The Pipeline of Insanity
I was pretty happy with the recent election results, with one big exception.
The disappointing results for Republicans are prompting them to have a simmering passive-aggressive battle over their radical Trumpist fringe—but the Democrats will have no equivalent reckoning with their own radical fringe.
The Red Wave that wasn’t led to the Democratic reckoning that isn’t.
The Democrats did not exactly post a crushing victory, mind you. They will retain control of the Senate, probably with one vote more than the absolute minimum (depending on the results of the Georgia runoff). That’s still a very thin majority that gives a lot of veto power to the most conservative Democrats. Moreover, they lost their majority in the House, albeit narrowly. So Democrats cannot claim a mandate to do much of anything in the next Congress, nor will they have the votes to do it. Which is great, right?
Yet in the business of politics, success is often gauged relative to expectations. If everyone expects you to win easily, and you barely squeak by (as ultra-MAGA Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert did in her Colorado district), then it looks like a loss. If everyone expects you to get wiped out, and you just barely hold on, it looks like a victory.
That is the only real sense in which Democrats “won” the midterm election—but it will be enough to keep them from engaging in post-mortem self-examination and confronting the wing of the party that has been dragging them down and making them vulnerable for a long time.
It just so happens that I had such a post-mortem drafted on Election Day, in anticipation of the Red Wave. The voters surprised me, and not for the first time, so I had to start my election analysis over again from scratch—but I didn’t entirely throw out the post-mortem. I present parts of it below, not because I think Democrats will be inclined to engage in this kind of soul-searching, but because the poor performance of the other major party merely puts off a problem the Democrats are going to have to deal with eventually.
They will definitely have to face it as they head into the primaries for the 2024 election, where they will have to decide whether to stick with Joe Biden and—more important—who to line up behind as his most likely successor. So they would be well served by thinking about this sooner rather than later.
Thanksgiving Sale Begins
Before I get to that analysis, a quick announcement. I am starting my usual end-of-year sale on subscriptions somewhat early, partly just to test out how it works now that The Tracinski Letter is on Substack. As a fig-leaf to avoid having a “holiday” sale before the traditional post-Thanksgiving kickoff of the Christmas shopping season, I am going to call it a “Thanksgiving Sale.”
The upshot: Click this button to subscribe or renew now, and get 10% off.
Please help me test out this feature, particularly if you have an upcoming renewal, if you have let yourself drop from the paid list and would like to get back on, or if you have been lurking on the free list and thinking about subscribing. This is a chance to do it at a significant discount, moving in the opposite direction from inflation.
There is a particularly interesting year coming up. With the election behind us and the primary season about to start (or according to Donald Trump, already under way), both parties are going to be making some big decisions that reflect wider ideological divides on both the left and the right. Today’s edition is just the beginning of my coverage of this ideological contest, and you won’t want to miss my continuing coverage as we enter 2023.