Friends, foes, and even casual acquaintances of the Republican Party insist that disaster looms. And, indeed, the odds are that the Grand Old Party will lose in November. But that’s the short run. In the long run, the Democrats, not the Republicans, face calamity.
The parties’ respective situations are illustrated by the legendary exchange between Winston Churchill and Bessie Braddock, when the plumpish Labor Party MP spied the Prime Minister deep in his cups. “Sir Winston,” she said, “you are drunk.” “Bessie,” he replied, “you are ugly. But tomorrow, I’ll be sober.”
This year, the Republican Party is drunk. But its inebriation with Trump is a short term affliction. In due course, the Party will sober up and dump him. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is stuck with a set of ugly positions which they cannot disavow or abandon. Whether the Democrats win or lose in November, those positions are likely to grow even more repellent with time, and they will weigh the Party down.
Here are the blemishes the Democratic Party sees when it looks in the mirror.
Obamacare. Since its passage in March 2010, the Affordable Health Care Act has never been popular. Time is making it even more unpopular. The state exchanges through which Americans were supposed to purchase health insurance are in trouble. When the law passed, the Congressional Budget Office projected 21 million people would use the exchanges by now. Instead, about 12 million are. And those that are using them are disproportionately sick and poor. So insurance companies are losing money and pulling out. Aetna has lost $430 million since January 2014, and has reduced its participation from 15 states to 4. United Healthcare has lost $1.3 billion, and has reduced its participation from 34 states to 3. This creates a negative spiral known in the trade as “adverse selection.” As insurers pull out, premiums rise, and as premiums rise, healthier people opt out, leaving behind a disproportionately sick and old pool of insureds. So premiums rise even more: Blue Cross Blue Shield has requested a 62% increase in its premiums in Tennessee, and a 65% increase in Arizona.
True, more people are insured today than ever before, and the Democratic Party can take credit for that. But for most Americans, Obamacare has meant higher premiums and less choice. Politically, the issue is a liability.
Crime. Murder rates are rising in 25 of the nation’s largest cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, and Cleveland – all of which have seen heavily publicized protests by the Black Lives Matter movement after police-involved deaths of black males. In Chicago, for example, 13 people were killed over the Labor Day weekend. Gun-homicides for the year (512) already exceed all of last year, and are on pace to be the deadliest year since 1998.
The Democratic Party convention featured mothers of black men killed in confrontations with the police, as the delegates chanted “Black Lives Matter.” The Party has bought into the myth that the police pose the biggest threat to urban blacks. But according to Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute, incidents in which police kill black males, though heavily publicized, are extremely rare. In Chicago, through August 30, there were 2,870 shootings. Nearly all the victims were black civilians killed by other black civilians. The number of victims shot by the police was about 0.6%. In fact, a higher percentage of white and Hispanic homicides (12%) are a result of police action than black homicides (4%), and statistically it is more likely for a police officer to be killed by a black male than the other way around.
With violent crime rising, and with Democrats associating themselves more closely with the critics of the police than with the police, the Party is on a politically dangerous course. Richard Nixon resurrected his moribund political career and captured the White House twice by running on a law-and-order platform. Democrats called his platform racist – and the electorate responded by giving them a whopping 42.7% of the vote in 1968 and 37.5% in 1972.
College Campus Lunacy. American universities have never been more alien to the American people. In this strange new world, saying that one “is colorblind” or that “America is the land of opportunity” or that “the most qualified person should get the job” – are all considered racist “microaggressions.” Students have called for trigger warnings – alerts that potentially distressing topics are about to be presented – for Greek mythology, Roman poetry, and The Great Gatsby. (The latter because Fitzgerald’s novel depicts domestic abuse and graphic violence.)
This same childish fragility extends to the realm of politics. When someone chalked “Trump 2016” on the sidewalk at Emory, students immediately protested – not that they were in disagreement but that they were in pain. According to the student newspaper, the Emory Wheel, they gathered in the quad shouting: “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” Then they moved into the administration building, chanting “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Instead of telling the students to grow up and get out of the building, Jim Wagner, the University President, met with the students and fawned: “During our conversation, they voiced their genuine concern and pain in the face of this perceived intimidation.”
The college students of today are the political leaders of tomorrow. Hillary Clinton, for example, was an outspoken student activist at Wellesley, but she didn’t talk much about her pain. Today’s students, who go running to the University administration for comfort upon seeing chalked slogans supporting a political opponent, will graduate and gravitate to the Democratic Party. In time, they will become its leaders, bringing with them the attitudes and values which they absorbed in their college years. A party attracting such sensitive snowflakes is a party in trouble.
Iran. The biggest potential wart on the Democratic Party’s visage is Iran. President Obama sought and obtained a treaty with the country, effectively clearing the way for them to become a nuclear power in the future, for one reason: he believed he could convert a foe into a friend.
So far, it hasn’t worked out that way. Earlier this month, the Iranian military threatened to shoot down two Navy surveillance aircraft flying in international airspace. That was only the latest in a string of provocative incidents. There were five occasions in which Iranian fast boats harassed U.S. Naval ships in international waters last month alone. In July, Iran conducted their fourth ballistic missile test in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution tied to the treaty. Thanks to the release by the Obama administration of $1.7 billion in frozen funds – including $400 million in cash piled on wooden pallets – Iran has been able to increase its support of the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations.
Meanwhile, it is evident that Iran is cheating on the treaty. German intelligence recently reported that Iran has pursued a “clandestine” program of acquiring illicit nuclear technology and equipment from German companies. Chancellor Merkel, a supporter of the treaty, told the German Parliament that Iran was acting “in clear contradiction” of its obligations. Most ominously, Iran recently installed an advanced Russian-made air defense battery at its Fordow nuclear facility. Under the treaty, Iran had promised to stop enriching uranium enrichment at the site for 15 years, and to convert it into a research facility. If its present business is peaceful, why protect it with one of the most advanced anti-missile systems in the world? Even the U.S. State Department, which never misses an opportunity to vouch for Iran’s good intentions, confessed “concern” over the move.
President Obama’s strategy has failed, at least in the short run. Iran has not become a “friend.” The only question is how lethal an enemy it is – and will be in the future. The Party has made itself hostage to the mullahs’ regime. If they continue to function as the world’s premier sponsor of terrorism, the Democrats will suffer. If they go beyond that, and make Iran the first terrorist state in possession of nuclear weapons, the Party will suffer so badly that it could be years, if not decades, before the American electorate ever trusts them to manage foreign policy again.
Obamacare. Crime. College PC. Iran. These are long-term problems for the Democratic Party, problems that are fundamentally different from those that the Republican Party faces with Donald Trump. The Republican Party can and likely will distance itself from Donald Trump after November. The Democratic Party possesses no such luxury.
Instead, the Democrats are attached to positions that are currently unpopular and likely to become even more unpopular in the future. And these attachments are irrevocable. For example, as premiums continue to rise, Democrats cannot walk away from Obamacare. They are tied to it and will have to endure the consequences. As Iran marches toward nuclear armament, Democrats cannot disavow the treaty their President foisted on Congress.
Which leads to the most fundamental difference between the two parties. The Republicans, for all their current woes, remain masters of their fate. They made a major mistake in hitching their fortunes to a reality TV personality. But they can correct that mistake in time. The Democrats are hostages to fortune. Actions by others will control their destiny. The Party’s future lies in the hands of insurance companies, urban gangs, college sophomores, and theocratic mullahs.
The Democrats’ predicament is nightmarish. But in the morning, the Republicans will be sober.