The supposed silver lining for Democrats after their mid-term-election bloodbath – in which they sank in the House to the smallest minority since the 1930s and also lost control of the Senate – is that they still “won on the issues.”
This after President Obama declared that even though he wasn’t on the ballot, his policies were. This even though Democratic candidates, who fled in panic from both Obama and his policies, took a worse "shellacking" than they did four years earlier.
This after President Obama declared that if Republicans wanted to change his avowed “transformation” of the country, they should “go out and win an election.”
Ah, but when it came to ballot questions, Democrats contend, voters chose the Democratic positions.
Well, if by that they mean that four states approved government-mandated increases in the minimum wage, they’re right. And I suspect that is the kind of trade Republicans would be delighted to make every election: Come 2016, we’ll win the presidency and expand our majorities in both houses of Congress, and you guys can win a couple more ballot questions.
But even that claim is flimsy. The minimum wage ballot questions - which drew bipartisan support, by the way - weren’t the only ones out there. For some reason, I haven’t heard Dems talking much about what happened in true-blue Oregon (one of the few states to offer the liberal dream of assisted suicide) to Measure 88, a ballot referendum seeking approval for “special” driver’s licenses to be issued to illegal immigrants “without requiring proof of legal presence in the United States.”
The question drew even more votes than one about legalizing marijuana. And it went down by a ratio of more than 2-to-1. That’s even though those in favor – a coalition of left-leaning lobbyists, activists, labor unions and Hollywood stars – outspent the opponents 10-to-1. What was that about Republicans trying to “buy” elections?
Maybe the vote had something to do with President Obama’s regular refrain that he wants to preside over a country where “everybody plays by the same rules.”
Natural-born citizens have to provide valid documentation to get a driver’s license, not to mention a host of other things like getting a job, registering to vote, qualifying for a loan and getting on an airplane.
So perhaps the president, who is planning to change the rules for about 4.5 million people who have no “proof of legal presence in the United States,” should think about it. The “American people,” a label he gives only to those who support him, given a chance to weigh in on an issue like that, are fiercely opposed.
Then there are the “women’s issues," which several Democratic candidates desperately sought to inflame in hopes of frightening voters into supporting them. Democrat Wendy Davis, who became a media darling as a Texas state senator for filibustering a Republican-backed bill that would have put some restrictions on abortion, lost her run for governor in a landslide. She didn’t even win a majority of the female vote.
Soon to be ex-Sen. Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, tried to run on contraception and abortion to the point where more than half his ads were on so-called “women’s issues,” as if women’s identities and political philosophies are informed solely by their gender.
Eventually, even the state’s mainstream press started referring to him as Mark Uterus. The label stuck – women seem to be increasingly tired of being patronized – and Republican Congressman Cory Gardner cruised to victory.
This, in fact, turns on its head the belief of Obama and his true believers that women long to be “protected” by government, as portrayed in the “Life of Julia,” the 2012 campaign ad in which a generic woman is unable to get through any phase of her life without support from the federal government “under President Obama.”
Women long ago rejected the notion that they need a man to take care of them. Apparently an increasing number are starting to feel the same way about a patronizing federal government that views them as helpless.
Yet, Obama remains in his apparently comfortable cocoon of denial. The losses, the president said this past week, weren’t because his policies were wrong but simply because he hadn’t sold them, or explained them, effectively.
This kind of false modesty is a paper-thin veneer for his real message to American voters: You voted wrong because you just didn’t understand.
Indeed, that was the message from his cadre of loyal opinion writers, who contend that voters are too dumb to understand what is good for them. That was the message from Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor and one of the architects of Obamacare, who said last year that the law had to be sold with lies because voters were too stupid to be trusted with the truth.
This reminds me of various meetings of city and town boards that I used to cover, when various groups would come before them seeking something. The boards would listen. They would ask for public comment. Sometimes they would approve requests and other times would deny them. Almost invariably, those on the losing end would contend that the only reason they were rejected was because the board “didn’t listen” or “didn’t understand.”
In other words, “if you really listen to me, then you will agree with me.”
That kind of arrogant elitism is an issue, as well. And it is one that will continue to be a loser for Democrats.
Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org