You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else. – Winston Churchill
The former two-time British prime minister proved to be particularly prescient this electoral round as it appears as if the American voter finally woke up from their populist stupor and embarked upon the journey back to some semblance of political sanity. And that process started with a COVID fatigue borne desperate desire for a return to normalcy, it was carried on a current of the Republican capacity to aggravate women, and it culminated in the form of a rejection of fringe element populism on both sides.
Those sentient shifts didn’t come a moment too soon if you ask me.
My Facebook friend and son of my St. Nicks sixth-grade teacher, Mel P. Thillens, summed the situation up quite nicely:
Democrats: The economy isn’t recovering fast enough, gas prices are through the roof, inflation is through the roof, peoples’ savings are disappearing, the President’s approval rating is tanking, and we’re losing voters!
Republicans: Hold my beer.
Exactly! The singular reason the “red tide” turned into nothing more than a mid-term salmon pink trickle is Republicans were foolish enough to answer the female electorate’s perilous question with the equivalent of, “Yes! Those pants do make your butt look big.”
Those who’ve been smart enough to read my soon-to-be-bestselling book, “So You Want to Win a Local Election,” know the First Commandment of campaigning is the quickest way to lose one is to aggravate women. They vote more often than men, they have far longer memories, and they listen to their consciences, which evidenced itself in their obvious disdain for Roe v. Wade’s demise.
To be more specific, the Party of Lincoln’s midterm death knell was heralded in August by Kansas’ massive rejection of a constitutional amendment eliminating all abortion rights. Despite 59 percent of that reddest of red states making their position abundantly clear, the GOP failed to pay heed to the point where slimy minority leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy, was making his Trumpian post-election plans a week before the results were in.
But the vastest irony is, even after U.S. abortion rates had organically plummeted from a high of 1.6 million in 1990 to a low of 930,000 in 2020 – a 42 percent decline – not only are those rates likely to go right back up, but that anti-women’s rights albatross will be hanging around the GOP’s overly thick necks for years to come.
As my sainted mother used to say, “Be careful what you wish for because it might come true,” and the Roe v. Ward reversal was more than enough to offset the typical Democratic inability to come up with an effective campaign message.
I understand the term “fringe populism” is somewhat of an oxymoron, but it’s a perfect description of how the extremists on both sides currently control the primary ballot box.
But in the end, whether it’s Huey Long, Tail Gunner Joe, George Wallace, or Donald Trump, by its very nature, populism fades nearly as quickly as it rears its ugly head. It can never deliver on its outrageous promises, and no individual, no matter how charismatic, can consistently whip up the emotional fervor required to sustain the movement.
Did Mexico ever pay for that wall? Does the wall even exist?
So, 2022 heralds the beginning of the end of the Trump era with election denying and Trump endorsed candidates losing in droves. To make matters much worse for Agent Orange, Democratic gubernatorial candidates had a very good day, the Democrats retained the Senate, and Trump was publicly humiliated for his inability to “win.”
Don’t get me wrong. He’s still a force that will haunt the Republican party long after he’s finally indicted, but sensing weakness, even his former staunch adherents are beginning to turn on him. The Trumpian death throes will likely turn out to be epic, too.
To a lesser extent, the same thing happened on the Democratic side, as evidenced by John Fetterman’s win over the better financed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Just as it is with those fading diehard Trumpers, the Cancel Culture and overly woke element that have come to define the Democrat Party are losing their grip on it.
Fetterman won by talking about legalizing marijuana and touting economic policies near and dear to working-class voters’ hearts. If the party of the Jackass is smart enough to take note of how Fetternan’s appeal to their former blue-collar base worked and stop making it all about race and sexuality, the GOP is gonna start having Dickensian nightmares that feature Barack Obama as the ghost of politics future.
So, what did we learn in from this absurdly contentious 2022 election cycle?
1. The quickest was to lose an election is to aggravate women, and overturning Roe v. Wade made them furious.
2. Populism fades almost as quickly as it appears as indicated by the ebbing of the Maga and Cancel Culture/overly woke tides. The 2022 election cycle clearly demonstrated that we’re in the early stages of a transition away from hyper-partisan politics.
I’d also like to add that 2022 put the nail in the coffin of political polling as a science. Bill Maher’s pre-election New Rules “Real Time” dirge on the demise of democracy is a perfect example of how imprecise they’ve become. Hamstrung by their inability to call cellphones, like it is with the Nielsen Ratings folks, my theory is that polling companies will have to pay a voter universe to regularly respond to their inquiries.
My original plan was to also cover how, despite a plethora of Internet resources, with rare exception, local candidates have no idea how to wage an effective campaign. But that would require a part five and that’s too much even for me. We’ll cover that sad reality in an upcoming column.
So, this is a wrap on our four-part series on the 2022 races in which the voters sent a number of messages that will reverberate through upcoming elections. Lastly, since I certainly have no monopoly on the truth, please feel free to add your unique insights into this fascinating year in the comments below.