I’ve been quite frustrated by the progressive-left’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. Blaming the Democratic Party for five Republican appointed judges, confirmed by Senate votes almost entirely from Republicans, doing damage to the constitution is insane. All three Democratic appointees to the bench opposed this madness. Joe Biden’s lone appointee hasn’t been seated yet. I get it, you want him to react as angrily as you are, but you knew that wasn’t him when he ran. Besides that, Presidents shouldn’t compel the most angry among us to converge on the Capitol to enforce our will- we saw that in the last Presidency. The guy appointed a pro-choice judge to join the court this Fall. He just doesn’t have the power to do more. As he has said, he would need more pro-choice members of Congress to codify Roe. He’s right. Presidents can’t lead revolutions.
There are two rather clear and obvious critiques that could be made about Democrats based on what I said though, and both criticisms would be fair. First off, maybe our reliance on “the system” doesn’t work. The majority of the country supports Roe and gun laws, as does the President, Speaker, and Majority Leader of the Senate they elected. The court still just struck down popular precedent on both, and there’s not a damn thing the President can do about it within our system. One could argue that it’s at least partially a lack of real support that gets you here, but one can’t deny that most of the country did vote for the popular position and the system flipped them the bird anyway.
The second critique I’d not only support, but agree with, is that we’re here in part because the Democratic Party is not overly good at doing the thing it’s supposed to do- win elections. Since Clarence Thomas was appointed to the court, supplying the first anti-Roe vote from this crew, Roe has been under constant assault because Republicans have controlled the levers of power. I’m the last 30 years, Republicans have controlled the House for two-thirds of that time, and the Senate for 16.5 years (a bare majority). While much has been made of the two actual legislating months or so that the Obama Presidency also had a 60 seat majority in the Senate, people forget the multiple independent members and pro-life Democrats he had in those coalitions. The state level is even worse- for example Democrats have not held the Pennsylvania Senate since 1994, and they actually have held the New York Senate for less time than the GOP has in those 30 years.
Democrats simply don’t win enough elections to govern in America. When you say there aren’t enough votes to overturn the filibuster and pass Democratic initiatives, you’re implicitly acknowledging that. Yes, having a moral pluralistic party to start with makes this harder, but it’s a party’s job to figure that out. Is the Democratic messaging bad? Does the consultant class that dominates the campaign committees fail to understand how best to reach voters? Do they spend poorly? Do the major donors and independent expenditures that dominate the conversation in the party fail to talk about things that matter? I think it’s fair to question any tactical decisions the party and their supporting organizations have done over the past few decades. Republicans win more elections than we do. That’s not opinion, it’s objective fact. I’m hesitant to put it on people like the Biden-Harris ticket, who managed to win, but I didn’t see many defenses of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama after losses, so you almost have to.
It’s one thing to acknowledge that there are boundaries to what elected officials can do with their powers. I’m reminded though that when LBJ told MLK Jr. he lacked the political capital to do more on Civil Rights, King’s response was to tell his inner circle it was their job to go out and get it for him. I don’t think marches and protests are going to move today’s GOP, but clearly the Democratic Party needs a jolt of something to go get the seats it needs. If the punditry and majority of polls this year are right, Republicans are about to roll them this year, like 2010 and 1994. Accepting quick boom to bust political cycles is not acceptable. Some self-examination is more than a little fair.