David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, has an opinion piece in the Atlantic about how the various high-profile losses in the mid-term elections yesterday are a “blessing in disguise”. I found out about the piece because John Farrell linked it on Facebook with the comment, “Good post by David Frum.”
I’m going to disagree with that assessment. I seem to have reached the end without finding the good part. Conservatives telling liberals to stifle themselves was a funny-once joke. Frum’s analysis is locked into a prior age and blinkered by his associations.
Actually running candidates who can tap the young voter demographic is not an outrageous course of action. There’s plenty of head-room for reaching more of those voters and getting them to participate, especially for candidates who actually speak to the issues affecting them.
In other news, Florida is going to have about a million more voters on the rolls at the next election, and they are likely going to be skewed heavily toward the Democratic Party. Florida’s days of being a purple state may be just about over.
“Progressive” to Frum is an unelectable bogeyman. That’s simply not the case. Ted Cruz’s margin of victory over O’Rourke, for example, was a mere 2.6% in deep-red Texas, despite Cruz’s lax approach to complying with federal election laws. Stacey Abrams, counted out by Frum, has not yet conceded the race and is awaiting the returns from absentee, contested, and provisional ballots, though she currently has a 1.9% deficit. The word in play is “runoff”. And the phrase in play is “voter suppression”. If one rejects the notion that voter suppression is simply something that has to be accepted, that makes the projections of what must be in the future even further off-base.
The issues tagged as “progressive” or radical by Frum and his fellows actually often have majority support in polls. If you look at where the national sentiment is now on various issues that were considered radical back when Nixon was developing strategy to disrupt hippies and the African-American communities, you can see that we’ve adopted a lot of things an earlier version of Frum would have advised were election-losing issues.
Frum is wrong on his advice, not because Democrats could lose elections running people who advocate positions that most Americans actually favor; it’s certainly possible to lose that way, given how well people can be manipulated into voting against their self-interest. Frum is wrong because the Democratic Party has all too often listened to the Frums of the world and failed to back candidates who would actually be advocates for the ideas that most Americans would find valuable and useful in favor of technocrats and don’t-rock-the-boat types assumed to be more palatable. It’s not time to look at the mid-term results and be happy that voter suppression very likely sank one candidate and money-as-speech likely sank another, just so Democrats might be tempted to withdraw from advancing the policies that might actually resonate with the voters. It is time for the Democratic Party to stop giving credence to commentators who, on the one hand, aren’t actually figuring out why the races in question went the way they did, and on the other, haven’t figured out that the extremist labels they want to apply to ideas often don’t work any more.