Reviews | The decreasing democratic majority
Last weekend I wrote about how the 2021 landscape suddenly leaves Republicans playing politics on ‘easy’ mode, giving them back the kind of issues that have built the Ronald Reagan majority in years. 1970 and 1980 – rising inflation, rising violent crime, a cold War rivalry (Chinese rather than Russian this time) and backlash against a culturally upward but overly ambitious and self-deceiving left.
I also wrote that this state of affairs was probably temporary, setting the environment as we head into the midpoint of 2022, but not permanently catapulting us into the world of 1980. In this case, it is fruitful to speculate on what the world after this odd moment, mediated by Covid, holds true for both of our political coalitions – starting this weekend with the point of view from the Democratic point of view and continuing with the point of view from the GOP side next week.
If you’re a Democrat right now, you can tell yourself a reasonably optimistic story, even in the face of dire midterm polls, about what the world will look like after 2021 for your party. In this hopeful scenario, inflation is a challenge for a year but not a decade, and much of the smoldering public discontent with the Biden administration reflects mere burnout with the anomaly of the Covid era – an anomaly that, along with children’s vaccinations, therapeutic drugs and widespread immunity, should really be over with next year.
If this anomaly goes away, there are many related issues that could hurt Democrats right now, including economic issues, but also cultural ones. The current wars in education, for example, have clearly been fueled by school closings and masking policies, and not just parents’ doubts about the new progressive curricula. So once Covid-era interventions are finally in the rearview mirror, the debate over critical race theory may recede somewhat as well.
So the optimistic Democrat can tell herself that after losing ground halfway through, the Biden administration will eventually have a better economy, a lot of popular domestic spending to claim, a decrease in the crop war and a Republican opposition captivated by its own extremists. and likely to re-appoint Donald Trump as President.
All of this would be enough to win back the Democrats for most of the political advantages they lost over the past year and allow them to start worrying again about their structural disadvantages within the Electoral College and how Trump might. cause a constitutional crisis when he narrowly loses a second time. These are not trivial concerns. But that’s a very different kind of worry, if you’re a Democrat, than the fear that Republicans might move to Reagan-like majorities in 2024.
The most pessimistic scenario for Democrats, however, is one in which most of these hopes come true and others too – normalcy is restored, inflation is under control, schools are open everywhere and masks are put on. On the other hand, illegal border crossings are decreasing and homicide rates are dropping, no major foreign crises are occurring – and that is not helping the party or its president as much as one might expect.
I’ll call this, to be provocative, the “emerging Republican majority” scenario, in which it turns out that the two great political migrations of the Trump era – affluent suburbs becoming more democratic, white working class , then Latinos becoming more Republican – the first was temporary and provisional, and the second permanent and expedited.
In that possible future, it will become clear that Glenn Youngkin’s result in Virginia was an indicator – that there is a certain type of suburban voter who will vote for a moderate-looking Democrat rather than the most Trump-looking Republican, but which will come back to the GOP as soon as there is an excuse to do so. Meanwhile, Obama-Trump’s signature voter, whether in rural white America or Latin America in Florida or Texas, will remain so culturally alienated from contemporary progressivism that he will not. there’s no easy way for Biden or any other Democratic politician to win them back. And especially not the two obvious heirs to our aging president, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, who have built their careers in deep blue neighborhoods, embodying aspects of elite progressivism that have dubious national appeal.
Which would mean that after Biden, the Liberals should expect the Flood – unless, of course, the Republican Party makes itself so completely reprehensible that it burns all those perks and ensures that any emerging GOP majority is stillborn.
This possibility confronts Democrats with a strange political calculation, even though they have already faced somewhat in Trump’s first term. It may be that the things they (rightly) fear about a Trumpian revival – all the paranoia and conspiracy that gave us on January 6 – are also the only things that, by alienating suburban voters of the GOP, keep the current Democratic coalition viable. .
Whereas without Trumpishness as a foil and bogeyman, the liberalism of the current era would be heading towards a fate once intended for Republicans: a slow but steady ebb, a surprising demographic compression.