Blue dogging or progressive affluenza?
By Daniel M. Ryan
Leaving aside the latest burst of notoriety from Broward County, the midterm elections of 2018 were good for the Dems but not all that good. One reason why the Dems got a small but solid majority in the House was the spate of retirements from incumbent Republicans. No less than twenty-one â€œretiredâ€? without seeking or getting appointed to another office. Contrast that to the Democratsâ€™ eight. The end result was a Republican House caucus, albeit a minority, thatâ€™s closer to President Trump.
The Dems were hoping for a reverse 2010 or reverse 2014. They didnâ€™t even get a reverse â€˜94. The Pubbies won 230 seats that year, gaining a solid majority in the House. They also got a tied Senate from the general election and two more from the specials to give them 52-48. As it now stands, the Republicans are guaranteed 51 Senators and will get at least 53. Instead of 52-48, the Democrats will be fortunate to get 47-53.
Even with their shortfall, President Trump has shown that heâ€™s willing to co-operate. He congratulated Nancy Pelosi last Wednesday and publicly supported her for Speaker. Some commenters said he was trolling, but itâ€™s likely that heâ€™s keeping his options open. If Rep. Pelosi is elected Speaker and the Dems fall behind her, President Trump will be open to deals in the areas that got ideological conservatives falsely branding him a crypto-Democrat in â€˜15. According to Pelosi, President Trump called her and said he wanted to make deals on infrastructure and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Thereâ€™s no reason to doubt her word here. President Trump has long promised to tackle both; he hasnâ€™t because heâ€™s been stymied by Paul Ryan Republicans.
True, the Wall will be postponed until President Trump gets a majority of Republicans in the House who square off with him instead of an ideology or rich donors. The investigation of Deep-State shenanigans will grind to a halt. This is part of political life. One useful if humbling lesson from competitive politics is that victories are fickle. Getting arrogant is tempting the Fates who are always ready to dole out a harsh lesson to folks who get full of themselves. In a recent Take That!, Kurt Schlichter treats the Demâ€™s good fortune as a needed wake-up call for conservative activists.
Conservatives have a good track record in this area. As Twitter wags noted, Republicans came nowhere close to the proggie meltdowns after the â€˜16 elections. A â€œRepublican riotâ€? is an empty public square.
It might turn out, in hindsight, that Trumpâ€™s congratulations and offer to deal becomes a troll. If so, itâ€™s because of the fractiousness of the Dems. Some of them, including the rising tide of leftists, vowed to not vote for Rep. Pelosi. These vows may prove to be as flimsy as the stereotypical political promise. But they do indicate a cohort of emotional Dems eager to push policies that have no chance of succeeding. The Democrat leadership might cynically go along with it. Remember all those bills to repeal Obamacare when President Obama was still in the White House? Abolishing ICE, open-borders measures, amnesty, government housing, â€œ[Medicaid] For Allâ€?, etc., will serve the Dems in a similar way. Theyâ€™ll go nowhere, and Dems will support them while knowing full well that theyâ€™ll go nowhere while using them for brags to the Democrat base. The progs might swallow this gesture-theatre or see through it and get restive. President Trump is a master troller, but his reach-out will only turn into trolling if the Dems prove to be obstreperous.
More than a few pundits have predicted that the Democrats will fritter away their majority through obstructive measures like using the reformulated House Intelligence committee to harass the Trump Administration and to push for a go-nowhere bill of impeachment. Even though the Emoluments Clause is more in desuetude than Canadaâ€™s Royal Prerogative of Disallowance - the latter was used to disallow one federal law and quite a few provincial laws; the Emoluments Clause has never been used â€“ the incoming House Oversight and Government Reform Committeeâ€™s chair does plan to use it to beleaguer President Trump. It'll be the Logan Act all over again. They doing so will further evince a pattern of them using the Constitution like a talented but shifty tax lawyer â€œrespectingâ€? the tax laws.
As explained earlier, the Dems might gum things up as a cynical attempt to drum up the base while accomplishing little. Unless theyâ€™re willing to cut deals with President Trump, who will be open to certain deals, they wonâ€™t succeed in turning any item on their wish list into legislation. The upcoming Congress might well be sound and fury signifying gridlock, whose only clear lane will be more confirmations of originalist judges by the Senate.
The red-meat kabuki theatre is one motivation for obstructing. Another is progsâ€™ psychological propensity to become overbearing, hog the microphone, then cry victim when their overbearingness causes the predictable blowback. Yet another motivation has to do with the inroads made by the Dems into the suburbs. Prog-inclined suburbanites do have a soft spot for symbolic gestures. They donâ€™t turn down a Republican-passed tax cut, but they do have a values-voter side. â€œOrange Man Badâ€? is the most obvious emanation.
The Whole Foods Rebellion
â€?Suburbsâ€? were hot-taken to mean â€œwhite women,â€? who as a group were scolded by the usual haranguers to be insufficiently co-operative. The ones that voted Republican, a less numerous cohort than the ones who voted for Romney in â€˜12 and George W. Bush in â€˜04, were treated to the mixture of condescension and contempt that the Trumper working class knows all too well. Women who were swayed by the appalling treatment of Brett Kavanaugh, including but not confined to women with husbands and sons, found out that â€œsassyâ€? is a euphemism for hectoring. This time, feminists were the ones to trundle out the â€œreal interestsâ€? trope.
Yet, the Dems made real inroads into the suburbs. Grasping that a more accurate paraphrase of â€œsuburbanâ€? is â€œaffluent,â€? Michael Barone dubbed â€˜18 the â€œWhole Foods waveâ€?:
This was a Whole Foods wave, with about two-thirds (by my count) of Democratic gains coming in upscale and suburban districts dominated by high-income college graduates. Upscale suburbs in the Northeast, on the West Coast and in many Midwestern metro areas started trending Democratic in the 1990s. In 2016 and again this year, similar parts of metro areas in the South -- Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Dallas and even Oklahoma City -- started doing so.
This wave says that the suburbs are slowly changing into the locales of gated-community multiculturalists.
As we well know, the gated-community multiculturalists support positions that they routinely exempt themselves from. Theyâ€™re all for vibrant diversity until vibrancy come to their own schools, at which point NIMBY kicks in. They say they support high taxes while moving, if only legally, to red-type states with easier tax regimes. They support increases in the minimum wage while relying on illegal-immigrant labour. They yell for more gun control after a school, club or bar gets shot up by a crazed killer, but turn an oblivious eye to the illegal-gun culture in the rougher parts of the inner city. They sanctimoniously support minorities, yet those folks are the gentrifiers. Their double standards cohere with a pattern of supporting moral-preening policies while expecting Normals to bear the brunt.
This can be explained cynically, as per above. But it does gibe with a propensity for supporting policies out of emotion. To a surprising degree, the purportedly smart and rational gaters are motivated by sentiment shrouded by rationalizing. Theyâ€™re also surprisingly credulous, as we see when a new hate-crime hoax comes down the pipe. Dovetailing with this credulity is a propensity for flip-flop thinking: lurching to one extreme or another. No wonder â€œnuanceâ€? has become a buzzword.
To a large degree, these are highly-paid specialists who are not all that ept when they wander out of their specialties. Think of the fellow who canâ€™t tell the difference between an â€œAK-15â€? and a handgun lecturing you about guns. Heâ€™s a lot like the fellow who stares helplessly at his Lexus (or gets abrasive) when its battery dies. Part of this ineptness is the downside of hyper-specialization, which causes mental as well as physiological atrophy. But another part is vanity and arrogance crowding out humility and considerateness. Look at how â€œgunsplainingâ€? has become the squawk of the Dunning-Kruger grabber bird. This plus moralizing is what theyâ€™re like when their ability to rationalize canâ€™t cover up their blind spots of ignorance.
Based upon current trends, they will show a penchant for laws infringing both the Second and First Amendments. Unlike those previous examples, they tend be not hypocritical in this area. As evinced by the grabber bird, gun grabbers have little to no interest in guns. They really think that gun confiscation means no skin off their noses. Similarly, â€œhate speechâ€? in the sense that they mean â€“ which include disseminating unsettling facts â€“ is a right they only exercise on Trump supporters. None of them, except for the ones that are unusually oblivious, support restrictions on â€œhate speechâ€? that protect Heartland Normals or pious Christians. The restrictions on speech they do support wonâ€™t restrict their own speech, absent unintended-consequence blowback.
This lack of hypocrisy means they wonâ€™t be tripped up as easily. Hence, gun grabbing and censorship will wax. Thankfully, theyâ€™ll be stalled. The Republican Senate and an awakened Mitch McConnell have appointed judges who believe that the Second and First Amendments mean what they say. This will prove to be a great help as a backstop, though they do nothing with regard to deplatforming and corporate censorship.
The foregoing presents a grim picture, but itâ€™s not that bad. If the Dems yield to the temptation to push moral-preening policies and orange-man-bad obstructionism, centrist folks will see them frittering away their majority on grounds that will increasingly appear self-indulgent. Trump never does better when he has a group of fools as his foil. On the other hand, there is a chance that blue-dog heads will prevail and the electorate will see a new side of President Trump. Blue-dog brags about real legislation will make the House hustings tougher in â€˜20, but the upside is blue dogs keeping a lid on the lefties and virtue signallers. Either way, the Republicans will be more in line with Trump and Trump will find an advantage. If theyâ€™re kept in check, even the gated-community virtue signallers will eventually stop lecturing us to be reflective and do a little reflecting of their own. Progressive affluenza might end up yielding to blue-dog common sense.Daniel M. Ryan, as Nxtblg, is spinning his wheels at Steemit.