Weary reflections from the middle of the road11/11/2020
I’m tired. I’m worn out. My energy has been sapped.
I am tired of getting up every day and bracing myself to learn who or what, in the dawn’s early light, the president has demeaned, disparaged or mocked like a school kid. I long for the days when political leaders try to bring us together, rather than drive us apart.
I am tired of candidates’ ads filling the television schedule, one after another ad nauseam — ads in which the candidates, D’s and R’s alike, tear each other down instead of informing us in meaningful ways about their views on real issues. I long for those ads for hemorrhoid ointments.
I am tired of suggestions that the middle of the road is no place to be.
I am tired of Republicans having us believe the other party truly wants to turn the United States into a socialist nation, or that Democrats want to destroy capitalism, or that Democrats are intent on wiping out millions of jobs.
But I am also worn out by the Democrats.
Their jubilation after Joe Biden’s victory was dampened big time by news from races for the U.S. House, U.S. Senate and state legislative seats in Iowa and elsewhere.
Whether Democrats want to admit it or not, voters sent two unmistakably clear messages on Election Day. The sooner party leaders recognize this fact, the better off the party and our nation will be.
The message Democrats prefer to focus on is that 75 million voters marked their ballots for Joe Biden, while only 71 million marked theirs for Donald Trump.
Yes, that was a clear expression of the American people wanting to return civility and decency, respect and candor to the White House, rather than continuing with the coarse, hateful, toxic language and division that has been a hallmark of the Trump presidency.
But the other message voters sent, including 860,000 in Iowa, was just as clear — although Democrats are not waving flags and honking horns to call attention to this one.
Fifty-three percent of Iowa voters did not care for the Democratic candidates’ association, real or perceived, with some exceptionally divisive issues. Think, “defund the police,” or “Medicare for all,” or Green New Deal, or the rioting and looting in some communities, or the “socialism” label.
Yes, few Democratic candidates actually campaigned in support of these issues. But many of them did not speak out directly and forcefully against demonstrators who think an appropriate way to express their view involves breaking windows, setting property on fire, stomping atop police cars, or forcing businesses to lock their doors.
Voters made their voices heard, and that’s a big reason the number of Republicans in Congress increased, while the number of Republicans living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. will decline.
The outcome of the presidential election showed the people of the United States are quite divided. With that division, Democrats and Republicans need to recognize that they must build and govern from the center outward, not from the fringes inward.
It’s fine to listen to the ideas advocated by people like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and “the Squad.” But the ideas that play to applause in some dark blue states are not a recipe for success in vast swaths of rural America that are in shades of red.
Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that positions espoused by the left wing of the Democratic Party “scared the bejesus out of voters.”
Ocasio-Cortez brushed aside such concerns and told reporters Democratic candidates need to be “more resilient.”
While she is part of an important demographic for the future of the Democratic Party — young persons of color — her home state, New York, is dependably blue. Ditto for Sanders and Vermont. But that’s not the reality in Iowa and many other states in the middle of America.
Yes, Iowa provided the initial launching pad for Barack Obama’s quest for the presidency. And yes, Iowa twice gave its electoral votes for Obama, in 2008 and 2012.
But Iowa Democrats have not been the victors in a top-of-the-ticket statewide race since 2008, when Senator Tom Harkin won his last term. Since then, Republicans won the governor’s office in 2010, 2014 and 2018, and they prevailed in U.S. Senate races in 2014 and 2016.
Obama carried 53 of Iowa’s 99 counties in his first race and 38 in his second campaign. In contrast, Biden carried only six counties, all urban, last week.
U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat, a former CIA officer, blamed “the extreme leftward lurch” in the party for creating problems for moderates like her.
Another Democrat in the House, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, had the same analysis: “This playing footsies with socialism is not going to win over most of America. There’s no amount of lipstick that can cover up the fact that these far-left ideas are costing us races.”
It’s time for Democrats to put away the lipstick. ♦
Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com.