Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
The Biden Administrations’ failures are so numerous and egregious, as Jim Geraghty catalogues, that court-scribes like the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN are turning on him. Even DNC heartthrob Stacey Abrams, chronic denier of election results, snubbed Biden when he came to Georgia.
The media’s new-found willingness to fulfill their self-proclaimed sacred charge to “afflict the comfortable” and “speak truth to power,” however, is driven not by a recovered fidelity to fact, evidence-based argument, and objectivity, but by Biden’s record-setting disapproval numbers, especially the declines among Latinos, independents, and young people––constituencies critical for the Democrats’ longed-for “permanent majority.”
So don’t expect the current criticism to signal the media’s return to fact and coherent argument. They’ve just been spooked by the specter of a red midterm tsunami come November. They’re still slaves to the anti-constitutional Leviathan technocracy, growth-killing regulate-tax-redistribute economics, illiberal racialist identity politics, naïve globalism, and preposterous narratives of “white supremacists,” “systemic racism,” “voter suppression,” and the Trump-led “insurrection” against “our democracy.”
A column from the Washington Post’s Megan McArdle illustrates this reflexive fidelity to ideology and lies in the face of the media’s patent contribution to Biden’s failures. The bulk of her piece chides the Democrats for not taking seriously the possibility of a Republican return to power, because Dems stereotype conservatives as the party of “reactionary whites” condemned by demographic change to wander forever in the political wilderness. This misperception has pushed the current Democrat control of all three branches of government too far to the left, and hence alienates the party’s moderates and white working-class voters, as well as Asians and Hispanics whom Republicans have been siphoning from the Democrat coalition.
All this is sensible and true, as McArdle often is, and portends a Democrat collapse in this year’s midterms if, McArdle implies, the party’s progressives don’t back off their radical attacks on the filibuster and the Electoral College, and stop “their endorsement of various court-packing schemes.”
What follows next, though, reveals the unexamined assumptions and bad ideas that characterize the progressive narrative:
Of course, conservatives should engage in similar introspection. If Republicans expected to win more elections, what would they say about the filibuster, or America’s growing preference for running all important decisions through the Supreme Court? For that matter, how would a party swelling with Hispanic and Asian voters position itself on immigration? And if Republicans can assemble a majority of the vote, won’t they want Democrats to accept the legitimacy of that vote? If so, shouldn’t they set a good example now?
First, we know how Republicans feel about the filibuster from their rejection of Trump’s suggestion in 2017 that the Republicans “get rid of 60 vote NOW!” The next issue McArdle implies that Republicans need to explain to their new constituents, is astonishingly ignorant. Conservatives have been criticizing for years the Dems’ “growing preference for running all important decisions through the Supreme Court,” and their belief in the “living Constitution” that will allow them to weaken the Constitution’s guardrails against concentrated power.
Indeed, from its beginnings progressivism has chafed at the Constitutions’ “checks and balances” that protect freedom from the tyranny of both the majority and the minority. Over a century ago, Progressives preferred an oligarchy of technocrats––the “hundreds who are wise,” as Woodrow Wilson described the unelected, unaccountable federal bureaucrats––who know better how to manage the government than Wilson’s “selfish, ignorant, timid, stubborn, or foolish” ordinary voters and their representatives accountable to the ballot-box.
The Supreme Court, its justices appointed for life, has functioned as just such a technocratic oligarchy, and has serially revised a plastic, “living Constitution” by rifling through its dubious “penumbras” and “emanations.” It has become the go-to branch of government for serving the progressives’ technocratic ambitions by discarding the Constitution’s checks on them like regularly scheduled elections, instead empowering the federal bureaus and agencies that in fact make the laws, execute them, and adjudicate them, thus aggrandizing all three branches of government.
Then there’s this bromide: “How would a party swelling with Hispanic and Asian voters position itself on immigration?” We know the Dem talking-point buried here: Republicans are xenophobes and nativists, hence anti-immigrant. As more Asians and Hispanics join the party, the GOP’s harping on illegal aliens and securing the border will alienate these new Republicans, and weaken the party.
The big fat begged question is that ethnic Asians and Latinos are all in favor of porous borders, amnesties for illegal aliens, and unlimited immigration. Anyone who is familiar with both ethnicities know this is false. Like everybody else, they have a great variety of opinions, interests, and beliefs. For those like McArdle who live in the cognitive elite’s affluent silos, that genuine diversity of ethnicities learned by living among them is invisible, and so they assume that all Hispanics or Asians are against limiting immigration and rounding up illegal aliens.
But those of us who have spent our lives among, for example, Latinos, know that significant numbers of them don’t support policies like open borders or sanctuary cities, the malign effects of which hit their communities the hardest. In fact, Donald Trump’s policies like strengthening border security and cracking down on illegal aliens attracted Hispanics, rather than repelling them. In fact, Hispanic support for Trump has increased since he left office.
Moreover, non-elite Hispanics are more religious and conservative in their beliefs, which is why they’re not big supporters of transgenderism or same-sex marriage, or of anti-American Marxist drivel being taught to their kids. The aggressive and arrogant promotion of such radical challenges to traditional morality is another reason why Hispanics have been shifting to the Republicans.
Finally there’s the canard that Republicans don’t accept the outcome of elections or the legitimacy of the vote, which will trouble their new Asian and Hispanic constituents. First, ordinary voters of any ethnicity generally care more about the economy, crime, and jobs, rather than politicians who contest the outcome of an election. Right now inflation, draconian covid mitigation diktats, and skyrocketing energy costs are more important than Donald Trump’s complaints last year, many of them legitimate, about the irregularities in the 2020 election. Nor are they fretting about the cooked-up “sedition” charges against some of the January 6 rioters.
But how tin-eared, or shameless, do you have to be to bring up the issue of accepting “the legitimacy of the vote,” clearly a reference to Republicans, when for six years that’s all the Dems have done? For all that time Hillary Clinton has been claiming that Donald Trump was illegally elected with the help of Russian dirty tricks. Stacey Abrams similarly talks about nothing else except the mythic “voter suppression” that led to her loss in the Georgia gubernatorial election.
In fact, contesting presidential election outcomes has been the Democrats’ modus operandi after every Republican victory. For years we heard that George W. Bush was “selected” by the Supreme Court, “not elected” in 2000. And Democrats in Congress have sought to exploit the vague Electoral Count Act in order to overturn the Electoral College votes after a Republican wins. But most serious, what have Republicans done to undo an election even remotely close to the Russian collusion hoax hatched during Barack Obama’s final days in office? When have Republicans corrupted the FBI, the DOJ and the FISA Court, and later a Special Prosecutor, in order first to prevent a candidate from being elected, then crippling his administration with incessant leaks to the media of information, like the “Steele dossier,” already known to be false?
And don’t forget the “sedition” claptrap that caps the year-long fairy-tale about Trump’s evil plot to overturn the Constitutional order and seize power by “inciting” those attending a rally on last January 6 in order to “sack” the sacred “temple of Democracy.” Isn’t this dubious narrative a preemptive attempt to control the outcome of the 2024 election by means of an ongoing, endless smear of Donald Trump and the Republicans? McArdle’s question is one that should’ve been put to the Democrats, not the Republicans.
For all her “fair and balanced” rhetorical pretentions, McArdle still relies on DNC talking-points and political urban legends, not to mention historical confusion or amnesia. As such, she and other progressives now cudgeling Biden are more dangerous than the obvious propagandist on MSNBC. We can see them coming a mile away.