Turns out, Americans don't want socialism.
The election is over and the results are in. Outside of liberal enclaves in the Northeast or Southern California, far-left politics really didn't carry the day. A Democrat wins in West Virginia not by touting medicare-for-all and abolishing ICE, but by being a centrist and listening to the opinions of his constituents, not the opinions of big-money Democratic donors. The vaunted "Blue Wave" was more of a blue puddle.
Meanwhile, in Texas (where we are now), not many people like Ted Cruz. But his values are more closely aligned with that of the locals, so they hold their nose and vote. Democratic "superstar" Beto O'Rourke was fawned over by Democratic fanboys in every State except Texas (Austin is technically no longer part of Texas). "Beto" as he calls himself (much like Cher) touted extremist views, such as abolishing ICE (which is not a political view, but a temper tantrum of a 3-year-old) and never really had much of a chance, despite wasting millions of donors' money on campaign ads.
Americans, it seems, are in reality, moderates. And the problem for the Democrats is that they are using the Trump presidency to try to slingshot their way to a far-left agenda. In politics, often the extremists on one side actually want their opponent to win, so that folks become so alarmed at the extremists on the other side, they will vote for the other extreme. This is how Hitler came into power - stoking fears of a Communist takeover, and the very real fears of political violence in the streets (seems kind of contemporary, no?).
Bernie Sanders supporters were right up-front about this. Many said they hoped Trump would win, turn America far-right, and thus make it easier for Sanders (or his ilk) to win in 2020. After four years of Trump, they argued, people would vote for anything.
Maybe. Maybe not. The problem for the Democrats is that they need to acknowledge that sometimes the other side isn't entirely wrong about things, but has a point. Tearing up the global warming treaty was wrong, yes. But the treaty did give unfair advantage to "developing" countries such as China, who hardly needs special advantage on the world stage. Similarly, the Obama-era CAFE requirement to increase fuel economy to an astounding 54 miles-per-gallon by 2025 was laudable, but impractical. To meet such requirements, the average vehicle in America today would have to get Prius-like gas mileage. Huge numbers of electric vehicles would have to be sold to meet this number.
And it isn't like Detroit isn't trying. Ford is offering a new F-150 with a twin-turbo V-6 and a mind-boggling 10-speed transmission (and a 12,000 lb towing capacity!) and an aluminum body. These are all expensive high-tech solutions, and to some extent pay off. The larger F-150 gets better gas milage than my old Nissan mini-truck.
But instead of saying, "Well, the climate treaty had its flaws, true" and saying, "yes, these EPA regs are a little too ambitious" the Democrats act like small children and play "Mr. Opposite" - a game where you do the exact opposite of your opponent. And it is a silly children's game that is all-too-easy to lose. Your opponent says, "I'm not going to jump off a cliff!" and you, as "Mr. Opposite" say, "Well, I'm going to jump off a cliff! Oh, wait a minute!" Too late.
Americans don't want Mr. Opposite. They don't want the anti-Trump or the parallel universe Bizarro Trump - who does the exact opposite of the existing Trump. What they want is reason and reasonableness. No, building the wall and stoking xenophobia isn't a very nice thing to do. But the answer isn't "open borders" and "abolish ICE". The answer Americans want is a comprehensive immigration reform that allows for regulated importation of immigrant labor when needed (and in an era of sub-4% unemployment, needed more than ever!) while at the same time controlling our borders as any rational nation would do.
Sadly, the far-left doesn't get this. They push extremist solutions to extremist problems generated by the other side. And so long as they do this, they will lose. "Beto" lost in Texas, but even today, some are arguing he is Presidential timber for 2020 - along with Stormy Daniels' lawyer (maybe they could run on the same ticket! Talk about a dream team - or a nightmare!).
The Democrats have taken control of the house, which should put a check on Trump's worst impulses. And that is exactly what Americans wanted - a check and balance - something our Constitution was designed to do. What they don't want is more extremism in a different direction.
Sadly, I think this lesson will be lost on the party. Party leaders will rationalize the results of this election as an endorsement of socialism, and not merely a muted reaction to Trump's excesses. They will continue to move further to the Left and as a result, lose in 2020.
Let's hope that's not the case. But the chances for moderates - in both parties - to win, are becoming dimmer and dimmer. Mitt Romney is starting to look like the only sober guy in the room!
UPDATE: Beta -> Beto. Damn autocorrect!
UPDATE: Beta -> Beto. Damn autocorrect!