Democrats’ democracy alarmism flops with voters

Several months ago, Democrats rolled the dice. They chose the issues they thought would help them prevail in the midterm elections, and they chose badly. Some of their decisions were, to be fair, inescapable. When the Supreme Court handed down its startling decision on Roe v. Wade, Democrats grasped the opportunity to burrow in on a social issue they hoped would energize their base, and especially young women.  

But their other picks were entirely voluntary and, ultimately, wrong-headed. They decided to continue hammering former President Trump for every conceivable misstep, and to prolong the Jan. 6 hearings to remind voters not only that Trump was a menace but that his attempts to overthrow the 2020 election proved our very democracy is in peril.

You are reading: Democrats’ democracy alarmism flops with voters

This proved a bust. Most voters made up their minds about the riots at the Capitol months ago; the endless partisan congressional hearings into the matter have attracted a dwindling audience. Millions of Americans considered the hearings a political show trial, with no due process and no balance. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) departed from 200 years of precedence by not allowing the minority party to choose its own panel members. That was a mistake.  

Meanwhile, the Biden White House delivered such a disastrous performance on the economy, the border, crime and inflation that Trump, despite his misdeeds, began to look better in hindsight. Ironically, he looked especially appealing because his social media presence was severely curtailed. Many voters began to forget why they rejected him in 2020.

Approval of the former president has actually increased while Speaker Pelosi’s chosen few rail on about the “insurrection” on Jan. 6. In a recent New York Times/Siena poll, Trump beats Joe Biden. Oops.

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Pelosi’s hearings into the Jan. 6 riot not only served to keep Trump in the foreground, they also propped up the ongoing Democratic campaign theme that American democracy itself is under attack. Ever obliging, the media have perpetuated this alarmism, tying together charges that the GOP aims to suppress voting, that various candidates tried to overturn the 2020 election and that the very structure of our government – the Electoral College and makeup of the Supreme Court, especially – puts our democracy in peril.

The public isn’t buying it. Political pundit Blake Hounshell recently wrote in the New York Times that “democracy is not shaping up to be the driver of votes that many on the left hoped it would be.” Clearly disappointed, he concedes that inflation is more top of mind. Yup, when 82 percent of the country says they are having to cut back on food, the soaring cost of living is probably a more compelling issue. 

Hounshell is undeterred, claiming that voters’ disregard for Democrats’ warnings is “yet more confirmation that American democracy is indeed in trouble.” He cites the recent Times poll, writing that “even though 71 percent of voters agreed that democracy was at risk, only 7 percent” picked the issue as their number one concern.

Here’s the problem for Democrats: Not everyone sees the threat to democracy the same way. In fact, more respondents to the Times poll cited Democrats as a “major threat” to democracy than Republicans. President Biden and Democrats combined ranked about the same on the threat scale as did Trump and Republicans.

Respondents named the mainstream media as the single biggest threat to democracy, topping Donald Trump. Some 59 percent saw the media as a major threat to democracy, and another 25 percent considered it a minor threat. That’s probably why a recent Gallup survey showed only 7 percent of Americans have a “great deal of trust and confidence” in the media. Seven percent.

Many, including myself, think the left-leaning mainstream media and social media exert far too much control over what voters see and hear. Censorship, for example of COVID-19 treatments and policies or the Hunter Biden laptop story, is threatening to our country and our democracy; free speech is the bedrock of a free people.

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Many of us are also alarmed that justice does not seem to be blind in our country. When the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicts people for entering or obstructing abortion centers but not pro-life pregnancy care centers; when Steve Bannon may go to prison for contempt of Congress but former Attorney General Eric Holder, also held in contempt for similar behavior, gets off scot-free; when DOJ instructs the FBI to investigate parents outraged by woke schools — well, people lose confidence in our justice system.

Hounshell dismisses such concerns, writing: “Most serious experts on democracy… would say that election deniers [aka MAGA Republicans] are the real danger.” Naturally, he includes ominous references to Nazi Germany, echoing other liberals like Mathew Dowd, who recently likened Republicans promising to attack inflation to Hitler in 1930, coming to power during a time of high inflation.

It is perhaps worrisome that the Times poll shows 29 percent of respondents think Donald Trump was the legitimate winner of the 2020 election. But that response probably reflects varied concerns about the 2020 election, and not that 29 percent think Trump got more votes than Biden.

Our democracy prevailed; Joe Biden is the president, for better or worse. If he had wanted to quell doubts about his election, and bolster our democracy, he should have asked Congress to hold open and bipartisan hearings into the many claims of voter fraud.  

That would have helped heal our country, as Biden promised to do. Instead, Democrats, including Biden, have portrayed Republicans as the enemy not just of their policies but our democracy itself. Shame on them.

Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.

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