by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Democrats in 2020 focused their electoral efforts on a single point: They were against Donald Trump. That might work in the presidential race, depending on how the final vote counts turn out, but in Senate and House races across the country, voters were not buying it. Activists, insiders, and social media might be anti-Trump all day, every day, but ordinary voters wanted leadership and moderation. By helping the Republicans keep the Senate and expand their minority in the House, they might just get it.
Several factors cause the Democrats’ delusion, but all relate to the same basic thing: living in a bubble. For party leaders, this is always a concern. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, like all members of Congress, live their daily lives surrounded by people who are as obsessed with politics as they are — and not just politics, but insider politics, the give-and-take of Washington power structures. …
… That vision of unreality is hard for anyone to overcome. The truly talented politicians manage it, though. Having a feel for the average Joe is not something that can be learned from a spreadsheet; it is innate. Bill Clinton is the last Democratic leader who could truly be said to have that gift. It let him push a progressive agenda just far enough, knowing when to stop and when to triangulate, a term he and Dick Morris popularized in 1996.
No one in the Democratic Party’s leadership today knows how to triangulate. Even when they strayed from their platform of Trump being bad, they focused on things that appeal mostly to their wealthy donors or their most radical constituents. …
… Pelosi and Schumer have drifted leftward in the 14 years since then and assumed the rest of the electorate has joined them. The results in 2020 show they are wrong.