Their streak of being the competent party was bound to screech to a halt at some point. After a year of being on their best behavior, Dems are in disarray. Again.
The Rubicon was crossed when news spread that President Joe Biden’s attorneys found the first batch of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C. The documents were found six days before the midterm elections, yet the information wasn’t made public until after the midterms were over. So much for honesty and transparency.
Dems might have postponed their punishment, but a special counsel has been named, which means this story ain’t going away. Politically, this is an incredibly damaging revelation. There are dramatic differences between Trump’s and Biden’s mishandling of classified documents, but the nuance will be lost on the public.
And that’s just one example of how Democrats are muddying the previously favorable contrast between their brand and the Republicans’.
In early January, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, started taking a page from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and bussing migrants to Chicago and New York.
Polis’s move drew the ire of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (who is embroiled in another scandal involving her asking Chicago public school teachers to send student volunteers to help with her campaign) and New York City Mayor Eric Adams—both of whom condemned Polis’s actions.
Polis has since stopped the practice of bussing migrants, claiming his policy was different/more humane than what Republican governors have done. But the waters are now muddied. Dems do it, too!
On top of everything else, these behaviors reinforce conservative suspicions about liberal media bias. As conservative Jim Geraghty observed in The Washington Post, the Polis news didn’t garner much buzz because “some people didn’t want to talk about or draw attention to a ‘good’ Democratic governor busing migrants to big cities in blue states the way those ‘bad’ Republican governors did.”
And the hits just keep on coming. On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded flights due to a computer mishap, causing yet another headache for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. This was only the latest problem for the Democratic rising star. As Axios notes, Buttigieg has been plagued by a “historic string of air, rail, and supply-chain meltdowns” during his tenure.
In short, Dems can’t make the trains run on time—and they aren’t (as the saying goes) cooking with gas. Literally. A new culture war ignited last week, when Richard Trumka Jr., a U.S. Consumer Product Safety commissioner, told Bloomberg News that gas stoves are “a hidden hazard” and that “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez then entered the fray, warning about the dangers of gas stoves (which may or may not be overwrought).
Aside from reinforcing their image as heavy-handed radical environmentalists, this controversy drives a wedge through the progressive left. The kinds of “foodies” who prefer gas stoves over electric are presumably the same latte liberals who fund and elect Democrats.
Individually, these stories might be dismissed as much ado about nothing. But taken together, the result is to undermine a year’s worth of success in casting the Democratic Party as the sane and competent party.
These sins may seem small when compared with Republican dysfunction and just plain weirdness. But the goal isn’t to be slightly more competent than the other side. People aren’t going to switch tribes for a team that is only modestly less stupid or evil.
Some of these missteps were probably inevitable, but I suspect that some of this is the result of progressives living in a bubble and wrongly believing they have a won mandate.
On the eve of the midterms, the center-left think tank Third Way warned that Democratic extremism was a problem. After Dems had a surprisingly good midterm, it was easy to dismiss these concerns as bed-wetting. But should they be dismissed?
The border problems aren’t going away. Hunter Biden isn’t going away. Anger about COVID school shutdowns isn’t going away. Dems shouldn’t think that these issues can be swept under the rug indefinitely, just because voters saw their party as the least offensive option in 2022.
If Democrats are smart, they’ll show political courage. They’ll get ahead of these problems through transparency and self-policing. They’ll cooperate with appropriate investigations. They’ll realize that some conservative concerns—such as the border crisis and school shutdowns—are valid and serious.
They’ll demonstrate humility and realize that 2022 was not a popular mandate for progressive policies, but rather a desperate cry for a political party that is not crazy or evil.
The clock starts now. Zero days without an accident.