The party’s over and no place to call home

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - Wes­ley Pru­den is ed­i­tor in chief emer­i­tus of The Times.

That’s the dilemma of the Democrats, for­lorn, de­spon­dent and walk­ing in cir­cles like the goose hit on the head with a long-han­dled wooden spoon. They’re ask­ing ques­tions for which there are no happy an­swers in the wake of their fourth straight loss in a round of spe­cial elec­tions.

The only con­sol­ing words the main­stream-me­dia pun­dits have come up with is that they came close. “It cer­tainly wasn’t a blow-out,” one Demo­cratic con­sul­tant said on elec­tion night. “We did pretty well.”

Well, not as bad as it could have been, any­way. That was the con­so­la­tion a small boy of­fered to Ge­orge McGovern a day or so af­ter he lost 49 of 50 states — which one pun­dit called “run­ning the ta­ble from A to B.” The late Mr. McGoo, a gen­uinely nice guy who didn’t have a clue about what made the Amer­ica of his time tick, waited to board a flight with a man and his lit­tle boy. The boy told him: “Don’t feel too bad, com­ing in sec­ond is pretty good.”

Ah, but the big boys call “com­ing in sec­ond” some­thing else, “los­ing,” but say­ing it as if “los­ing” was a bad word. “Nice guys,” as Leo Durocher, the baseball man­ager rightly said, “fin­ish last.” Ge­orge McGovern was the party’s ex­per­i­ment in try­ing to light a fire with some­thing from the left wing wood­pile, and when the logs are wet it’s hard to do that.

When ev­ery­body is down, cold, and bruised, try­ing again to start a fire with some­thing wet might look like some­thing that could work. Bernie San­ders and El­iz­a­beth War­ren, Poc­a­hon­tas and the Old Codger, are ea­ger to try again with the un­likely. They want the party to em­brace a can­di­date who will cam­paign against “the 1 per­cent,” in­come in­equal­ity and prom­ise lots of free stuff, such as a free col­lege ed­u­ca­tion, even for those who don’t want it enough to work for it, and “free” health care for the halt, the lame and ev­ery­one else. Can­di­dates for the Se­nate, the House and the county court­house, which lately Democrats can’t seem to win, ei­ther, would be ex­pected to em­brace the rad­i­cal and the revo­lu­tion­ary, too. With an all-out, fullthroated, cam­paign like that they might win a state or two again. “Com­ing in sec­ond is pretty good.”

Rail­ing against Don­ald Trump, ac­cus­ing him of racism, big­otry, child abuse, trea­son, chang­ing lanes in rush-hour traf­fic, sex­ism, in­suf­fi­cient re­spect for LGBT, and even mop­ery, with The Wash­ing­ton Post and The New York Times in a daily race to see who can get the most rants on Page One, is great fun for the Demo­cratic base. But so far it can’t win elec­tions.

Ge­orge McGovern

But nei­ther can ci­vil­ity and good man­ners, as Jon Os­soff learned in the suburbs of At­lanta. These suburbs were thought by Democrats to be the place to break the los­ing streak. Af­ter all, these were not the ru­ral, small town de­plorables with a gun and a Bi­ble, but “peo­ple like us.” Some of the sub­ur­bans even went to col­lege, and if they went to church on Sun­day they prob­a­bly slept through most of the ser­mon. Ci­vil­ity and good man­ners came in sec­ond, too.

“Our brand is worse than Trump’s,” the glum elec­tion­night bene­dic­tion by Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, has been re­peated so of­ten since that it has be­come a mantra. “We can’t just run against Trump.”

Or will they? The dilemma of the Democrats is that they’re try­ing to sell what no­body, or at least not enough no­bod­ies, will buy. Don­ald Trump won in spite of be­ing Don­ald Trump be­cause some­body fi­nally ex­posed the elites, both Democrats and Repub­li­cans, as the empty shoes and suits they are.

A year ago, as the Don­ald was win­ning Repub­li­can pri­mary af­ter pri­mary, and Hil­lary Clin­ton was play­ing “the in­evitable pres­i­dent” in every news cy­cle, the me­dia and the con­sul­tant class wrote off not only the Don­ald, but the Repub­li­can Party as well. Look­ing as wise as a tree full of owls, the pun­dits even be­gan writ­ing about the Grumpy Old Party with a lit­tle sym­pa­thy, as if it was a Christ­mas Eve con­gre­ga­tion at the nurs­ing home. The Repub­li­cans were not long for this world, bless their hearts, so give them another slice of fruit­cake.

No­body’s say­ing that now. The in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the pres­i­dent’s var­i­ous col­lu­sions, with what and with whom is still not quite clear, and he still does not look like a dead man walk­ing. The not-so-loyal op­po­si­tion has been re­duced to a party con­sumed by is­sues of race and class. The Cen­sus Bureau re­ported this week that last year, for the first time in a cen­tury, more white folks died than were born. Maybe all the Democrats have to do is hang on. Help’s a-com­ing.

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