Any severe earthquake can be devastating. When one hits in just the right location, the tsunamis that follow can wreak even more havoc.
So it is for the Democratic Party following last week's presidential election. Reliably left institutions — academia, the entertainment industry, the press, pollsters — were completely blindsided; none saw it coming.
I know, I know — they were all living in an "echo chamber," as others have noted. Even so, this is inscrutable. It's like living on the San Andreas Fault and pretending that "the big one" can never happen. Meanwhile, electoral "temblors" have been rattling the political landscape for the past few years: the rise of the tea party, the 2010 and 2014 elections that gave Republicans both houses of Congress. And the states — oh, the states! Republicans now control 32 state legislatures and hold 33 governorships, including in bluest-of-blue Minnesota and Illinois.
The same class of people who've been declaring the Republican Party "dead" since Barack Obama was elected are now wailing that the Democrat Party is finished.
Wrong then, wrong now. But, as is the case with the GOP, a big chunk of Democrat voters have sent a strong message.
Frankly, the Democratic Party leadership went off the rails years ago, when it stopped listening to farmers, factory workers, military folks and other middle-class Americans, and embraced Manhattanite Marxists, coddled academics and "hate-AmeriKKKa first" Occupy Wall Streeters. It was only a matter of time before voters — you know, those "my-family-has-voted-Democrat-for-generations" voters — noticed. In 2016, they noticed. And they finally said, "Enough."
If the Democrats want to start winning elections again, here's a little unsolicited advice:
1. Stop calling people names.
You can't rally people you profess to hate. And, yes, it's pretty obvious that the hard-core left hates a lot of people. Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" comment set off such a firestorm because it summed up so succinctly what everyone to the right of Che Guevara has been subjected to for years. This is one of those foreshocks that should have tipped you off that a sea change was coming. Americans are tired of being called racists, sexists, bigots, xenophobes, homophobes and haters because they disagree with you on policy. You lost because you didn't listen. And how do you respond? By demonizing 60 million people. This suggests that you still prefer to ignore facts in favor of "narrative" (Rolling Stone, call your lawyers), and that you're weak on substance. That doesn't exactly inspire confidence in your political acumen.
2. Stop blaming people for things they haven't done.
It should follow from the above, but just in case it doesn't: People don't like to be accused of things they didn't do.
We've moved from "discrimination," meaning conduct, to "racism," meaning attitude, to "systemic racism" — meaning whatever the left wants it to. It's as if there aren't enough individuals who are actually engaging in reprehensible conduct, so those whose political livelihoods depend upon finding grievances need something new to be pissed off about. Et voila! "Privilege" to the rescue! It was a perfect political tool; it was incapable of being refuted, as refutations only proved culpability. How could it fail?
Until it did. Smearing all people of European heritage was a one-way ticket to Epic Failureland. You shouldn't be surprised that voters pushed back. And, no, they weren't all white, either.
3. Stop using the government as a bludgeon.
It used to be the goal of Democrats to persuade fellow Americans about the rightness of their causes. They had great success in the early 20th century with labor conditions, wages and civil rights for minorities. But the sexual revolution seems to have been a turning point. For the past few decades, Democrats and social activists have tried to use the government to force people not only to tolerate things with which they disagreed, but to pay for them, to promote them and even to participate in them, or else be publicly destroyed.
For a political party that professes its love of diversity, the Democrats seem not to be able to grasp the implications of a very diverse country of nearly 330 million people. So here's a word to the wise: You are never — EVER — going to force everyone to approve of your sexual conduct, your divorce(s), your extramarital affair(s), your college hookup(s), your abortion(s), your homosexual or bisexual or pansexual or ecosexual or whatever-else-sexual thing you happen to dig. And they shouldn't have to. In other words, fine, do your own thing. But stop pushing for ever-larger and more intrusive government to advance your social engineering goals at the expense of our civil liberties. Most of us don't care what you do; don't give us a reason to.
And, relatedly ...
4. Embrace the Constitution.
Look who's discovered the benefits of checks and balances! It's amazing, isn't it, how contemporary events reinforce the brilliance of the Founders? Now do you understand the benefits of a smaller federal government? Why the limits on the Executive Branch matter? Why one party shouldn't cram unpopular legislation down everyone's throats? The Constitution is the set of rules that apply to everyone . That's what ensures that fair play — and fair government — remains fair.
Do I think that the Democrats will heed this, or any other advice? It's too early to tell. But it's a safe bet that if they don't, the disasters will keep on coming.
To find out more about Laura Hollis and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.