A dis­rup­tive yet ru­inous tri­umph

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Ge­orge Will

At dawn Tues­day in West Quoddy Head, Maine, Amer­ica’s east­ern­most point, it was cer­tain that by mid­night in Cape Wrangell, Alaska, Amer­ica’s west­ern­most fringe, there would be a loser who de­served to lose and a win­ner who did not de­serve to win. The sur­prise is that Barack Obama must have im­me­di­ately seen his legacy, a com­pound of stylis­tic and sub­stan­tive ar­ro­gance, dis­ap­pear­ing, as though writ­ten on wa­ter in ink of va­por.

His health care re­form has con­trib­uted to three Demo­cratic drub­bings. The 2010 and 2014 wave elec­tions, like scythes in a wheat field, de­cap­i­tated a ris­ing gen­er­a­tion of po­ten­tial party lead­ers. Then came Tues­day’s earth­quake, which fol­lowed shock­ing in­creases of Oba­macare’s prices. This law has been as historic as Obama thinks, but not as he thinks: It might be the last gasp of pro­gres­sivism’s hubris ex­pressed in con­ti­nen­twide so­cial en­gi­neer­ing im­posed from the con­ti­nent’s East­ern edge. Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pro­posed so­lu­tion to Oba­macare’s ac­cel­er­at­ing un­rav­el­ing was a “pub­lic op­tion”: in­ten­si­fied gov­ern­ment ma­nip­u­la­tion to cor­rect the con­se­quences of gov­ern­ment ma­nip­u­la­tion of health care’s 18 per­cent of the econ­omy. Her cam­paign’s other defin­ing pro­posal, “free” tuition in pub­lic higher ed­u­ca­tion, in­sulted the in­tel­li­gence of vot­ers aware that “free” means “paid for by oth­ers, in­clud­ing you.”

Obama’s for­eign pol­icy legacy, aside from mount­ing chaos world­wide, was the Iran nu­clear agree­ment. By prece­dent and con­sti­tu­tional norms, this should have been a treaty sub­mit­ted to the Se­nate. In­stead, dis­dain­fully and char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally, he pro­duced it as an ex­ec­u­tive agree­ment. Be­cause the agree­ment lacks le­git­imiz­ing rat­i­fi­ca­tion by sen­a­tors, the pres­i­dent-elect will feel un­in­hib­ited con­cern­ing his prom­ise to re­pu­di­ate it.

The si­mul­ta­ne­ous sick­ness of both par­ties surely re­veals a cri­sis of the Amer­i­can regime. The GOP was eas­ily cap­tured, and then quickly nor­mal­ized, by his­tory’s most un­pleas­ant and un­pre­pared can­di­date, whose cam­paign was a Ni­a­gara of men­dac­i­ties. And the world’s old­est party con­trived to nom­i­nate some­one who lost to him.

To an elec­torate clam­or­ing for dis­rup­tive change, Democrats of­fered a can­di­date as fa­mil­iar as faded wall­pa­per. The party pro­duced no plau­si­ble al­ter­na­tive to her joy­less, stained em­bod­i­ment of ar­ro­gant en­ti­tle­ment. And she promised to in­ten­sify the pro­gres­sive men­tal­ity. “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”? Ac­tu­ally, you can’t even keep your light bulbs.

Amer­i­cans peren­ni­ally com­plain about Wash­ing­ton grid­lock, but for seven decades they have reg­u­larly pro­duced grid­lock’s pre­req­ui­site — di­vided gov­ern­ment. From 1944 through 2016, 22 of 37 elec­tions gave at least one house of Congress to the party not hold­ing the pres­i­dency; since 1954, 21 of 32 did; since 1994, eight of 12. Repub­li­cans now lack ex­cuses: If 40 Demo­cratic sen­a­tors block re­peal of Oba­macare (or Supreme Court nom­i­nees), the Repub­li­cans’ populist base will de­mand Demo­cratic be­hav­ior — re­vi­sion of Se­nate rules to make this body more ma­jori­tar­ian.

From Clin­ton’s nas­ti­est as­pi­ra­tion, we are now safe. She promised Supreme Court jus­tices who would re­verse Ci­ti­zens United, thereby evis­cer­at­ing the First Amend­ment by em­pow­er­ing the po­lit­i­cal class to reg­u­late the quan­tity, con­tent and tim­ing of cam­paign speech about it­self. This will never hap­pen.

De­mog­ra­phy need not dic­tate for Repub­li­cans a grim des­tiny but it soon will, un­less they act to counter adverse trends. Repub­li­cans should ab­sorb Tim Al­berta’s data in Na­tional Re­view: Ari­zona whites have gone from 74 per­cent to 54 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion in 25 years; mi­nori­ties will be a ma­jor­ity there by 2022. Texas mi­nori­ties be­came a ma­jor­ity in 2004; whites are now 43 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion. Ne­vada is 52 per­cent white and pro­jected to be ma­jor­ity-minority in 2020. Ge­or­gia is 54 per­cent white, head­ing for ma­jor­ity-minority in 2026. Be­cause of in­ex­orably ris­ing mi­nori­ties, Clin­ton, an epi­cally un­tal­ented can­di­date, did bet­ter than Obama did in 2012 in Ge­or­gia, Texas, Ari­zona and where one in eight Amer­i­cans lives — Cal­i­for­nia.

The mov­ing fin­ger writes, and hav­ing writ moves on, per­haps soon to in­scribe this: In 2016, Repub­li­cans won a ru­inous tri­umph that con­vinced them that they can for­ever pros­per by cap­tur­ing an ever-larger por­tion of an ev­ers­maller por­tion of the elec­torate.

This kamikaze arith­metic of white na­tion­al­ism should prompt the pres­i­dent-elect to test his fol­low­ers’ de­vo­tion to him by ask­ing their per­mis­sion to see the na­tional tapestry as it is and should be.

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