An outsider that looked at a system of 90% disapproval, with 90% non-adaptivity, would conclude there was some kind of fundamental flaw. Most Americans agree this is true of our political system. Ask a spectrum of Americans if they think the system is broken, and you’d have rare overwhelming consensus (disagreement would be brisk, however, when you ask them how to fix it). The fact that our political status quo is both hated and almost sure to suffer no consequence of that hatred has been true since that time Donald Trump, the most visible symptom of the brokenness, graced the cover of Playboy magazine in 1990. The 90% hate, 90% reward, indicates a very closed system. Donald Trump was an attempt to find a way around the barriers the system has erected to give itself that 90% incumbency.

Democrats must internalize the fact that they narrowly squeezed a win, led by their senior representative, against the most infamous ignoramus the modern world has ever known. A man who was a complete political neophyte before he was elected, and who was elected largely BECAUSE he was a neophyte. And, who beat their second-most senior representative last time around.

And the kicker: he was doing an acceptable job in the face of near complete opposition that included unprecedented pressure for impeachment from Congress. Like O.J. Simpson going into acting, Donald Trump simply announced that he was going to do the job, and did passing-OK at it. Economic growth was above average for a developed country; joblessness was at historic lows; he got us into no more wars (though he was thwarted by the pros in unwinding the wars they started); and he came up with no new ways to incarcerate We The Over-Incarcerated. That is more than can be said for either Biden or Clinton (or Harris). Plunk down someone similar next to me in my job, and there is no possibility he could function, in the slightest. That goes for any of you, dearest readers, whatever you do. Donald Trump could not so easily replace a Starbuck’s barista. Yet he caused no ruin (before COVID). This high-power, low accountability is a big part of the chronic hate.

So, for Democrats, the 2020 takeaway should be “it’s not you, it’s me.” It’s the product the Democrats are trying to sell. And their pitch availed them little, despite outspending Team Red by quite a bit . They might also reflect on the idea that their most recent popular success, the meteoric rise of Barack Obama to the Presidency, was a Yin rebuke of old-guard status quo (also BECAUSE Obama was a near-neophyte), while Donald Trump was the Yang.

In our most “transformational election in a lifetime,” we will continue to have an immovable status quo on:

1) Over-policing, where the most egregious offenders, Biden and Harris, were just rewarded with the highest jobs. Cities have been consumed in riots, yet progress on the underlying cause of the rage, distorted policing, is sparse-to-none (I’ve written on this subject too many times to link).

2) Useless wars of empire, where the most egregious offender (active on the political scene) was just rewarded with the highest job, despite his many blunders. Remember that time he, the man from Delaware, wanted to divide ancient Iraq into sections he’d define.

3) We are on an unsustainable spending trajectory. This is at the highest, and the lowest levels of government: Federal, down to local. It is the Democrats that are most responsible for the unchallengeable status quo of the municipal unions, which is the main cause of local insolvency. There has been no talk of change. Quite the opposite: the field of Democratic Presidential candidates all offered taxpayer “giveaway” programs at eye-watering expense. Accompanied with a convenient companion economic theory that the solidity of money now does not mean what it once did, with Modern Monetary Theory (the subject of another post). If Americans want to hear of solutions to problems that does not involve a delve anew into their wallets (or who are aware of the history of how currencies become debouched), the Democratic status quo continues to be immovable, likely to get worse.

Democrats’ failure to adapt their candidates is a microcosm of their refusal to adapt the way they govern. Democrats exist, mainly, as a coalition of those getting things from the government. When people see this is a poor and wasteful way to get things done, or that they are left out when the bribe-bargains are cut up (like with municipal unions), there is no spinning or messaging that will change that. The USA, under Democratic leadership, is always headed towards more top-down. From energy policy to healthcare policy, the approach is to concentrate, and disseminate power from the top-down.

Democrats, before the outcome of the 2020 election was assured, made much of the changes they would make to our system (the oldest continuous extent). All were changes that would make their top-down approach easier, and would insulate them from the “rest” of the country exercising their desire at the ballot box to see this approach restrained. From packing the Supreme Court, to adding Blue-friendly states like Puerto Rico and D.C., to the elimination of the filibuster, the changes will empower an approach that nobody likes, outside the cities (they are reminded that all of those top-down options are wide-open to them at more local levels). Democrats are also reminded that the oldest continuous political entity extent offers them a remedy if they are not getting their way politically: they can always win more elections.

Democrats conversely (but not coincidentally) made little of the changes they would make that would bring better results. I can recall no Democratic proposal to make a single change to a power they already hold, but brings poor outcomes (like education, like municipal unions).

Democrats wanting to change our system before they will adapt their approach is the most reasonable pro-Trump argument I heard during the election (not enough to cancel out Trump’s unforgivable coronavirus botch, at least for me). Democrats are also reminded that the oldest continuous political entity extent offers them a remedy if they are not getting their way politically: they can always win more elections.

For the Democrats to have broader appeal, so that important portions of the electorate are not desperate for alternative enough that they won’t pick another ignoramus/neophyte (or a repeat of Trump), they will need to perform. Performance for many Americans does not mean changing the rules of the game around their failure to be broadly popular. They might even try to adapt, in order to perform. Bill Clinton did that, and did well.

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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