We are only eight years removed from an event about which Democrats seemingly have no knowledge. The amount of energy being spent decrying the United States Senate as illegitimate, anti-democratic and unrepresentative of America should be viewed through the lens of eight years ago.
Eight years ago, Democrats held a 60-seat, filibuster-proof Senate majority. Eight years ago, they controlled the House, Senate and presidency. It is a measure of just how bad Barack Obama was for the Democrats that they have lost it all. We will soon find out just how bad Donald Trump is for the Republicans, but it appears he will not be nearly as bad for the GOP as Obama was for the Democrats.
With Republicans not just in charge of the Senate, but on the verge of picking up seats in a terrible election cycle for Republicans, Democrats are screaming that the Senate is undemocratic. They have spent the past two years railing against the House of Representatives as a gerrymandered monstrosity — an argument they are abandoning as they look likely to win the House despite the gerrymandering.
The real problem for Democrats is that in our political system, they are not the majority party. Our founders and their successors in office have viewed majority rule with suspicion, as they should. The majority too often becomes a mob herded by inflamed passions. The founders installed a series of checks and balances to slow the mob and, on top of it all, ensured a federalist system where the states reign supreme in vast areas of American life.
Democrats have been playing by a rule book that lets them think they can concentrate populations in major American cities and, through those cities, run roughshod over the vastness of the United States. Thankfully, our system does not work that way. That Democrats have decided to scream “illegitimate” says more about their laziness than about the legitimacy of the system. Over the last 30 years, Democrats bought into the idea that demography was destiny, they were on the winning side of history, and they no longer had to appeal to a broad base of Americans. The results speak for themselves.
Republicans now control 31 state Houses, 36 state Senates, 33 governors’ mansions, 29 lieutenant governors’ offices, 27 state attorneys general, and 29 state secretaries of state. Republicans have control both the governors’ mansions and full state legislatures in 26 states, compared to just eight for the Democrats. Democrats have not been so far gone since the Reconstruction Era in American history after the Civil War.
For all the media talk about Republicans having an urban problem, Democrats have a suburban and rural problem. They catered to urban progressives and, in their secular, progressive bubbles along the coast, have failed to convince new voters to join them. President Trump has done more to help Democrats than the Democrats, but he will not be around forever.
The biggest warning signs for the Democrats should come from the most recent polling. Hispanic heavy districts should be solidly Democrat at this point. But they are not. Not only that, minority Democrat voters are increasingly forming the center for the party. White Democrats are more likely to identify as progressive than black or Hispanic Democrats. Multigenerational Hispanic families are moving to the right, turned off by Democrats’ secular cultural values. Democrats can scream all they want about an illegitimate Senate, but it ignores both history and their own problems.
Erick Erickson is host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB Radio.