Political glory is fleeting
Democrats were reminded after President Donald Trump’s well-received State of the Union that all glory is fleeting. Suddenly Trump saw his numbers go back into the mid-40 percent, recovering those mushy Republicans and Independents that deserted him during the government shutdown. Their on again, off again reactions to Trump remind some that the president can regain lost support, however unenthusiastic.
Moreover, as the imbroglio in Virginia proves, to bend to far in favor of moralists may serve to hurt Democrats. In a poll sponsored by the Washington Post, African American votes favored Gov. Ralph Northam remaining as governor by a margin of 58 percent to 37 percent. Despite the “blackface” controversy of 35 years ago, African Americans might not like him as much, but they still favor him over a Republican. But the Democrats were reminded that the youthful indiscretion problem was opened up by their own leadership with Brett Kavanaugh. As Mr. Dooley put it, “politics ain’t beanbag,” and the voter is not quite as reactive as the Mugwump Liberal supposes — issues still count.
Indeed, Democrats still have serious problems in their coalition. The congressional backbenchers, with all their talk concerning a “Green New Deal” with its restrictions and high taxes endanger support with more traditional liberals and moderates. Moreover, their foreign policy stances are neo-Conservative. If they think that they’re going to defeat Trump by simply showing up, they are mistaken.
In 1972, Democrats went a similar route, suspecting that newly enfranchised 18-year-old voters and discontent against Richard Nixon would win the presidency for the party. George McGovern, with his strident mugwumpery, went down to a 49-state defeat. The Democrats won the 18-year voters with only 51 percent. In politics, trendiness is dangerous.
The danger of ignoring history in the part of our New Fabian Socialists is acute. They are not Marxists and it shows. Old Leftists knew history, while the recent new Leftists have bought into the politics of feelings. The New Left’s battle cry of the “personal is political” is fraught with danger. A vote is a vote and a coalition partner is a partner. In the same Washington Post poll, more Republicans wanted Northam to resign, yet seemed unfazed by the charges. Give them credit, they understand the game unflinchingly – power is power. Any inconsistency is well worth Richmond. Like African Americans, they understand the stakes, while financially well-heeled new Democrats and independents do not.
This is also a warning to moralist ultras who reach too far. The tendency to accuse might be correct, but it is a double-edged weapon. What might be used against an opponent can easily be reversed. Take the case of Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax when he was eager to dethrone Northam, until two women accused him of sexual assault. The cases were old, but Democrats had no compunction in attacking Kavanaugh’s record when he was 15. Some care needs to be exercised.