Everyone is struggling with the bizarre outcomes of the 2022 midterms.
Conservatives operate from a quaint playbook that connects outcomes to performance, and we told ourselves voters couldn’t possibly reward the party responsible for a ruined economy, disastrous foreign policy, rampant crime and a brain-dead chief executive.
We were kind of right, but we can’t explain what happened in those parts of the country where we were wrong. The person who can is one who’s virtually invisible in today’s political landscape: Bill Clinton.
About 30 years ago, Clinton famously started his presidency with the axiom, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” Wonderfully unifying rhetoric for today, but not that uncommon then.
When Clinton won re-election in 1996, 1,100 counties were competitive between Bob Dole and him — about one-third of America’s 3,000. When Clinton’s wife ran in 2016, that number had dropped to 310 — just one-tenth.
This is despite the fact that, regardless of what the left-wing media tells you, Republicans have moved to the center, while Democrats have become more and more extreme, according to the Pew Research Center.
This radical departure is largely a result of the urban/non-urban divide, which is why many are moving past the terms “red state” and “blue state,” because they don’t exist. There’s a blue archipelago surrounding what’s left of America, so Republicans win the House but struggle in Senate races in those parts of the country that might be past the point of no return — especially since the exodus of conservatives from blue states since 2016.
Mediocre Democrats won against overwhelmingly more qualified Republicans who probably never stood a chance — Dr. Mehmet Oz lost in Pennsylvania to a man who couldn’t pass a high school civics test. Maybe because of the well-known Philadelphia voter fraud machine, but maybe not. It shouldn’t amaze anyone the extent to which Democrats will lie, cheat and steal to win elections, as GOP lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg says in the movie “Recount” — what’s amazing is how much they don’t have to.
Now, it’s not that these hopelessly blue cities have become traditionally Democratic: The modern Democratic Party has nothing in common with that of Clinton. Modern Democrats are the party of cosmopolitan corporate globalism, either new immigrant populations or those who benefit from their cheap labor.
America’s blue mega-cities — Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Chicago — have become city-states like Qatar, Dubai and Singapore with a “cosmopolitan surface,” as Robert Kaplan writes in “The Return of Marco Polo’s World,” that have to reject nationalism in order to maintain an internal sense of community.
Alas, while Qatar, Dubai and Singapore are dictatorships (albeit mostly benevolent), America’s international city-states are democracies, consigned to fighting for political power against the rest of the country they’re stuck with. And the glue that Democrats have come up with for keeping these diverse cities together is shared contempt for the American heritage that created them.
So Angelenos resent that they have so little voice in the Senate compared to the combined population of any 10 smaller states, but those 10 states resent that a city as dysfunctional as Los Angeles gets even those two senators.
And as the parties have parted ways, the political impact of 51 Republican senators compared to just 50 is enormous, but the number of people who determine that 51st is tiny.
Centralized power in a city that is too involved in the lives of 330 million very disparate people is unsustainable. Decentralizing power would be better for everyone except those few who benefit from that centralization. Wouldn’t we all be happier if we were less politically intertwined with one another and the federal government just managed diplomacy, defense and interstate commerce — the way it’s supposed to?
Furthermore, redrawing borders along the blue archipelago would likewise ease some tension. Republicans have picked up four House seats in upstate New York, but are outnumbered 7 to 1 in the city. Eastern Oregon wants to join Idaho. Northern Virginia should be merged with the District of Columbia.
This may all sound rather dramatic, but the number of Americans who think the country is on the wrong track has been above 60 percent all year. Democrats got away with a slap on the wrist, but that isn’t an endorsement of their failed policies.
Our current political system has created a world of wonders and prosperity unimaginable to those who created it, but it is due for some changes, or internal friction will tear us apart.
This phenomenon seems to be the case everywhere except Miami, which is why Ron DeSantis has become so attractive. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with Florida.
Jared Whitley is a longtime D.C. and Utah politico and award-winning political writer, having worked in the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Bush White House and the defense industry. He has an MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai.
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