I was listening to a Republican-leaning local talk show host on the way to work last week, and one of the things he discussed was “Shouldn’t the Democrats do an ‘election autopsy’ like the Republicans did after 2012?” I think the likelihood of any “autopsy” is low, and the chances of the Democrats producing an autopsy that is of actual use are even lower.
The purpose of such an autopsy is to determine what you did wrong in the first place, and the Democrats don’t yet seem prepared to admit they did anything wrong. The reaction so far from the Democrats indicates they are, in fact, planning to double down.
The Republican autopsy of 2012 was a flawed document, driven heavily by politics. Some of the recommendations were sensible, such as greater minority outreach and “don’t nominate out of touch rich guys who can’t connect with ordinary Americans.” But much of it was an effort to push the Republican establishment’s agenda, an agenda which had caused chaos within the party and resulted in the Tea Party backlash. The number one recommendation was to pass amnesty without delay, and we know by now what that would have brought about.
Any such document the Democrats try to produce will certainly be tainted by a similar agenda. Such a document will be self-serving, and designed to excuse the mistakes and errors of those in power, particular the mistakes made by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Indeed, the entire Democrat response has been one giant “CYA” operation. The reaction so far has consisted primarily of denial of reality. They have decided that Trump is actually a secret Russian agent but have not been able to prove this assertion, with the US “intelligence” community beclowning itself at Obama’s behest by spinning elaborate fairy tales of how positive coverage of Trump from Russian media sources like RT and Sputnik somehow counts as “hacking the election.”
While the spinning of such elaborate conspiracy theories is good for rousing the base, if such slime tactics worked on Trump, then he would never have become president. The entire story of this election was the mainstream media suffering a huge defeat and reduction in its ability to influence electoral outcomes through sliming Republicans.
This brings us to the other major reaction of the left, which has been to declare the opposition are traitors peddling “Russian propaganda” and censor opposition media and government critics, using theoretically private companies like Facebook and Twitter as agents of the government to skirt First Amendment protections. Glenn Greenwald has written about this several times:
Even more disturbing than the Post’s shoddy journalism in this instance is the broader trend in which any wild conspiracy theory or McCarthyite attack is now permitted in U.S. discourse as long as it involves Russia and Putin — just as was true in the 1950s when stories of how the Russians were poisoning the U.S. water supply or infiltrating American institutions were commonplace. Any anti-Russia story was — and is — instantly vested with credibility, while anyone questioning its veracity or evidentiary basis is subject to attacks on their loyalties or, at best, vilified as “useful idiots.”
Two of the most discredited reports from the election season illustrate the point: a Slate article claiming that a private server had been located linking the Trump Organization and a Russian bank (which, like the current Post story, had been shopped around and rejected by multiple media outlets) and a completely deranged rant by Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald claiming that Putin had ordered emails in the WikiLeaks release to be doctored — both of which were uncritically shared and tweeted by hundreds of journalists to tens of thousands of people, if not more.
The Post itself — now posing as a warrior against “fake news” — published an article in September that treated with great seriousness the claim that Hillary Clinton collapsed on 9/11 Day because she was poisoned by Putin. And that’s to say nothing of the paper’s disgraceful history of convincing Americans that Saddam was building non-existent nuclear weapons and had cultivated a vibrant alliance with al Qaeda. As is so often the case, those who mostly loudly warn of “fake news” from others are themselves the most aggressive disseminators of it.
If this were one election, it could perhaps be argued the Democrats don’t need an autopsy and could win with a better candidate. But it’s not just one election. The Democrats have been badly mauled in three of the last four elections now – 2010, 2014, and 2016. At the state level, the party has been decimated, with the Republicans holding most of the state legislatures and governorships in the country now, with the Democrats increasingly herded into a small cluster of blue states that are out of step with the rest of the country.
The Democrats’ master plan was always to pass amnesty and turn the United States into a one-party state, under their rule effectively forever. After Obama was elected, and with the Republicans eager to climb into bed with him, the Democrats seemed invincible, with amnesty coming ’round the bend to cement their control.
Beneath the celebrity glitter of Obama, though, the Democrats have been rotting. As I have mentioned, they were demolished twice prior to 2016. Obama continued to be successful, largely because the national Republicans turned on their own voters and supported most of Obama’s agenda. Had they truly wished, most of what Obama has done since 2010 could have been blocked. The only reason the Republicans lost in 2012 was due to picking a very weak candidate, a mistake they did not repeat in 2016 despite the best efforts of the party establishment.
If we go back even further, the Democrats have been really unsuccessful electorally since the turn of the century, with only the elections of 2006, 2008 and 2012 as unqualified wins for them. Democrat strength since 2000 has largely been an illusion, centered around the personal popularity of Obama, combined with the Congressional Republicans propping the Democrats up by supporting their agenda.
So, how do the Democrats get out of the hole they are in? No advice coming from this author will be taken seriously, of course, but the number one millstone around the Democrat party’s neck right now is the “social justice” movement, which is the driving impulse behind the Democrats’ recent charge for censorship in the last five years.
The social justice movement is essentially a crusading, religious-style moral panic, which seeks constantly for new “Satans” to destroy. The social justice movement is directly responsible for converting apolitical people into reluctant Trump supporters, as was seen with Gamergate, when tens of thousands of innocent video gamers were smeared, unfairly and ridiculously, as Nazis, racists, and bigots. The social justice movement is creating enemies of the Democrats where before none existed, and these people are registering their displeasure at the ballot box.
The other problem for the Democrats is that they’ve stopped taking seriously any “bread and butter” issues, such as the economy or national security. They no longer even pretend to take such issues seriously, instead preferring to waste time with transgender bathrooms and global warming, issues which no one outside a tiny circle of fabulously wealthy bi-coastal elites cares about. This is leading them to lose the working classes, who delivered the presidency to Trump in 2016. Candidates like Bernie Sanders, who can at least speak to peoples’ concerns, will be critical for the party to win going forward.
There you go. I think that’s a much better autopsy than whatever the DNC will produce (if they produce one at all), don’t you?