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TYRRELL: Psychology of defeated Democrats

They face change they can’t believe in - or even deal with

- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2010

Liberals are having a difficult time explaining what happened to them on Election Day. Actually, it appears that many of them do not know what happened to them. They are in denial.

Frankly, I expect many Democrats on Capitol Hill are going to go on about their business as though nothing exceptional happened Tuesday. They were re-elected as usual. So who are those guys standing in the hallways of the congressional offices waiting for them to leave? Many Democrats are going to have to be eased out of their offices, and professional help may be called upon. I suggest anger-management counselors. They could have a quiet talk with those members of Congress who, as the saying goes, do not get it. Possibly those experts have a gentle way of telling the defeated members that they are history. Maybe some will be led off to "The Daily Show" to join Jon Stewart in acting superior and laughing at his futile efforts at humor. Possibly there is a branch of psychiatry that deals specifically with delusions of victory. Its adepts can coax the defeated members of Congress out of their offices and into the sunlight. Let us face facts: It is going to be very difficult talking to these defeated Democrats.

Consider one who is going to be leaving her office very soon. Tuesday night, she said to a room filled with election workers, "We have taken the country in a new direction, and we are not going back to the failed policies of the past." That was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She was fully dressed, but there was an air of the manic about her. How is incoming Speaker of the House John A. Boehner going to deal with her when he arrives at her office? He may need a tranquilizer gun.

The reason it is difficult to deal with many of the defeated Democrats is that they do not recognize that Republicans even exist, or, for that matter, independents, who broke 55 percent for Republicans. These Democrats think history is with them and that the whole world is going their way, adopting huge stimulus policies, "cap-and-trade" and variations of Obamacare. They do not realize that there is no way to pay for their extravagance. Moreover, the civilized countries of the world, for instance Great Britain and France, are paring back entitlements and cutting budgets because they recognize they cannot pay for them.

The delusions are held not only by defeated members of Congress. Other members of what professor Angelo M. Codevilla calls "the ruling class" also share their benightedness. Ross Douthat, in a column in the New York Times Monday, said he thought Social Security, founded in the 1930s, was "achieved amid strong economic growth, rather than at the bottom of a recession." That is a unique perspective on the 1930s. He concluded that "Obama seems as if he would have been a wonderful chief executive in an era of prosperity and consensus, when he could have given soaring speeches every week and made us all feel tingly about America." Has Mr. Douthat heard the things Mr. Obama has actually said about America, its arrogance and its militarism?

Then there is the Times' David Brooks, who seems to be calling the incoming Republican majority in the House a party that has "developed a sense of modesty" and will act as Mr. Brooks tells it to act. On Nov. 11, 2008, he wrote that "the Republican Party will probably veer right in the years ahead, and suffer more defeats." That is a theme Mr. Brooks has reiterated time and again. Well, the party did "veer right" and in 2010 suffered the greatest off-year election victory in two generations. It will now go its own way irrespective of the judgments of Mr. Douthat and Mr. Brooks and the rest of the ruling class.

One of these popinjays' favorite judgments is that the Republican Party has no very well defined alternative to Mr. Obama's governance. It is the party of anger, and you cannot govern from anger. Yet this, too, is nonsense. The conservatives are not particularly angry, and they do have an alternative to Mr. Obama. The conservatives in the Republican Party and their reinforcements from the Tea Party have a perfectly workable alternative to Mr. Obama's socialism. It is Rep. Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future. It is a plan to grow the economy, cut spending and, in general, revive America. We shall be hearing more about it in the months to come.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is "After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery" (Thomas Nelson, 2010).

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