Eugene Robinson’s latest article is proof that there aren’t many great strategists left in the Democratic Party. A topnotch political strategist wouldn’t say “In the two weeks since, Trump has only piled outrage upon outrage, as far as progressives are concerned. He took the first steps toward building his ridiculous wall along the southern border, but with U.S. taxpayers’ dollars, not Mexico’s. He squelched government experts who work on climate change. He weakened the Affordable Care Act in the hope that it would begin to collapse, which would make it easier for Congress to kill it.”
That’s because they’d know that the ACA started collapsing a year ago. Its collapse is inevitable because it’s terrible legislation. A relatively healthy person is better off not buying insurance because the ACA’s out-of-pocket expenses (premiums plus deductibles) in some states are so high that families are better off paying the penalty rather than buying the insurance. As I’ve written before, the ACA is catastrophic coverage at Cadillac plan prices.
And I can’t help thinking back to 2009. Republicans made an all-out effort to stop the Affordable Care Act. Their motives were purely political; some GOP senators railed against policies they had favored in the past. Ultimately, they failed. Obamacare became law.
But this losing battle gave tremendous energy and passion to the tea party movement — which propelled Republicans to a sweeping victory in the 2010 midterm election. It is hard not to see an analogous situation on the Democratic side right now.
Democrats haven’t learned the TEA Party lesson, which is that politicians better listen to We The People or else. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi didn’t listen to people and lost 12 seats and 63 seats respectively. Chuck Schumer isn’t listening to the people, either. The chances of Democrats picking up Senate seats is remote at best.
Democrats cannot stop Gorsuch from being confirmed. But they can hearten and animate the party’s base by fighting this nomination tooth and nail, even if it means giving up some of the backslapping comity of the Senate cloakroom. They can inspire grass-roots activists to fight just as hard to win back state legislatures and governorships. They can help make 2018 a Democratic year.
This is delusional thinking. Democrats will lose more governorships and legislative seats because they’re owned by special interests. They haven’t talked about doing what’s best for the people. President Trump constantly talks about putting people first. Democrats reflexively side with environmental activists, which has alienated blue collar union rank-and-file.
Democrats in Illinois haven’t pressured Rahm Emanuel to actually crack down on Chicago’s crime-infested streets. New York City’s City Council hasn’t blasted Bill De Blasio’s sanctuary city policies. In both cities, people don’t feel safe. Former President Obama insisted that terrorism wasn’t a threat while ISIS killed people in shopping malls and at Christmas parties. The Obama administration insisted, too, that the borders were secured. Voters knew that wasn’t true.
Voters won’t vote for the party that won’t protect them. Right now, people don’t trust Democrats to handle the basic government functions. Until that happens, people won’t trust Democrats.