Listening to House Democrat leaders the day after the Virginia and New Jersey elections, you’d be forgiven for thinking the elections hadn’t taken place – either that, or no one had bothered to inform Speaker Pelosi and her lieutenants of the results. How else to explain her decision to force a paid family leave program back into the still-evolving “Build Back Socialist” reconciliation bill over West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin’s objections? Or her insistence that the bill – still a grab bag of radical leftwing policy proposals designed to fundamentally alter the relationship between the citizen and the state, and put the state even more firmly in control of individual lives than it already is – be voted on as early as possible, even when she knows it will not survive the Senate intact? Plus, she also knows that moving now rather than later will cause potentially career-ending damage to a significant segment of her own caucus for no good reason.
If there’s one thing you can count on in American politics, it’s this – radical Democrats will always fail to understand (or deliberately ignore?) the messages sent by the electorate. No matter how elections turn out, they continue to insist that the Democrat Party must work harder and faster to implement their socialist agenda, and they will never tolerate the possibility that perhaps, maybe, their best move would be to slow down and reassess their options.
For the latest evidence of this axiom, we need look no further than Pelosi and one of her senior lieutenants, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Wednesday, reporters talked to both of them.
Why did former Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe fail in his bid to return to the governor’s mansion in Richmond? Could it have been because Virginia voters – who just one year ago gave a double-digit landslide victory in the presidential contest to Joe Biden – have soured on the Democrat agenda, and rejected it by voting for the Republican candidate?
Asked what McAuliffe’s loss meant for the Democrat agenda, Pelosi told reporters “she doesn’t believe the Virginia loss impacts their timetable.” Clyburn went further: “It just reinforces the fact that we need to get these things done … It should make it easier.”
Stop and ask yourself: Would either of those answers have been different if McAuliffe had won? Likely not.
This is not news to anyone who has followed Pelosi and her ilk for any length of time. Assessment of voter considerations has never been a strong suit of hers – remember, she plowed right ahead and forced through passage of Obamacare and even made her vulnerable members walk the plank to vote for a carbon tax (that the Senate never even considered, because they knew it was so politically toxic) right before losing 63 seats in the midterm elections of 2010.
Irony abounds: Of the 52 House Democrats who lost their reelection efforts in that 2010 midterm “shellacking,” 23 were freshmen, and another 11 were sophomores. So about two-thirds of the House Democrats whose losses in 2010 flipped control back to the Republicans in 2011 were members of the classes of 2006 and 2008, the very classes that had made Speaker Pelosi Speaker Pelosi in the first place.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, by contrast, rightly crowed on Wednesday, arguing that – based on the results in New Jersey, where, despite losing the state in last year’s presidential contest by 16 points, Republicans had fought back to a dead heat – “If you’re a Democrat, and President Biden won your seat by 16 points, you’re in a competitive race next year. You are no longer safe.”
If I were a House Democrat first elected in 2018 or 2020, and I were thinking about my own prospects for reelection next year, I’d probably be more than a bit nervous this week and next, as the House considers this leftwing grab bag. I might be more likely to think McCarthy had a better point than Pelosi and Clyburn. And I might act accordingly.
But that's just me.