- - Thursday, November 17, 2016


If the liberal Democrats had lost just the White House, and won everything else, they might have been content to blame Hillary Clinton and her manifold deficiencies. But the top to bottom shellacking they took couldn’t be rightly blamed on Hillary, the Electoral College, James Comey or even James Carville’s discovery that the FBI, the KGB and Donald Trump were part of a worldwide conspiracy to bring down the Democrats.

When the smoke began clearing, the ruins of the party were seen as greater than first feared: not only had the White House, the Senate and the House slipped away, but the Republicans had more governorships and state legislative chambers than ever. Now the Democrats are reordering things to make another swing at success in two years and then four years. But they’re doubling down on the people, the policies and the philosophies that are destroying their party. They’re determined to take the McGovern route to ruin.

It’s as if the Democrats want to be the party of intellectuals and ideologues incapable of appealing to the voters whose interests they claim to represent. Hillary Clinton and those like her talk about the working class and the middle class, but have little empathy for actual workers or members of the middle class, the very people who live in what they dismiss as “flyover country.” They’re like those in Eric Hoffer’s astute observation that Communists love the working class, but hate workers.

To widen their appeal, they’ve added Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin to the Senate leadership, perhaps on the assumption that since she hails from flyover country she must understand the voters who deserted the party on election day. But she is more like the party theorists who don’t get it than the people who live in Wisconsin. She hails from Madison and is a “progressive,” as liberals now want to be called, and marches in lockstep with Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren.

Many Democrats may think that Rep. Keith Ellison, who compared President George W. Bush to Hitler and chairs the House Progressive Caucus, is just the man to lead the party as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. But he’s a Muslim — unfair as it may be, Muslims are not the taste of choice this season — and he resides on the leftmost edge of the party. One more step and off he goes into a deep hole in space. Shaming the voters didn’t work in 2016 and blaming them for their inability to understand what’s good for them won’t work any better in 2018 or 2020.

Sen. Baldwin, Mr. Ellison and the rest of the Democrats should look at what happened in one county in eastern Kentucky to see what they have done to a once-proud and robust political party. Elliot County, Kentucky, before Nov. 8 was the most reliably Democratic County in the United States. For 144 years, through wars and recessions, landslides and mudslides, voters had consistently voted Democratic, and by huge margins. Barack Obama carried Elliot County in 2008 with 61 percent of the vote. Democrats this year enjoyed an almost 10 to 1 registration advantage in Elliot County, but Donald Trump won it this year by 3 to 1.

The idea that Democrats espousing what the late Jeane Kirkpatrick described as “San Francisco values” will win back the voters of Elliot County, are living in a parallel universe. It gets cold out there in the outer suburbs of the cosmos.

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