If Sens. Manchin and Sinema were waiting for a sign, here it is.
Elections were held yesterday in several hot spots throughout the country- in case anyone hadn’t heard.
Republicans, all things considered, did very well whereas Democrats have far less to celebrate today. In the wake of political newcomer Glenn Youngkin’s (R-VA) victory over former VA governor Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), political analysts and experts are busily predicting everything from another wave of retirements among Democrats in Congress to enough mail-in ballots tipping the scale back towards Democrats in the coming days.
Most agree that history was made by Republican Winsome Sears, who beat her Democratic challenger to become the first female African-American Lieutenant Governor in Virginia history. This might have partially been due to the ocean of campaign ads against her, many of which, perhaps unwisely, pictured Sears looking exactly like the sort of person you’d put in charge if crime rose sharply in your state.
Sears is also a Jamaican immigrant and a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Winsome Sears is what Terry McAuliffe might have been, had the Virginia Democratic Party primary went a different way. The one-time governor and former Clinton-man may have seemed like a safer bet to establishment Democrats than two female African-American state office holders, but it seems they were wrong.
Sears’ election is proof a Black female Democrat would have done very well against Republican Glenn Youngkin.
While the experts and analysts parse the results ad nauseam, with extra prizes to whomever figures out how to stoke and/or placate their base better or faster, moderates of all parties are seeing a bit of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel of polarization and venom.
Progressives who want to govern more sharply to the left do not have a mandate for their most radical proposals and spending packages.
In liberal strongholds, purple districts, red counties and blue states; far-left progressive policies and candidates received a sharp rebuke from voters who flooded the ballot box with their displeasure.
In Minneapolis, voters soundly defeated efforts to “defund” the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with an experiment called the “Department of Public Safety,”- like that doesn’t sound ominous at all.
In New Jersey, a place President Joe Biden carried by double digits just a year ago, the real shocker played out on election night.
Polls, as worthless as they have become with each successive election, naturally failed to predict the New Jersey race would be anywhere near as close as it is. Instead, polls consistently showed incumbent Murphy with an 8+ point advantage. Of course, now we see the race was always much closer than that.
Even if Democratic incumbent Governor Phil Murphy manages to hold onto his seat, that his Republican challenger came this close to beating him is chilling for Democratic Party analysts.
Until they find a way to spin it away, for themselves and their media audiences, progressives will be asking themselves: What are we missing in places like Virginia and New Jersey?
The answer, of course, is the concerns of the working-class.
Republicans out-performed with Hispanic and Latin-American voters in Virginia and New Jersey this election, above and beyond the trend which has been growing over the past five years since Donald Trump so effectively courted their vote.
Time and again, political insiders and analysts have warned Democrats that their increasing emphasis on race is alienating voters from this growing demographic. It doesn’t get as many retweets, and isn’t likely to generate any anger or racial animus, but the concerns of working-class voters of Hispanic or Latin-American heritage are the same as any other working-class voter:
The economy, education, healthcare, and the economy.
There is no question that COVID-19 mitigation measures, pushed especially hard by Democrats, have caused deep, perhaps irreparable damage to small businesses throughout the country, many of them owned by first-generation U.S. citizens. Whether or not all of the shut-downs were necessary, or even sensible, time will tell.
What small businesses do know is that state and local governments shut their businesses down while Amazon made enough money to send Jeff Bezos to space and back.
Now, with inflation burgeoning out of control, rising prices at the pump, a season of spectacularly high heating bills on the horizon, a shipping crisis with no chance of ending anytime soon, a humanitarian crisis at the Southern border and another in Afghanistan, Democrats in Washington should perhaps be pushing measures likely to reverse these trends.
Instead progressives have been trying to force through even more massive spending packages designed to “fundamentally transform America”, filled with liberal wish-list items that never would have seen the light of day before COVID-19 brought the U.S. to its knees.
With razor-thin majorities in the House and the Senate, moderation would have perhaps been a better bet.
The Joe Manchins of the Democratic Party, of which there are obviously very many, are the silent type; the same cannot be said for progressive lawmakers and their faithful Twitter followings.
The thing about Twitter followings, social media, and online life in general; it isn’t real.
Not everyone is on Twitter; only 22% of American adults, to say nothing of registered voters.
Anyone can drum up an online mob on social media for any reason. Organizers of online “naming” contests frequently find themselves bearing the brunt of such efforts. For this reason, a state-of-the-art scientific survey vessel was named Boaty McBoatface and Greenpeace named a whale Mister Splashy Pants. Likewise, rapper Pitbull was banished to Alaska to perform and a contest for a Taylor Swift concert was “won” by a High School for the deaf; they got the most votes but contest organizers “reorganized” the ill-fated effort.
In spite of this, the Democratic Party has been pandering to its most vocal members on Twitter- ever demanding of more and more left-leaning proposals and policies.
The American people aren’t stupid; that these great new programs will cost money to implement, at least in the short term, isn’t lost on them.
Voting for more spending, when there has already been so much spending, is bound to lead to more inflation. For Manchin, he knows passing this bill will lead to even more skyrocketing fuel and heating costs.
Progressives in the Democratic Party don’t care if gasoline reaches $7.50, the way it has in California. Progressives want gas to be that expensive because it will force everyone to drive less, fly less, buy less.
What progressives don’t understand about this strategy is something Joe Manchin and the people who vote for him do; $7.50 gas won’t really force everyone to drive less, fly less, and buy less- only the poor and struggling working-class.
Joe Manchin’s constituents, by and large, do in fact care that heating and energy costs have risen so dramatically. While the U.S. industry has been handcuffed by recent restrictions, importing more oil, natural gas and coal from places like Russia and OPEC hardly seems to be a more environmentally friendly option.
Progressives do not have a mandate to govern as far to the left as they’d like; but the moderates of the Democratic Party, like Manchin and Sinema, have a very strong mandate.
Last night, they were given a clear message from voters in Virginia and New Jersey with the same concerns working-class voters have in West Virginia and Arizona.
The season for excessive, plague-level spending in Washington is over. The season of digging out from the mess working-class America currently finds itself in has begun.
Will Democratic Party progressives heed this warning? Or continue to court Twitter audiences?
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)