Representative Maxine Waters of California has a curious explanation for why Democrats were so thoroughly humiliated in 2016 — they were just too nice. “That has been a problem in my party, that when we’re in power we’re nice,” said Waters. “We bend over backwards to work with people.”
Any hope that the Democrats would conduct a serious post-mortem was dispelled with these remarks. The Democrats lost this year and they’ve been losing with some degree of consistency since Barack Obama swept to power in 2008 but they’re still avoiding introspection. As usual, they’re finding ways to flatter themselves in defeat, convinced that it was their own virtue that did them in — plus Russia, racists, and fake news, of course.
The real explanation for why Democrats lost and have continued to lose is rather complicated but the nitty-gritty is this: Donald Trump’s positions on certain issues helped win over several rust belt states that everyone had hitherto considered safely blue while holding onto the traditionally red ones. This happened despite substantial voter fraud in at least one of those rust belt states — Michigan. Was it the Democrats’ niceness that lost these states? Oh, I doubt it. I think it had something to do with their war on coal and on in industry in general. Barack Obama spoke openly of bankrupting coal-fired power plants and Hillary Clinton, his would-be successor, bragged that she would “put a lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business.” Killing people’s jobs is not very nice.
Compromise is something the modern Democratic party just does not do. They’re quite skilled at all sorts of subterfuge intended to look like compromise but the real thing eludes them. In some rare instances, when the votes simply aren’t there for their pet projects, they may be forced to give a little ground. But it wounds them deeply. They quickly turn to the judiciary or to Daddy Obama to achieve what they can’t achieve through the legislature. By hook or by crook, they get what they want.
What ails the jackass party is what I call “parachute politics,” named in honor of Maxine Waters’s fellow California Democrat, Nancy Pelosi . During the 2010 Obamacare debate Pelosi displayed an arrogance that I found shocking. Said the then-House minority leader at a press conference:
We’ll go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, we’ll go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in but we’re going to get health care reform passed for the America people.
Does that sound like someone who’s bending over backwards to work with others? Or does that sound like a fanatic, someone so sure of the righteousness of her cause that nothing — certainly not the will of the people — could have dissuaded her from her path? Pelosi spoke these words just days after Scott Brown pulled off an upset victory in a Massachusetts special election by promising to be the forty-first vote against Obamacare. Yes, running against the “Affordable Care Act” (snort!) was a winning proposition even in ultra-liberal Massachusetts. People didn’t want the crap sandwich Pelosi was trying to force feed them and they want it even less today.
Sure, Americans generally agree that they want some kind of health care reform but they mean something that will make health care more affordable both at the point of sale and in the final analysis. Obamacare has only made it more expensive. Back in 2010 there were at least a few gullible Americans who believed all of Obama’s lies about keeping their current plans and saving the average family of four some $2500 per year. If there are still people who believe these falsehoods they must be delusional.
“Parachute politics” is systemic in the Democrat party. Whether the issue is killing the unborn, stopping voter ID, redefining marriage, or any number of other issues, they absolutely do not take “no” for answer.
Voting rights for felons is a good example. This year, Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia took the bold step of restoring voting rights to all felons in his state who had completed their sentences. He did not attempt to amend Virginia’s constitution. He did not work with legislators to build consensus. He simply decreed it. Republicans sued McAuliffe for his power grab and prevailed in the Virginia Supreme Court. Virginia’s Chief Justice Donald Lemons summed up what should have been obvious to everyone:
Never before have any of the prior 71 Virginia Governors issued a clemency order of any kind — including pardons, reprieves, commutations, and restoration orders — to a class of unnamed felons without regard for the nature of the crimes or any other individual circumstances relevant to the request. To be sure, no Governor of this Commonwealth, until now, has even suggested that such a power exists. And the only Governors who have seriously considered the question concluded that no such power exists.
But McAuliffe was undeterred. If the Virginia Supreme Court told him that he could not restore voting rights en masse, he would do it on a superficially “individual” basis. He got to work “signing” stacks of clemency documents using an autopen to replicate his signature. Governor McAuliffe’s unilateral and constitutionally dubious scheme was a gift to his dear friend Hillary Clinton, to himself, and to his party — the “nice” party that Maxine Water says “bends over backwards to work with people.”
Not that I doubt Maxine Waters’ sincerity when she says this. Her problem isn’t that she doesn’t mean what she says; it’s that t she considers every concession made by the Democrats, no matter how small and no matter how begrudgingly extracted, to be an enormous sacrifice. If the “arc of history” bends toward her own demented definition of justice why should she ever give an inch to the evil forces of reaction? In her mind she and her friends should get 100% of what they want 100% of the time because they are self-evidently right. It’s this attitude that makes compromise nearly impossible. But we’re about to see a different side of that known push-over Maxine Waters. In the same interview in which she faulted Democrats for their willingness to cooperate she also remarked:
I have no intention of pretending everything’s all right, uh, that we’re going to work together. For me, as the ranking member of the Financial Service Committee, where [Trump] said he’s going to bring down Dodd-Frank and he’s going to get rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, I am going to fight him every inch of the way.
When asked if she would accept a hypothetical invitation from Trump to meet and find common ground, Waters replied unequivocally that she would not.
She’s not alone. Congressman Keith Ellison , who is a strong contender to replace Donna Brazile as the next chairman of the DNC, said that “All there is to do is vote ‘no’” to whatever Trump and the Republicans propose. Now there’s some of that famous bipartisanship! I hope the Republican leadership heard Ellison and realizes that he and much of his party cannot be won over. They can be countered and hopefully defeated but they can’t be swayed from their reflexive opposition so don’t even try.
I can recall a time not long ago when Ellison’s and Waters’s defiant attitude would have been called “obstructionism.” Of course that was when some Republicans weren’t kowtowing to President Obama. (Others were kowtowing their asses off, by the way.) Things are different now. I also recall that “obstructionism” was not just unseemly but racist to boot. Not anymore. Now that I think about it, there was also a time in the recent past when Republicans’ “obstructionism” justified presidential end-runs around Congress. Is that still fair play or did that change too?
But don’t let Maxine Waters fool you. She may try to pretend that extraordinary circumstances have driven her to adopt a never-before-seen attitude of resistance, but that just isn’t true. She was a partisan warrior before November 8th just as she’s a partisan warrior now. She was not “nice” when the Democrats ran the show and neither was the rest of her party. Their 2006 and 2008 victories convinced them that the country had gone left for good. What was the sense in reaching across the aisle to the moribund minority?
Liberals are rewriting history before our very eyes, inventing some mythical time when the Democratic majority extended a hand of mercy to those evil Republicans only to have it slapped away. Those of us with memories longer than a goldfish’s know better.