CNN commentator Van Jones admitted after the debate, "There was nothing I saw tonight that would be able to take Donald Trump out."
But why? Do Democratic voters — especially those living in cities or states run by Democrats — ever ask themselves why their political leaders do such an awful job?
Here are a few reasons for some of the failures of modern Democratic political leadership:
1. They do not learn from history. Case in point: Some of the most prominent national Democrats are actively pushing socialism, despite the abject failure of statist regimes. No matter how many countries' economies have struggled or collapsed under communism and socialism, we have Democrats claiming, "It will be different this time." No, it won't.
2. They have no sense of economics. Democrats act like they can tax limitlessly. They ignore proof that the money can and does run out. Furthermore, the financial projections for their pet projects are always wrong. Yes, always. And by a huge margin. Medicare. Medicaid. Social Security. Obamacare. So when Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren promise you that the government can pay for college or health care for all Americans (and for every immigrant who crosses the border), and that it won't cost middle-class families a dime, you can bet that dime — and everything else you own — that that's an error of monumental proportions.
3. They do not understand business, and they demonize all business as "big business" (as if "big business" is, in and of itself, a bad thing). But most business in the United States is small business. There are about 29 million small firms in the U.S., and about 23 million of those firms have no employees, only owners. Of the remaining 5 million or so that do have employees, 80% employ fewer than 20 people! And most companies — even those that are incorporated — are family-owned or family-controlled.
This kind of ignorance matters, not only because we depend upon business for products and services and employment and tax revenues but also because it is wrong to try to turn Americans against their fellow citizens for personal political advantage.
4. They push policies that cater to tiny minorities of people, willfully oblivious to the impact those policies have on the vast majority of people affected by them. Consider the push for transgender bathrooms and participation of transgender athletes on sports teams. By even the most generous calculation, the percentage of Americans who identify as a gender other than their biological sex is a fraction of 1%. And yet millions of people who do not have this issue are supposed to embrace trans bathrooms, locker rooms and other private spaces, as well as the clear unfairness of biological males competing against biological females.
5. They tackle minute issues and leave major problems unaddressed. California can ban plastic straws but cannot seem to do anything about the urine, feces, vomit and used needles on its sidewalks and streets.
6. Their sense of compassion is skewed. Mentally ill and drug-addicted people belong in treatment facilities. But we eliminated mental health facilities because involuntary commitment was deemed uncompassionate. Now cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have tens of thousands of people living on the streets, where disease and crime are rampant. This is not compassion. The same can be said of Democrats' push for welfare policies, which growing numbers of black leaders acknowledge have devastated the black family, creating generational poverty, drug use, educational failure and massive incarceration of black men.
At what point are Democrats held accountable for the failures of these and other policies?
Politicians of all political parties can be stupid, venal and crooked. But as long as the government remains limited and most Americans are free to run their own lives, the impact of political stupidity and corruption can be marginalized.
The problem with today's Democrats is not only that their preferred policies are wrong-headed; it's that they want more and more control over every aspect of our lives. The more control politicians have, the more their selfishness, stupidity, ignorance and corruption will cripple us.
Van Jones is right: Nothing the Democratic presidential candidates are selling is likely to persuade a majority of American voters to elect any of them in 2020. The Democratic candidates could reverse their fortunes and up their odds using just a little common sense. One wonders why they refuse to do so.
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