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Democrats Learning the Perils of Actually Being in Power

Turns out their policies are not so popular when people get the details.
February 16, 2019
Democrats Learning the Perils of Actually Being in Power
Kamala Harris. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It has been nearly a decade since Democrats had full control of anything on the national level. That has given the partyespecially its progressive wingthe chance to wax theoretical about how their plans would better serve the public without the risk of actually being proved wrong. They could embrace self-described socialist candidates and  earnestly argue their ideas were groundbreaking while, at the same time, naming them after Great Depression era initiatives.

But the past few weeks have done for progressivism what Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam did for shoe polish. Turns out that Democrats have not really thought through how any of their policies look when presented, warts and all, to a curious public.

It was just weeks ago that Democrats in two states considered laws that allowed abortion up until the moment of birth.  Northam then stepped in during an interview in which he suggested that he was OK with not treating children born alive after botched abortions. This left the self-declared “party of science” pitching the idea that a child was only a human life if the mother believed it was. Turns out such late-term abortions are opposed by four out of five Americans. Whoops.

L’affaire infanticide set the stage for the reaction to the wide-ranging Green New Deal. The plan, introduced by 29-year old congressional neophyte Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, prescribes complete governmental control for what ails the nation, promising a guaranteed income, jobs for everyone, racial justice, guaranteed housing, and so on. Oh, and also something about how high-speed rail program that would render air travel unnecessary.

Speaking of … just days later, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced cancellation of a $77 billion high-speed rail project between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Turns out that’s more boondoggle than planet-saving technology.

One of the more laughable aspects of the GND was its provision for a basic income for those “unwilling to work.” Ocasio-Cortez has since backed off this promise, claiming it was a drafting error. But while progressives are concerned about helping people who don’t want to work, they are also celebrating the killing of job opportunities for people who are.

On Thursday, Amazon announced it is abandoning plans to build a facility in New York City that would add at least 25,000 jobs to the city’s workforce. The New York branch of “HQ2”a separate facility will be built in the DC suburbs– would have provided an estimated $27.5 billion in new tax revenue to the state over the next quarter-century; but local officials and New York state senators conspired to kill the deal, citing the lack of unionization within Amazon’s workforce and anger about tax abatements. In this case, New York politicians showed the enmity for Amazon jobs that they typically reserve for third-trimester babies.

Progressives have longed for the day their dreams of societal control would emerge from smoke-filled dorm rooms to the public stage. And now their big-government dreams are failing spectacularly. Take newly announced presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, who recently waved off the necessity for private health care plans, saying during a CNN town hall event that she’d be fine with kicking 180 million Americans off their health insurance in favor of a “Medicare for All” plan. After a swift backlash, Harris immediately moonwalked like she was in a Ralph Northam college skit, saying she was open to other paths to universal health insurance. (In the “not helping” department, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted support for Harris’ initial position, saying “Yes, we’re going to get rid of the entire health insurance industry. That’s a feature, not a bug.”)

With President Trump’s approval ratings mired in the low-40s, it seems the only way Democrats could lose in 2020 would be to spectacularly embarrass themselves in the upcoming months. But to paraphrase Die Hard supervillain Hans Gruber:

“You ask for a miracle? I give you the Green. New. Deal.”

Christian Schneider

Christian Schneider is a member of the USA Today board of contributors and author of 1916: The Blog. Twitter: @Schneider_CM.