Being Anti-Trump is Not Enough
The Failure of McAuliffe in Virginia Show Anti-Trumpism Alone Won't Win elections
Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) lost his bid to reclaim his old job last week.
While I think there are some important messages regarding education and the Democrats being out of touch culturally, the one big takeaway for anyone who is critical of the character and practices of Donald Trump is that anti-Trumpism is not enough to win elections.
If a campaign based on waving the bloody shirt on January 6th could win anywhere, surely it would be in Virginia with its large population of federal workers and its proximity to the U.S. Capitol. It didn’t.
This should be a wake-up call for Anti-Trumpers on both the left and the right. For the voters who decide elections, other issues weigh on their minds.
I think that this is especially true for Trump opponents on the right. Some of Trump’s most visible and vocal critics in the media particularly from the Bulwark have taken a virulent pro-Democrat stance in order to save democracy. Many prominent figures who had never endorsed Democrats in their life endorsed Joe Biden, many also endorsed Democratic control of Congress.
To the hyper-partisan and tribal Republicans, this is treachery that can never be forgiven and they are dead, excommunicated, discommodated even.
Right-wing tribalists who could overlook a protest vote (or even plotting the riot, advocating conspiracy theories, and attending right supremacist rallies) could never forgive voting for Biden. That’s not how you build a healthy political movement.
The 2020 election was a choice was between a lesser of two evils. As bad as Biden has been, there’s a case to be made that a second term of Donald Trump, now relieved of any duty to care about the voters and able to more freely do what he wants, may have been worse. The events leading up to and January 6th give us a sneak peak of what that would be like. Add to that the likelihood of Democratic gains in a 2022 mid-term and the probability that Democrats would likely have won the 2024 presidential election, and there’s a case that Biden win was the least bad of two horrible options.
The question isn’t what should have been done in 2020 but what should be done from here on out.
For many outspoken anti-Trump Republicans, it’s been a merciless doubling down. After the acquittal of President Trump, the censure of the few Congressional Republicans who called him to account, and the party’s reactions to January 6th ranging from denial and minimization, the answer is an all-out war on the Republican Party. Bill Kristol and Mona Charen of the Bulwark endorsed Terry McAuliffe because Youngkin waited until after winning the GOP primary to admit Biden won the election.
Christie Todd Whitman and Miles Taylor wrote an op-ed in the New York Times calling for Republicans to vote for Democrats to save the country. Wonder how that’s going to go?
Normal voters of all political persuasion have causes they believe in, issues they’re concerned with, and very few are going to put all those things on hold to carry out eternal punishment on the GOP and help people that oppose their interest. Some will do so on a one-time basis as happened in the 2018 midterms or the 2020 general election. But they’re not going to do that forever. It’s unreasonable to expect that they do. It also shows a poor understanding of what free government should be.
The conversation goes something like this:
Voter: I voted for Biden in 2020 to stop Trump. I’m not voting for the Democrats. They don’t listen and they’re not passing the type of policies I want.
Bulwark Never Trumper: You can’t be concerned with having government that reflects your values and is responsive, we have to save democracy.
That’s essentially the message to conservative voters who the Bulwark crowd wants to sell on voting Democrats for all eternity. Liberal democracy is more than people being able to support a government that reflects their values and beliefs, but it’s not less than that.
Some of the beltway-based Trump critics who’ve gone off the rails and into fantasyland. They imagine a Democratic Party that is dedicated to preserving norms and to the ideals of liberal democracy and is run by a moderate administration despite all the evidence around them.
Many of them even create fantasy politics.
There’s talk about an “alliance” between Democrats and Republicans. I’m sorry but, “I guess you can vote for us if you want and compromise but we won’t compromise on anything we believe” isn’t an alliance.
Tim Miller informed Republican Biden 2020 voters that had been traded to the Democratic Party by the Republicans for rural voters and were now Red Dog Democrats. In his post-Virginia election analysis, Miller wrote, “many of the suburban red dogs and independents who had been powering the blue wave backslid towards the Republicans.”
Red dogs were never a thing.
Making up non-existent caucuses and alliances isn’t going to save democracy.
The Founders Guide on Saving Free Government
People are less enamored with forms of government than they are concerned with their own needs. The sad truth is that if free government is seen as unable to address their concerns, they’ll turn to something else.
In the years after the American Revolution, the country faced many problems because of the failures in the Articles of Confederation. Many were willing to consider all sorts of forms of government including a return of a monarchy.
Free government was saved by the drafting of a Constitution that addressed the concerns and problems people had with the Articles of Confederation.
How will Trumpism be stopped? Not by demanding that people fight for the eternal rule of the United States of America by the Democratic Party, but by addressing the legitimate concerns people have in a way that’s effective, rather than the econstant stoking of rage and division.
I’ve long advocated for a new national political party to replace the Republicans and the Democrats and take better approaches to the issues our country faces. At this time, no effective vehicle exists to do that and groups that continue to empower Democrats out of pure lack of imagination are just wasting everyone’s time.
If you want to be involved in politics outside the nexus of two very corrupt and destructive parties, it’d make much more sense to be involved in the Forward Party or the Libertarian Party than to do the bidding of the Democrats forever group of NeverTrumpers. Both are flawed in their own ways and extremely unlikely to succeed, but at least they’re trying to actually make changes to the system rather than demanding people on the right elect far-left politicians in election after election in order to stop an ideology they are unwilling or unable to effectively challenge.
The Barn Door Mandate
Do you remember the days of the Trump Administration when we would get poorly thought out policies announced on Twitter and then wait weeks and month to get the actual regulation. The Biden Administration is different in that President Biden used a press conference. In September, he announced his vaccine mandate for private businesses and two months later, OS HA delivered the regulation. This difference is apparently what the President meant when he promised to “heal the soul of America.”
At the time he announced, I disagreed with it because, like Texas’ ban on vaccine mandates, it represented an unjustified interference in how private businesses operate and the qualifications and requirements they place for their own employees. This should be up to the marketplace.
The regulation has come out, and now not only is it wrong in principle, it’s also idiotic as well. I’ll leave the discussion of the potential legality and constitutionality to the lawyers, but as a layman, this thing is ridiculous and pointless on its face.
Originally, the emergency regulation was to require vaccination by early December. You could make an argument for that as an emergency measure. You could say that there are still many people unvaccinated, there’s going to be a lot of contacts personally and in businesses and so its vital that businesses ensure all their employees are vaccinated. You could make that case that that had to be done before the Holidays and was justification for making this an emergency rule.
What on Earth is the justification for an emergency rule in January? I expect we’ll see some increase in cases and hospitalizations in January. But that will be primarily, the result of all the close contacts around the Holidays. A vaccine mandate applied in January is going to do nothing to stop that.
The Biden Administration’s mandate, even before any court delays, is going to come after what’s likely be after the events that will lead to the last spike during the pandemic as COVID-19 becomes endemic and therapeutic drugs with a high degree of success in preventing deaths and hospitalizations make their way to market.
This doesn’t fit under any common definition of “emergency.” As I said before, legality is another matter. If it is ruled legal, it’ll be the equivalent of allowing an emergency regulation to lock an empty barn’s door after the cow’s gone.
In a wider sense, it also symbolizes the slowness and incompetence with which this Administration has addressed the pandemic. From the pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the confusing and contradictory messaging from Biden’s CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, the slowness of getting Vaccine doses overseas, and now this bizarre useless mandate, the Adminstration’s COVID response has been way below par. While the Trump Administration’s response was not good, they had the excuse of COVID-19 being unexpected. What’s the excuse for an administration where the President was not only aware of COVID-19 but made ending it the centerpiece of his campaign?
With theraputics from Merck and Pfeizer, the biggest factor in limiting COVID-19 deaths in 2022 is going to be access to rapid testing. The sooner COVID-19 is diagnosed, the more effective these treatments will be. It should surprise no one at this point that the Biden Adminstration is lagging behind in ways that are sure to lead more unnecessary death in the New Year. But I’m sure, they’ll get on it some time before the end of next Summer.