Like the Democrats after 2016, Republicans are bewildered by the results of the midterm elections and are busy searching for a scapegoat. The establishment blames Donald Trump, while MAGA blames Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Others, echoing Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” remark, are inclined to fault the ignorance of the electorate. This “blame the voter” narrative may have a taste of sour grapes, but it makes a good deal of sense. Poll after poll shows that Americans share the pessimism of the Republican base. If voters don’t like the way things are heading, why did they reward the people running the show?
Nobody wants to say it, but Trump didn’t make Pennsylvania vote for a potato any more than Mitch McConnell did. The truth is, Pennsylvanians got what they wanted in John Fetterman. The Left’s cynical, sentimental approach worked: voters identified with a victim in a hoodie with a superficial “working class” image pushing class envy. If we’re going to discuss “candidate quality,” Dr. Oz can at least speak coherently. He should have won easily, and there is no reason to suppose another Republican would have fared better. The problem here is voter quality.
The picture we got from Tuesday is that of a decadent, vegetative electorate easily swayed by platitudes and sentimental appeals, fervently attached to its entitlements. Within the living memory of many Americans, abortion was widely illegal and considered a grave evil. Americans now appear to regard it as a treasured right. In Montana, voters even rejected a measure to provide life-saving care to infants born alive after a botched abortion. Republicans performed well with married men and women—the people who should be the center of our civic life, while Democrats dominated with unmarried women and the twitchy, nihilist Gen Z.
Again: voter quality.
Where did Republican messaging stumble? The party, perhaps, could have been more affirmative about what they support. But they cannot be blamed for betting that voters would recoil at the ugliness of the alternative. Even the Democrats are surprised by their success. The choice here was pretty stark: “You can vote for more crime, child mutilation, and toddlers in masks, or you can vote for us, but you have to give up your abortions.” There was a rational choice, and the people didn’t make it.
Those expecting a thundering rebuke of tyrannical COVID restrictions, Biden’s incompetence, the border crisis, and economic mismanagement underestimated the passivity of the people.
In the end, the people rewarded their abusers. Why wouldn’t they? In 2020, a minority of the country was attacked and disparaged for opposing school closures, masking, and lockdowns as the majority fell into a panicked trance. They hung on every word from tyrannical, grandiose “experts” like Anthony Fauci. Some 90 percent of U.S. adults got conned (some coerced) into taking a “vaccine” that, for many, likely did more harm than good.
The GOP’s dejection is understandable. If the party can’t score a “red wave” under these conditions, then when will they ever? Those dispirited by the outcome should take another dose of reality and consider what elections will look like after another 10 or 15 years of mass immigration have taken their toll. It’s not a pretty picture.
Those inclined to say the GOP was not persuasive enough, or that Trump’s “toxicity” is the issue, are missing the forest for the trees. America is balkanizing, its elections are going the way of the Third World, as are its people. There is no easy solution to this predicament, but the answer isn’t for the GOP to ditch the one man who excites the party base. Nor is it to pander to the lowest common denominator, in the hope of buying more time before the demographic time bomb goes off.
If it’s any consolation to the party, this election showed us that the country is so deeply divided that the GOP probably couldn’t have done much better. About half the country cannot be expected to vote rationally under any circumstances. Republicans should give up any illusion of convincing them and focus on delivering for their base.