A leftover from last night. Watch the clip below, remembering that Beck was ardently anti-Trump in 2016, and tell me I was wrong to claim during the shutdown that Trump won’t lose a single vote (except Ann Coulter’s) if he can’t or won’t build the wall before 2020.
We live in an age of negative partisanship, baby. Support for one’s party waxes and wanes depending upon what the *other* party does, not one’s own. It’s Flight 93 elections all the way down. I mean, really:
Just over 42 percent of the people in each party view the opposition as “downright evil.” In real numbers, this suggests that 48.8 million voters out of the 136.7 million who cast ballots in 2016 believe that members of opposition party are in league with the devil…
Kalmoe and Mason, taking the exploration of partisan animosity a step farther, found that nearly one out of five Republicans and Democrats agree with the statement that their political adversaries “lack the traits to be considered fully human — they behave like animals.”…
Some 20 percent of Democrats (that translates to 12.6 million voters) and 16 percent of Republicans (or 7.9 million voters) … think on occasion that the country would be better off if large numbers of the opposition died.
In fairness to Beck, Democrats are doing everything possible to validate his concern. Philip Klein wrote a piece today musing that, for a party that claims to be mortified by Trump’s affront to “norms,” there’s scarcely a political or constitutional norm in American government that Democrats don’t want to tinker with, radically reform, or wipe away. Court-packing, abolishing the electoral college, abortion up to the moment of birth, opposition to immigration enforcement writ large, a total government takeover of health care: This is Big-Picture Stuff from a party stumbling left. If liberals are annoyed at Beck’s life-or-death brinksmanship, there might be less of it (a little less, it’s Beck after all) if Democratic candidates weren’t constantly betraying quasi-revolutionary designs on American governance.
But lefties have a point too when they note that they’ve heard this song before. Righty populists have only one gear and that gear is “Flight 93 election.” Of necessity in 2020, really: When your nominee has a job approval that can’t seem to stay put above 43 percent in poll averages, it’s shrewder to cast the opposition as the end of America as we know it than to go all-in on touting your own side’s accomplishments. (Plus, it worked in 2016.) I’d be curious to know if Beck would apply his argument to any potential Democratic nominee or just to the most radical figures. Nominating Bernie is a five-alarm fire for the right, granted, but what about Biden? What about Beto O’Rourke, who was known to chatter about “significant” spending cuts for our “extravagant” government when he first ran for Congress in 2012? I assume Beck would say, yes, five-alarm fires for them too because (a) even the “moderates” are plenty radical on certain issues, like abortion and immigration, and (b) to the extent they’re not radically inclined, they’ll come under tremendous pressure from progressives to bend that way.
So, again: Flight 93 election. And since there’ll always be some segment of the party that’s radically left-wing, even if Bernie crashes and burns in the primary and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s favorable rating continues to trend deeper into the toilet, the 2024 election will be a Flight 93 election too. As will 2028. (No 2032 election since the world will have ended due to climate change by then.) I’d ask Beck this, in all earnestness: What’s the plan for when Democrats do win another presidential election, because they’re all but guaranteed to win one or more of the next three. Not since FDR has one party monopolized the White House for more than three consecutive terms. We’re going to need to accommodate ourselves somehow to the reality that the left will be in charge again within the next decade, possibly less than two years from now. The problem with treating presidential outcomes as apocalyptic is that this apocalypse will occur, sooner rather than later. So, what then?