Republicans should get some comfort from the fact that liberals remain largely unchastened following their barnyard whipping and aren't likely to take corrective action anytime soon to bring themselves more in line with the electorate.
Why would anyone expect Democratic leaders to learn from these elections -- or any others -- given their fundamental disrespect for voters? You heard me correctly. Liberals have a patronizing attitude toward people, and voters are people. And liberals still run the Democratic Party.
The far left has controlled the Democratic Party for more than a generation, and there's no sign that it will relinquish the reins anytime soon. I know the apparent fallacy in this argument: Bill Clinton was a product of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, and he ran as a moderate both times.
Even many on the right fell for this ruse, but in fact, Clinton was never really a Third Way moderate, except when temporarily necessary to be elected or redeem himself from disfavor. I could point to the simple fact that he was the darling of the Hollywood left and rest my case. But there's much more -- that I'll save for another column.
Regardless of whether I'm right about Clinton, there can be little doubt that most of the Democrats' constituencies and benefactors are leftists, from unions to radical feminists. If the "moderates" ever hope to regain control of the party, they're going to have to find other sources of funding. How ironic, given the Democrats' complaint about the pervasiveness of Republican special interest money in the congressional elections.
Some Democrats, such as Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, seem to be catching on, but most are hanging on bitterly to the past. Al Gore, who's urging a regrouping, whatever that means, clearly doesn't get it. Nancy Pelosi and her many supporters are likewise oblivious. But Massachusetts Senator John Kerry so far takes the cake.
On ABC's "This Week," he expressed incredulity at the election results. He grumbled about the need for real leadership, which is amazing, given President Bush's demonstrable record on that score. He then lamented that workers "voted against their (own) economic interests because they voted for people who have taken their money, literally, out of Social Security, out of Medicare and given it to the wealthiest Americans."
Kerry might as well have said, "People need us because they don't know what's good for them -- they don't even understand how to vote." Is that not unbridled arrogance?
When you think about it, that attitude pretty much sums up liberalism. The "party of the little people" must deny these people (their wards) their freedom because they aren't capable of managing it without Democratic supervision. That explains their horror at the prospect of privatizing even a tiny portion of Social Security -- it is too risky to entrust people with the smallest fraction of their government retirement accounts. Too risky compared to Social Security itself? We're talking about an institution headed for certain bankruptcy absent major reform -- the very reform Democrats refuse to endorse.
According to their worldview, it's not just that people are incompetent to handle
their own affairs. It's also that conservatives are evil for believing in the individual, because without paternalistic government he will be devoured by the big-monied, uncompassionate scavengers on the right.
What better place to look for confirmation of this than the New York Times? Its columnist Bob Herbert recently portrayed conservatives as so mean-spirited they are deliberately running up deficits in order to starve welfare programs and harm people. He wrote, "There is a method to the G.O.P.'s tax-cut madness, beyond the obvious benefits to the very rich. Conservatives have long reasoned that the only way to destroy popular programs that actually help ordinary Americans (Social Security, Medicare and so on) is to starve the government of the money needed to pay for them."
After further indicting Republicans for being "hostile to environmental protection, and to the myriad health and safety regulations that protect Americans against poisonous foods and other dangerous products and practices," Herbert concluded with his assessment of Republicans. "Slick? Adroit? Any number of adjectives will do. How about dangerous?"
So, there you have it. For the foreseeable future Democrats believe they must protect people from themselves, and more importantly, from conservatives. As long as they continue to believe that (and express it), the prospects for the Republican Party, and in turn, the American people are excitingly bright.