million votes for non-Republican conservative presidential candidates nationwide.
The rather over-covered candidate of the Green Part, Jill Stein, received 1.46 million votes, and other third-party and predominantly liberal also-rans took about one million votes total.
The math is pretty straightforward: The Republican nominee and other conservative or conservative-leaning candidates accrued about 68.5 million votes. Secretary Clinton and other liberal candidates garnered about 68.2 million. In sum, as to the presidency, the Right beat the Left by roughly 300,000 votes. A rather narrow margin, yes, but the now-received fact that liberalism, in sheer numbers, beat conservatism is simply untrue.
Over the past eight years, the story of the Democrats’ future has become far shakier than the numbers just noted might indicate. As Eric Levitz writes in New York Magazine, a fortress of weary liberal elitism:
Since President Obama took office, more than 900 Democratic state legislators have been ousted. In January 2009, the party occupied 29 governor’s mansions. Today, it lays claim to 15. The GOP — the party that was supposed to be headed for a great crack-up — holds 33. In 24 states, Republicans control the Executive branch and both legislative houses. Of course, they now enjoy the same trifecta in Washington, D.C.
Only five states now have Democratic governors and state legislatures and the GOP controls 69 of 99 state legislative bodies. This pattern seems unlikely to change, given Democrats’ concentration in urban areas. As the Washington Post’s Amber Phillips notes, “Because Democrats are clustered in one area of (a) state, they have less of a say in who represents congressional (and state-level) districts in the rest of the state.”
Although as an unabashed partisan I rejoice in these numbers, I do not write the above to crow or to sneer at the Democratic Party. Rather, I report them to make a larger comment about a narrative now emerging, strongly, within that once-venerable political institution: Calls from many of its leading stalwarts to turn it harder Left-ward are profoundly ill-advised if Democrats ever care about winning nationally again.
“We’re spending all of our resources on broadcast television chasing this mythical unicorn white swing voter,” says Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher, who argues that the nation’s changing demographics — it is increasingly less white — demands less focus on disaffected lower-income white voters.
Eric Levitz summarizes the growing chorus of “turn Left, young man,” Democrats this way:
Instead of channeling that anger toward real, progressive solutions for the middle (and working) class’s legitimate problems, Trump directed it toward the most vulnerable people in our society, as right-wing populists always have. Clinton failed to counter this appeal, because she refused to embrace populist, class politics.
Former Democratic Senator and Vice-Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, now an independent, said in a recent interview that he fears a “real attempt by the left-left” to seize control of the Democratic agenda and public appeal. His fear is justified: former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, former Obama Administration “Green Jobs” czar” Van Jones, and hard-Left Congressman Keith Ellison, among other prominent Democrats, are calling for this strategy explicitly.
Why is it unwise, politically? Because America is not a hard-Left country. Disproportionate Democratic majorities in New York and California do not a national majority make. As CNN reporter John King said shortly after the November election, “America is a center-right country. It is a lot more conservative, especially out in the heartland, than Democrats think.”
There is also a dynamic at play for which proponents of an aggressive liberal statism fail to account: The Electoral College is a device built into the Constitution that, unlike the finding of hitherto unimagined “rights” lurking in fanciful constitutional penumbras, cannot suddenly be reinterpreted to mean what its liberal opponents want. Its mechanism is very clear and undisputed, articulated with exactitude in a written text.
Can the Constitution be amended? Sure. But is populist rage so great that people across the country would support altering its plain text, one that has endured and served well since 1789? Will such an enterprise be appealing to them, especially since such a change would calcify the suzerainty of the liberal regions into the distant future? No — or to borrow some language from Winston Churchill, this is nonsense up with which the American people will not put.
So, how do the Democrats reclaim political viability, especially at a time when recalibrating congressional districts (which determine presidential electors) in their favor is a pipe dream? I have no particular wisdom for them, other than that, as a conservative, I hope they do go radically to the Left. That way the defeat of dangerous and extreme liberalism will accelerate and deepen all the more.