You would think that after absorbing a bone-rattling defeat like Hillary’s that the Democratic Party would recover its senses and move back to the center in the hopes of winning elections again. But, defying common sense, the party appears hell bent on moving further to the left. Its leaders are opining that it was Hillary’s failure to rally the base and her centrism that led to defeat. So the future candidates of this unchastened Democratic Party are likely to fit the contours of a Bernie Sanders or an Elizabeth Warren.
While their course would seem to be suicidal, history teaches us that the left usually reacts that way to major defeats. When liberals fully and confidently expect to win and then lose, they also lose their minds and move further and further to the left, assuring themselves of at least a decade more of wandering in the wilderness.
It was thus after Ronald Reagan unexpectedly upended Jimmy Carter in the 1980 elections. The Democrats were surprised and crushed by Carter’s defeat and Reagan’s election, they never expected that movie actor to get elected.
Inexplicably, after Carter’s defeat, the Party moved to the left, nominating first Mondale and then Dukakis as their candidates in 1984 and 1988. Mondale, Carter’s former vice president, was the acknowledged successor to Hubert Humphrey — also from Minnesota — as the leader of the Party’s left. Indeed, Carter — who was elected as a centrist in 1976 — put Mondale on his ticket to reassure liberals who were worried that he was too conservative.
When Reagan left office, the Democrats licked their chops in anticipation of a victory and nominated ultra-liberal Michael Dukakis, Governor of the People’s Republic of Massachusetts. But the nation rejected him and chose lackluster George H.W. Bush instead.
It wasn’t until Bill Clinton came along in 1992 that the party determined on a new direction and again became competitive for national office, after having suffered 12 years in exile.
It was the same with the Labor Party in Britain. After Margaret Thatcher unexpectedly beat Labor Party candidate James Callaghan in 1979, the leftists went on a rampage, choosing Michael Foot as their leader and crashing in the election of 1983, losing by 143 seats. Foot’s successor, Neil Kinnock was also a creature of the left and he fell to Thatcher in the election of 1987 by 102 seats.
Finally, Thatcher was pushed aside and lackluster John Major took over the Tories. As the Democratic Party did in 1988, when it was finally rid of Reagan, Labor licked its chops at the prospect of a victory at last. But Neil Kinnock’s liberalism cost them the election of 1992.
It was not until 1997 — after 16 years in the wilderness that the moderates in the Labor Party gained the upper hand, nominated Tony Blair, and were restored to power.
Today’s Democrats seem determined to repeat the lamentable history of the Democrats in the 80s and Labor in the Thatcher–Major era by following the likes of Sanders and Warren.
Suicide, following defeat, is in the left’s DNA.
View my most recent videos in case you missed them!