Is America lost?

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Not all of America, perhaps, but anywhere that Democrats have even a decent chance of victory. Are vast swathes of America doomed?

Think Detroit in the 50 years after the riots. Hollowed out.

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I have been struggling with a near depression this past week regarding the current state of the country. Objectively speaking, the State of the Union is not strong. Inflation is out of control, our banking system is teetering on the brink, our legal system is being turned into a political weapon, our cities are becoming crime-ridden war zones, our education system is collapsing, and our moral boundaries have eroded.

There’s more, but that is enough to make one cry.

Everyday Americans are at least peripherally aware that things are amiss. They tell pollsters that the country is on the wrong track.

But when given the opportunity to actually do something about the rot, enough Americans go to the polls and choose to continue the policies that have brought us to this point.

Chicago, for instance, is falling apart. Everybody knows that crime is tearing the city apart. In a multi-candidate primary, the voters even tossed out the Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, who brought the city to the brink of anarchy.

Yet once the candidates were whittled down to two, the voters chose to replace her with an equally bad progressive candidate. Jazz wrote up the story here and you should read it to get the gist of what happened. He captured the essence in his headline: “Chicago chooses chaos over recovery.”

Yep, that sums it up.

Going west to Wisconsin, a state that Scott Walker turned Red not too long ago, and a Soros-type judge won a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court handily enough, despite a record of leniency towards criminals that should make you wince. Wisconsin has long been a swing state, but Republicans have been dominant in state elections.

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No longer. Their candidate lost handily, and Republicans lost a lot of ground in traditionally Republican areas. The suburbs are going Blue. The “WOW” counties–Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington–which have been the key to Republican victories–didn’t turn out. At least the Republicans didn’t. Ed wrote about the WI race earlier today.

It is too early to do any election analysis, and Ed is better at that than I anyway, but the gist of it is simple: Democrats have a turnout machine that works, and Republicans don’t.

But the problem is, I think, deeper than that. Because when things are going so badly in the country that the least aware person understands that, it shouldn’t take a well-oiled machine to get people to reject the Left. It’s not like there is a mystery regarding the reasons why we face so many crises, particularly with the crime problem.

Yet in Chicago, a “defund the police” supporter won the Mayor’s race. The best Republican turnout machine in the world wouldn’t have made a difference there, so the lack of one isn’t the answer to why chaos won.

As Jazz wrote:

Chicago is well known for the “Magnificent Mile,” a formerly prosperous and productive retail district filled with high-end shops and fine dining establishments. Now it looks like a war zone. For the past year or more, it’s been the site of robberies, assaults, smash-and-grab heists, and even murders. Business owners have been fleeing the area.

Under Mayor Lori Lightfoot, conditions in Chicago have deteriorated. The city’s residents were offered a chance to turn things around, assuming that’s still possible. The choice was rather stark. Paul Vallas had been endorsed by the Chicago Police Union while Brandon Johnson had the endorsement of the teachers union. (That really sums up the race in a nutshell.) But despite most polls showing that crime was the number one concern on the minds of voters, the “defund the police” guy wound up winning.

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The problem we face isn’t simply that the political mechanics need to be tuned. A better Republican political machine would help, of course, and needs to be built and maintained.

But I fear it will not be enough, at least in states that aren’t already Red.

Democrat voters have decided that they like being Leftists, even if they don’t like the consequences. Los Angeles voters chose decline over renewal a few months ago; Chicago voters did yesterday. Everybody knows full well the consequences of their choices. But they do it anyway.

Douglas Adams provided a great parable about democracy in “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish,” explaining why people continue to vote for bad guys. He describes a world where the politicians and the people hate each other:

“On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”

“Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”

“I did,” said Ford. “It is.”

“So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t the people get rid of the lizards?”

“It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”

“You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”

“Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”

“But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”

“Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in.”

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This, I believe, is the origin of the joke that our leaders are lizard people.

Sane people will leave to live in the Red States. They already are. But how many will bring their voting habits with them? Will it be enough to turn Red states purple?

Maybe, maybe not. One thing I do know is that as the Left consolidates its power in the Blue states it will turn its billions of dollars in campaign cash into more winnable seats in the Red States.

Perhaps in a few days, my optimism will return. It usually does.

But these past 2 weeks have been a punch to the gut.

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John Stossel 5:30 PM | July 13, 2024
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