“They didn’t send us here to whimper, whine, or grovel,” Elizabeth Warren lectured fellow Senate Democrats, but maybe two out of three ain’t bad. Warren both whimpered and whined about losing the election, claiming that Democrats won the majority of Senate votes and Hillary Clinton won a majority of presidential votes. The first is completely irrelevant and the second is both false and irrelevant (Hillary has a plurality over Trump but not a majority), but it’s the same whining that her colleague Chris Coons offered on CNN yesterday.
The chorus of Democratic denial about the meaning of their wipeout on all levels in the election three weeks ago has begun to tire even their supporters. Mika Brzezinski told the Morning Joe panel this morning that “I’m getting tired of this act,” and called Warren “almost unhinged”:
“I’ve got to tell ya — I love her, but I’m getting tired of this act. I mean, she’s just got to stop,” Brzezinski said Tuesday on “Morning Joe.”
“I’m sorry, it’s getting exhausting. She might want to be a little inclusive. Because she’s sounding like the people she’s accusing of being exclusive.” …
“This was not helpful during the campaign,” she said. “There’s an anger there that was shrill, a step above what it needed to be, unmeasured and almost unhinged. It’s not going to work.
“At some point we have to look at what happened and look at the people who we lost along the way. Those are the people who’ve been left out because of a rigged system. Those were her people and now she’s leaving them out of the conversation.”
Mike Barnicle hasn’t tired of it yet, and Willie Geist says she speaks for a segment of the electorate, but that segment proved pretty inadequate at the ballot box on November 8th. The question isn’t whether, as Joe Scarborough puts it, there will be a Chuck Schumer faction squaring off against the Warren faction in the next session of Congress. Both factions emerged long before this in the Senate, and that was the main battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. The problem is that both of those factions put together don’t draw enough voters to win national elections — not presidential elections, and not the Senate elections either, even when Democrats had an overwhelming advantage in seats to defend as this did in this cycle.
Guy Benson has a must-read analysis of the Senate majoritarian claim made by Warren, Coons, and others:
Only one-third of Senate seats were up for election in 2016, as Senators serve six-year terms. By happenstance, this cycle featured a barely-contested Senate race in heavily Democratic New York, and a race in California that featured no Republican nominee at all. Vote-rich Texas did not have a Senate contest this year. So tabulating the raw “popular vote” is even less useful in the Senate context than in the presidential race, which is at least truly national. What’s more telling is that the GOP won almost all of the swing state Senate elections, including a robust showing in the diverse swing state of Florida, and a blowout in crucial Ohio. Those were the bellwethers. In making the unserious “minority rule” point above, this individual oddly ignored the national aggregated popular vote of House races — which, like on the presidential level, is actually nationwide in nature. Perhaps that data point was excised from the argument because Republicans handily won that count by more than 2.7 million votes, coming much closer to an outright national majority than Mrs. Clinton did. Relatedly, Republicans also now control 34 governorships, accounting for 68 percent of the national total (with similar dominance in state legislatures).
As I noted in the earlier post on Coons, this argument misses the point in a more fundamental manner. The Senate explicitly serves to negate population imbalances between the states. Each state, regardless of population, gets the same two seats in the Senate in order to balance state and regional interests, and to keep a few populous states from dictating policy to the rest of the country. The argument from Warren and Coons would negate the purpose of the Senate and invalidate the offices they hold. If they’re so committed to majoritarian rule, both Warren and Coons should resign their Senate seats and allow voters in their states to elect people who understand the office and its role in protecting their state’s interests.
That is also the purpose of the Electoral College, which is why Hillary’s popular-vote plurality is also irrelevant. The Constitution includes this key part of the federalist structure in order to force candidates for the presidency to appeal to a majority of states, rather than just a handful of the most populous. The reason for this is clear: various factions (ideological, regional, etc) can exist and compete in the legislative branch, but there is only one president, and he or she must govern all states and citizens. The design prevents mob rule and forces the factions to find ways to work together.
Warren’s strident, shrill, “almost unhinged” rants from the lectern and the campaign trail failed to attract enough support for Hillary Clinton and Democrats all the way down the ballot. Clearly, Mika Brzezinski isn’t the only person tiring of Warren’s schtick. Also clearly, Democrats in Washington aren’t tiring of denial and the game of the month, “Pin the Blame on Everyone But the Donkey.”
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