VA and NJ: The Democrat brand is completely toxic barely 10 months after President Biden took office

Once upon a time, Biden was a moderate who would bring the country together and return us to normalcy after the tumult of the Trump years.  This was a powerful message, but the reality of his presidency has been radically different and other Democrat politicians are now paying the price.

The progressive political world is reeling from the equivalent of two thermonuclear bombs in Virginia and New Jersey.  In Virginia, Glenn Youngkin defeated heavy favorite former governor Terry McCauliffe by a respectable 3-point margin, the Republicans also won two other state wide elections for Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor, putting the first Cuban American and Jamaican American woman in those roles respectively, and took control over the state house.  This represents a remarkable swing after Joe Biden handily defeated Donald Trump by slightly over 10 points just last year and no Republican has won a statewide election there since 2009.  In New Jersey, incumbent Democrat governor Phil Murphy hung on by literal thread, winning by merely 1.6% in a race he was expected to win by anywhere from 8 to 14 points.  Before this past Tuesday, both states were considered Democrat strongholds, safely blue for the foreseeable future.

President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and former President Barack Obama all made personal campaign appearances in Virginia, putting their prestige and influence on the line.  The voters, however, were unimpressed, and even reliable propaganda organs like CNN were completely shocked at the outcome.  On election night, Jake Tapper could only say “Oh my God” as he looked on in disbelief.  The next day the network declared that “Democrats need a reckoning after misjudging the nation’s mood” in an analysis by Mr. Tapper’s colleague, Stephen Collinson. He wrote, “Demoralized Democrats need a reckoning after a rough election night that sent serious warning signs that they have misjudged the nation’s mood as their window closes before next year’s midterms.” Mr. Collinson believes Republicans succeeded because they focused on pressing issues like “a sluggish economy, high gas prices, expensive groceries, crime rates and concerns about the rights of parents to influence what is taught in schools” while Democrats were busy feuding with one another over their massive social spending spree.  Ultimately, both races “reinforced a sense that the President’s party has lost the country’s confidence as he struggles to live up to his vow to restore competency to the White House and post-pandemic normality to American life.”

In other words, less than a year into the Biden presidency, the Democrat brand has turned practically toxic, so poisonous Obama himself couldn’t save it.  Virginia and New Jersey were not the only setbacks either.  The progressive candidate appears headed for defeat in the Seattle mayor’s race, and the Minneapolis plan to defund and dismantle the police suffered a crushing defeat.  Regardless, many progressives aren’t nearly as clear-eyed about this massive shift away from the Democrat party and liberal policies as Mr. Collinson.  MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace insisted that “Critical Race Theory, which isn’t real, turned the suburbs 15 points to the Trump insurrection endorsed Republican.”  Joy Reid, also on MSNBC, said education “is code for ‘white parents don’t like the idea about teaching about race.’”  MSNBC picked up the racial them on their “The Reidout Blog” with a post by Ja’han Jones claiming “Glenn Youngkin’s victory proves white ignorance is a powerful weapon.”  He wrote, “Youngkin, who received Donald Trump’s endorsement in May, led a largely ill-defined campaign, often hewing close to the former president’s 2020 election lies while also coyly trying to distance himself from them. Similar to Trump, Youngkin is a businessman with no political experience whose campaign focused on hot-button social topics — like outrage over school curricula — rather than substantive policy discussions.”  He believes “Youngkin adopted the conservative strategy of falsely grouping these lesson plans under the label of ‘critical race theory,’ and he promised to ban such teachings ‘on day one’ if elected.”  Mr Jones repeated the canard that “Critical race theory is a college-level field of study that’s not taught in Virginia K-12 schools,” but “it’s become a catchall phrase for intellectually lazy people — many of them white — who want to stigmatize any discussion about American racism.”

What’s that about being in a hole and keeping on digging?

Ultimately, this election and the aftermath show how stupid progressives truly think voters are.  Last weekend, Democrat operatives showed up at a Youngkin event in Virginia with tiki torches in the rain, posing as white supremacists.  This proved to be a microcosm of the entire campaign:  Progressives believe people are too dumb and blind to see what’s happening right in front of their very eyes and incapable of drawing even the most basic conclusions.  Everyone understands that constitutional law is also a topic that’s only taught in college and law school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach elementary school student’s basic civics.  In this case, Critical Race Theory is the overarching manifesto and theory while demonizing white kids for the crime of being born is the version adapted for young children.  It’s not hard to see that there’s a distinct difference between teaching students about our tortured racial history and claiming the country was founded in 1619 rather than 1776.  Educated, affluent suburban parents who loathed Trump for his bombast, braggadocio, and bullying style instinctively understand this, and progressive attempts to talk their way out of a debacle of their own making cannot change the underlying reality.

Of course, it doesn’t help that McAuliffe and Murphy were both flawed messengers, prone to making stupid statements that reveal their inner disdain for the voters themselves.  Much has been made of McAuliffe’s statement that parents should stay out of their children’s education, but Murphy made a similar gaffe when he claimed, “If taxes are your issue, then New Jersey’s probably not your state.”  Taxes, needless to say, are everyone’s issue in a state where property taxes alone can easily cost the same per month as leasing a new Porsche.  Both statements reveal a complete and total disregard for the day-to-day concerns of their citizens, the unmistakable subtext being we know what’s best, just mind your own business and like it in the meantime.  It shouldn’t be surprising that voters don’t like being talked down to.

Nor should it be surprising that voters are intuitive enough to understand they were completely swindled by Democrats and the mainstream media in last year’s election.  Back then, Biden was a moderate who would bring the country together and return us to normalcy after the tumult of the Trump years.  This was a powerful message, but the reality of the Biden presidency has been vastly different.  Almost across the board, he has pursued self-evidently progressive policies and sidelined moderates to the point of claiming the harassment of a female Senator in the bathroom is just a part of the process.  Further, he has completely alienated Republican office holders and voters to the point of refusing to argue in favor of passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill he supposedly supports and equating anyone interested in the security of elections to be the equivalent of a Confederate fighting for slavery in the Civil War.  There is nothing normal about record high gas and grocery prices, shortages of everything, a never-ending pandemic, a broken border, and the defeat in Afghanistan.

The Democrats appear to believe that not being Donald Trump is enough to overcome these obvious, radical inconsistencies from what was promised barely a year ago.  In fact, they’re shocked that the Trump card is simply not proving to be enough.  Jill Lawrence, writing for USA Today, asked, “How could voters who are young, suburban, financially pressed or pandemic weary consider a party like today’s Republicans, much less reward this GOP? It’s beyond comprehension to many people, including me.”  In her mind, the most important issue for voters should’ve been “saving America from former President Donald Trump’s incendiary brand of corruption, lies and threats to democracy.”  It’s impossible for them to accept that Trump lost a close election, meaning a large plurality of voters never bought into this extreme anti-Trump rhetoric, and that he remains by far the most popular Republican among conservatives.  In other words, after five years of caterwauling about the catastrophe of Trump, most voters still aren’t buying it.

This willful blindness isn’t limited to Trump either.  It’s equally impossible for progressives to understand that the average person has moved on from coronavirus after the vaccine was widely available.  McAuliffe ran on the full panoply of mandates and other restrictions including masking in schools.  As late as Tuesday evening, Democrat strategists were claiming these positions were popular with voters and might well put him over the top, refusing to acknowledge that there’s a difference between these things in principle and in practice.  In principle, I believe most voters would prefer the highest possible vaccination rate and, when asked about a mandate in isolation, they might say they support it.  In practice, however, very, very few people believe a nurse or other front-line worker should be fired over it, nor will they be enthused about the resulting worker shortages, disruptions in police and fire departments, etc.  Likewise, you might tell some pollster you’re all about masking up your kid, but actually putting the mask on and knowing your kindergartner is strapped into the thing all day at school is a different matter.

These truths should be obvious to anyone who dabbles in politics.  They should certainly be immediately apparent to anyone paid to work in politics, but progressives seem incapable of accepting anything resembling reality.  In their mind, it’s their moment and the ascendancy of progressive ideals is assured.  Ms. Lawrence, for example, is “confident Democrats will pass their two transformative ‘Build Back Better’ bills – one to improve rail, roads, broadband and other physical infrastructure, the other to invest in families, children, education, the ‘care’ economy and curbs on climate change.”  She even goes so far as to accuse voters of penalizing McAuliffe because the Democrats have so far failed to pass them, saying “it could be on its way to Biden this week, and where’s the justice in penalizing McAuliffe, whose party and president are about to deliver on a promise Trump failed to keep?  Why penalize McAuliffe and his party for trying so hard and so publicly to improve so many people’s lives?”

At no point does it occur to her or other progressives that these initiatives and the associated price tags aren’t nearly as popular with voters as they believe, especially in the midst of massive inflation, a supply chain crisis, a disaster on the border, a defeat in Afghanistan, and a spike in crime.  Biden promised a return to normalcy, and yet the progressive plan is to rewrite the social contract in America in a way that’s anything but normal to most Americans.  A return to normalcy would, in fact, be the opposite:  Fix the problems in front of you, pave some roads, and build some bridges, then come talk to us about your ideas for a socialist utopia.  Fortunately for Republicans, Democrats remain unable to understand and accept this, but, much as I enjoy watching them squirm a bit, it’s unfortunate for the country as a whole.  Biden will be in office for more than three years.  We can’t afford a completely wasted presidency.  It’s up to him to teach his own party this lesson and make sure it doesn’t happen, but somehow I highly doubt that will happen.

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