Laura Hollis: The state of the Democratic Party … and the states
In the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s loss and the Democrats’ failure to regain control of either house of Congress, the focus has since shifted to how the Democratic Party has been decimated at the state level. Since President Obama was elected in 2008, the Democrats have lost 919 seats in state legislatures, and Republicans now control 32 of 50 state legislatures, and hold 33 governorships.
Earlier this week on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” USA Today’s Washington Bureau chief Susan Page said, “Democrats face a world in which they’ve been hollowed out. They have not had people in the pipeline as Republicans have so skillfully done for the past 20 years.”
President Obama and newly re-elected House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both tried to chalk up the current situation to poor messaging.
They can’t be serious.
I’m not old enough to remember how Democrats marketed themselves when they were selling FDR or JFK. But what have they been “selling” lately? If you follow the news and the efforts of the Obama administration, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Democratic Party platform sounds like this:
• “We can have sex with whomever we want, and if you point out that this is often personally and societally destructive, you’re a bigot and a hater.”
• “We want you to pay for our contraception, and if you don’t want to, you’re a bigot and a hater.”
• “A baby is only a baby if we want it. If we don’t, it’s a ‘fetus,’ and we should be able to kill it, even when it’s full-term. If you dare to suggest that an unborn human being should have some constitutional rights, you’re a bigot and a hater.”
• “We are whatever gender we decide to be, and if you mention science to prove otherwise, you’re a bigot and a hater.”
• “Our interpretation of ‘climate change’ is the only real one, and if you point out any flaws in our data, or any data to the contrary, you’re a bigot and a hater.”
• “If anything you say offends us, we can silence you. If you look like someone who did bad things in the past, you should pay for what they did. If you object to either, you’re a bigot and a hater.”
• “We have academics who can produce delightfully obscurantist theories about why you are a bigot and a hater, and if you object, too bad, because they have tenure.”
• “Laws should be passed that criminalize your viewpoint. The federal judiciary should uphold laws that force you to say you agree with us, and act like you agree with us. The executive branch should use every department to ensure that you agree with us or you’ll lose your federal funding, your land, your business, your license and your tax-exempt status. In short, we believe that the federal government should be all-powerful and able to shut you out of public life because you are a bigot and a hater.”
We heard you loud and clear.
Time selected Donald Trump as its Person of the Year for 2016, but the cover’s subhead reads, “President of the Divided States of America.” File this under #FakeNews; we’ve been divided for years.
Yet Trump is drawing flak because no one was supposed to know that. The people upset with the direction of the country? We’re outliers. Pitiful, isolated throwbacks. The rest of the country has left us behind. Virtually no one still thinks like we do. (“We’re all socialists now,” remember?) The left thought the battle inextricably won. Academia is doing yeoman’s work in indoctrination, the media will dutifully ignore our concerns, the entertainment industry will mock us and undermine our values, and the federal government will force our compliance with the new world order.
Yes, they thought they had bloody well shut us up and shut us down.
As it turns out, among the places conservatives could assert their influence was in state and local government. The Democrats have tended to ignore the states. Why? I submit it’s because they thought, “We’ll control the federal government and make state governments irrelevant.”
It also explains their fury with the Electoral College, which — you guessed it — empowers the states.
This is part and parcel of the country’s design (and further proof of the brilliance of the Founding Fathers). State governments are closer to the people, and more responsive to their will. State governments also act as de jure and de facto buffers against the excesses of the federal government.
This should be further proof of the strength of the Constitution. The Democrats ignored this, to their chagrin. Republicans, now with the power of the federal government in their hands, should not fall victim to the same error.