Dems chose a strange moment to go Red

The Briefing, Vol. VII, Issue 18

This Week:

  • Trump’s economy is killing whatever weak rationale exists for socialism
  • Why all the interest now?
  • Democratic recruiting failures continue

President 2020

The jobs numbers for April are out. Job creation beat expectations. Unemployment has hit its lowest point since 1969. Workers’ wages are rising. Americans are enjoying unprecedented wealth and prosperity, and America’s poor are becoming wealthier.

And that’s why we need socialism.

Uh, right?

Surprisingly, that’s the message behind many if not most of the Democratic candidates’ campaigns. It’s also the rallying cry for the Democratic freshman congresswoman who has shockingly managed to seize the party’s agenda from its congressional leadership.

Socialism may have once seemed logical to people who had never seen it in action. It might have been a serious temptation for those living under the boot of some Russian tsar or starving while in the service of some feudal Chinese lord. But in 2019, as Venezuela (a model Bernie Sanders was praising a few short years ago) implodes and America prospers, nobody has an excuse for supporting such a ruinous and discredited set of ideas. Everywhere it has been tried, socialism has succeeded only in retarding economic development and hollowing out all national institutions. And after its inevitable collapse, socialism inevitably gives way to a soulless and deeply corrupt kleptocracy whose people remain as impoverished as ever, like the one in Russia that we are currently competing with.

To advocate for socialism today is almost like advocating for Hitlerism beginning in 1946. Why would anyone choose the losing side of history after the fact?

More than a billion of the world’s poor have recently emerged from the deepest and worst form of poverty, thanks to their nations’ abandonment of socialist economic models over the last two to four decades So why the new fetish for socialism on Capitol Hill and in the Democratic presidential primary?

One could find any number of potential causes: An increasingly vocal white urban minority calling the shots in the Democratic Party; a university system that trains activists instead of teaching critical thinking; a primary election system that tends to reward the embrace of extremist ideas with money and votes in low-turnout elections.

Whatever or whomever you choose to blame, President Trump currently has an advantage over them: Namely, the data. As long as the economic data hold up for him, Trump can easily rebut anyone promising radical change. Recall that Barack Obama came to power with a “Change” message, but that was in the middle of a year-old recession.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, D, has jumped to the head of the class after announcing his candidacy. It’s hardly a surprise. All of this extremist talk has Democrats worried. It’s not just that most Democrats aren’t socialists, but there’s also plenty of reason to think that this talk of socialism is going to get Trump four more years.

Senate 2020

So far this year, Senate Democrats can’t catch a break. They hope and expect to win the presidency in 2020. But if they cannot capture the Senate, they will be hard-pressed to undo much of President Trump’s progress, especially when it comes to his already-massive influence over the judiciary. It is worth noting, in this context, that Trump’s 100th judge was confirmed last week. That’s already a massive accomplishment that will still be around in 2021, whether Trump is defeated or beginning his second term.

First, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, came up polling strongly after her role in the Kavanaugh confirmation. She has already avoided one high-profile opponent and so far looks a prohibitive favorite for re-election,

Democrats’ main goal has been to put a few key Senate seats into contention — specifically, in Colorado, Georgia, and Texas.

The jury is out in Colorado, as a number of candidates explore running against Sen. Cory Gardner, R. But last week, in Georgia and Texas — two states where Trump underperformed in 2016 — the party’s top recruits bowed out. In Iowa, another top-tier Democratic politician had a few words on why he wouldn’t be running for Senate, which could help explain why many others are making the same decision.

Georgia: In the Peach State, Chuck Schumer’s top recruit was 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, D. She chose not to do it, probably keeping her powder dry for another run at the governorship in 2022. Abrams, who has refused to accept the outcome of the election, has already denied rumors that she would settle for running on a ticket with one of the presidential nominees. From her specific wording, it sounds like she might work on some sort of statewide get-out-the-vote effort in 2020 that could aid her own ambitions later.

At this point, Abrams’ absence from the race leaves Democrats without a top-tier candidate of any kind. Still, it could be a blessing in disguise for Democrats. A more moderate Democrat might have actually won in 2018 — the failure of Democrats to defeat now-Gov. Brian Kemp, R, in a Democratic year really stands out on the 2018 results map.

Iowa: Iowa state Auditor Rob Sand, D, went to Twitter Thursday to tease a completely unrelated announcement appearing on local nightly news. But given the low bar for joining the presidential race — after all, Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, and Seth Moulton are all doing it, despite having no chance of winning — someone quickly made the joke that he must be doing that as well. Sand quickly disabused everyone of that notion with another tweet: “Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.”

When a disappointed Democratic partisan shot back that “you know what nobody is doing? running for Senate,” Sand had this interesting riposte: “Also, just bc no one is doing it doesn’t mean it is a good idea”

Democratic recruiting for Senate could still pick up in the next six months. But for now, there seems to be a real lack of enthusiasm across the board. Freshman Sen. Joni Ernst, R, should be vulnerable on paper, if only because Trump’s tariffs on China are killing farmers in the Midwest. But so far, nobody formidable wants to take her on.

Democrats might be rightly pessimistic about running for Senate after seeing so many Red-leaning and pro-Trump swing-states (Indiana, Florida, Missouri)) throw out or nearly throw out (Montana) Democratic U.S. Senators in what was otherwise a Democratic wave election. In Iowa, an erstwhile swing state which Trump carried with surprising ease, aspiring Democrats might prefer to wait for an open governorship or for the eventual retirement of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R, so that they don’t have to run against a reasonably popular and sympathetic incumbent in a presidential year.

Texas: As former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, D, is running for president, his brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D, was targeted by Democratic recruiters to run against Sen. John Cornyn, R. He has opted out. His fundraising numbers for the first quarter of 2019 were a pathetic $36,000, and that should have been the early hint — although he pleads that this is the result of raising money and serving as chairman for his brother’s longshot campaign.

Texas Democrats will be hard-pressed to find a candidate equal to even his second-tier status. This is one of those races Democrats are unlikely to win anyway, but there’s an outside shot, and if nothing else they’d at least really like to build on the progress they made with the near-loss by former Rep. Robert O’Rourke in the 2018 Senate race.

House 2019

North Carolina-9: State Sen. Dan Bishop, R, is the favorite to win the party primary and advance in next week’s election. The race is to fill the vacant seat whose result was thrown out due to illegal absentee ballot harvesting.

If Bishop can finish above 30 percent, he will avoid a runoff, guaranteeing a September 10 election between himself and Marine veteran Dan McCready, D, who narrowly lost the disputed 2018 election to Mark Harris.