Here’s a startling fact: There have been eight leaders of the British Labour Party in the past 40 years. Seven of them failed to win a single general election. The exception, Tony Blair, was a Labour politician only in the most technical sense. Leftists saw him as a disguised conservative, a cuckoo in the nest. To this day, Labour activists use “Blairite” as the worst of insults, viler even than “Tory.”
Let’s widen the camera shot a little. All over Europe, traditional parties of the Center-Left have been losing badly. As I write, opinion polls show the French Socialists in fourth place, the Dutch Labour Party in seventh. Greece’s PASOK, the leading party since the early 1980s, is now polling at 7 percent. Spain’s PSOE, which had a comfortable majority as recently as 10 years ago, has been displaced by the more radical Podemos. Social Democrats in former communist countries, such as Poland and Hungary, have, if anything, fared even worse. . . .
It is in this context, perhaps, that we should consider American politics.
The rest of the world has spent three months asking itself why Donald Trump won. But the more useful question is surely why the Democrats lost. Trump underperformed Republican congressional candidates and secured fewer votes than either John McCain or Mitt Romney. But Hillary Clinton performed execrably – as Democrats have been doing in legislative, gubernatorial and state elections since the 1990s.
Only part of the story, though. Back in 2009, the Left thought it was unstoppable at the national level. Forward to now and the Party of Government has become a mere rump of itself – out of power at the national level and pretty much everywhere else with Republicans in charge (notice that I didn’t say Conservatives even if Republicans all pretty much self-identity as such (and we all know the truth of that, don’t we)).
Overreach is the simplistic reason why – big talk, larger rhetoric, but a lack of results (but not for a lack of trying via a mountain of laws and a whole range of regulations) that people DID NOT like. The Rs need to take note of this – they’ve already been down this road. Big talk, larger rhetoric, but a lack of results because of a lack of doing anything worthwhile.
Which now means they’d better produce and produce quickly. Right now, Trump has done a really good job (far better than almost any politician I know of) at either at keeping his promises or moving them forward. All those House and Senate Republicans who campaigned on lots of stuff? Yeah, they’d better start delivering and quick.
Or the Left may make a comeback.