Democrats are in denial about 2020

Progressives are so utterly convinced of the injustice of this political reality that in reaction to it they’ve driven themselves to embrace two forms of denial. One form of denial has them living inside a fantasy of changing the system from top to bottom. They’ll break liberal California into multiple new states and grant statehood to Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico in order to take firm control of the Senate. They’ll abolish the Electoral College so the president is determined by a nation-wide popular vote. They’ll pack the Supreme Court to ensure no part of the federal government pushes back against these and other efforts at radical institutional reform.

The problem with this fantasy is that it requires winning first, using the current rules — and talking about wanting to make such radical changes will make such a victory less likely. Then there’s the scenario in which progressives manage to take control in 2020 and set out to make these changes regardless of whether they campaigned on them. The result would almost certainly be a right-wing backlash that would make the post-ObamaCare tidal wave midterm election of 2010 look like a minor ripple in a wading pool.

The other form of denial to which today’s Democrats are prone has them dreaming about magically overcoming their problems, not by responding reasonably to the demands of the electoral map (by moderating their positions on some issues), but by embracing their inner democratic socialist. They hope and pray, in other words, that if they pretend their structural problems don’t exist, they’ll be rescued by demographic trends or Trump’s awfulness or their own charm and charisma or the latent leftist convictions buried deep within the American electorate.