The November 4 Elections: American Voters Punish Political Fanatics

Ralph Benko
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Posted: Nov 18, 2014 12:01 AM
The November 4 Elections: American Voters Punish Political Fanatics

Voters have shown, yet again, that we do not like political fanatics. “Fanatic” is defined by my resident dictionary as “a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, esp. for an extreme … political cause.” The Republican Party, in the nuanced language of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), “crushed,” everywhere, its fanatical wing during the past election cycle.

This implies no animus toward the Tea Party, of which I am a self-identified member. But there were factions within the Tea Party, and a few rump hotheads, who are, in fact, fanatics willing to go to such counterproductive extremes as shutting down the government. The fanatics have been marginalized. The GOP then marginalized fanatical Democrats.

Conservative grownups now are in charge of the GOP in both House and Senate. The GOP has yet to crystallize a vision on how to bring about a solid climate of equitable prosperity and job creation (by reining in a rogue Fed, perhaps), civil liberties (such as the free exercise of religion), and the pursuit of happiness (through traditional values). These can be threshed out in the upcoming presidential cycle.

The GOP could, of course, stumble. As of now, though, it looks like the 114th Congress is more likely to do right by, rather than wrong to, America.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party’s fanatics have Occupied their Party. Appalled, we voters administering crushing losses to Democrats across-the-board, at every level: Senate, House, Governorships, State legislatures, Dogcatchers. The Democratic Party leadership — fanatics — have implied that their response to the repudiation by the voters will be to double (or triple or quadruple) down on the Castor oil they wish to dose us with.

Nancy Pelosi, possibly one of the most toxic Leaders in House history, was reported by the Washington Times as saying that

the chief message Mrs. Pelosi took from Tuesday’s election, which saw Democrats eviscerated at all levels, seems to have been that hypothetical “voter suppression” was the problem:

‘To succeed, we must inspire, educate and remove obstacles to participation. Only by changing our political environment and broadening the universe of the electorate can we build a strong sense of community and an economy that works for everyone,’ she said.

Cringe comedy? One explanation tendered for Democratic loyalty to Pelosi: her massive fundraising prowess, Politico reporting her as having raised over $100 million in campaign contributions in this election cycle and four times that since her original election.

This sale of a birthright for a mess of pottage, coming from the Party that vilifies its opposition as the Party of Big Money, drips with irony. And, the election results imply, this is an irony not lost on us voters. The bottom line?

Nancy Pelosi is a political fanatic. Tolerating her in leadership damages the Democrats.

Harry Reid provided what superficially sounded like a conciliatory note

The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together. I look forward to working with Senator McConnell to get things done for the middle class.

Which was, of course, Newspeak for demanding that the Republicans adopt elements of the progressive agenda (whose programs, in empirical fact, often do not serve middle income voters — which the voters understand even if the high officials of the Democratic Party do not). Succumbing to Harry Reid’s insincere blandishments is something Mitch McConnell will not do. Having crushed his own party’s fanatics he certainly is not about to kowtow to the fanatics of the other party.

Politico, before the election, summed up Reid’s ambient political fanaticism, and power base, which, again, is money:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid believes Republicans have walked into his trap.

[I]n addition to headlining a slew of fundraising events for the DSCC and Senate candidates, Reid has attended a staggering 81 meetings in 13 cities with big-dollar donors for the high-spending Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC spending more than any other Democratic outside group to save its party’s majority, a source said. Reid will attend even more in the final stretch of the season.

As Yogi Berra once observed, “in theory there’s no difference between theory and practice but in practice there is.” Once again, the anti-Big-Money-in-Politics Progressives prove themselves, in private, addicted to what they so ostentatiously, in public, deplore. Still, and notwithstanding his very public feud with the White House, the bottom line?

Harry Reid is a political fanatic. Tolerating him in leadership damages the Democrats.

The most damaging political fanatic happens to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Having pushed his party into a shellacking of historic proportions President Obama threatens to throw the Democrats out of the frying pan of Obamacare and into the fire of immigration-reform-by-executive-order.

I was, long have been, and remain a passionate teapartying advocate of comprehensive immigration reform to include a generous path to citizenship. Obama’s proposed executive action, in contravention of his oath of office faithfully to execute the laws, could set back comprehensive immigration reform by a full generation. Russell Berman in The Atlantic:

GOP leaders are warning him not to in the starkest of terms. “When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself. And he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path,” Speaker John Boehner told reporters in the Capitol on Thursday, in his first press conference since the election. The speaker said a unilateral move by the president after the voters rebuked him on Tuesday would “poison the well” with Republicans, and “there will be no chance of immigration reform moving in this Congress. It’s as simple as that.”

A day earlier, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said much the same thing, equating executive action on immigration to “waving a red flag in front of a bull.”

Not only would sweeping executive action by Obama poison the well for real immigration reform. It almost certainly will plant the seeds of yet another electoral backlash against the Democrats. According to an exit poll of the Midterms conducted by (right-leaning) Kellyanne Conway’s The Polling Company, “three-quarters (74%) of voters believed that “President Obama should work with Congress rather than around Congress on immigration….” As reported by Breitbart:

Overall, strong “majorities of men (75%), women (74%), whites (79%), blacks (59%), and Hispanics (54%),” in addition to tri-partisan majorities of “self-identified Republicans (92%), Independents (80%), and Democrats (51%)” did not want Obama to enact an executive amnesty on his own. Only 20% of voters wanted Obama to move forward with his executive amnesty.

Conway calls this “playing the Lone Ranger on amnesty.” Too polite. This is political fanaticism, not vigilantism, at work.

I am familiar with many fine Democratic elected officials who would provide superior leadership both for their party and the country. They remain marginalized. Mystifying. And, unlike the GOP, the Democratic Party is exalting rather than pushing back on its fanatics.

What to do? Believers in the two-party system are conducting quiet emergency meetings inside that ominous vast conspiracy called “the electorate.”

The purpose of these emergency meetings? Hushed discussions about whether we should stage an Intervention (“an orchestrated attempt by one or many people – usually family and friends – to get someone to seek professional help with an addiction or some kind of traumatic event or crisis”)?

Or make a heartfelt appeal to the Democrats’ enablers, such as MSNBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Nate Silver, Tom Steyer — among a myriad — to join Prog-Anon?

Or maybe… PETA, Protect that Jackass! — let us attempt to persuade the GOP to pass an amendment to the Endangered Species Act to include the Democratic Party?

Some wish to round up the remnant and install them as a diorama in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History as a cautionary tale for whatever new Party emerges as a replacement.

Because America is a center right country. Major political parties, like the Whigs, have vanished through making themselves irrelevant. If the Democrats choose assisted-by-their-fanatics-suicide a new Party will arise to champion authentic social democracy rather than fanaticism.

The GOP is, of course, deeply imperfect. That said, incoming House Speaker John Boehner built the largest Republican majority in that body since the days of Harry Truman. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thwarted all challenges by conservative militants and then drove the Republicans to a majority in the US Senate. GOP leadership's credibility is high.

Neither leader is intimidated, or befuddled, by the fanaticism of the other party. Neither will succumb to histrionic “shut down the government” bluster on the part of their party’s own marginalized fanatics.

Both have announced that they will advance conservative legislation that commands bipartisan support. They thereby will force the White House into, by signing good legislation, implicitly admitting that it was the Democrats, all along, who were thwarting “getting stuff done.” Or display raw fanaticism by continually vetoing popular legislation. Shrewd.

American voters punish political fanatics. The punishment of fanaticism is the central message from the 2014 election cycle, primary and general. This bodes well for the 2016 presidential race, and for America and the world, although not for a Democratic Party which grows more bewilderingly fanatical with every passing week.