Too Clever By Half

Apparently, I was ahead of the curve. In his most recent New York Times column David Brooks laments the financing of extreme Republican candidates by Democrats:

The Democratic Party is behaving recklessly and unpatriotically. So far, Democrats have spent tens of millions to help Trumpist candidates in Republican primaries.

In Illinois alone, the Democratic Governors Association and Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker spent at least $30 million to attack a Trumpist’s moderate gubernatorial opponent. In Pennsylvania, a Democratic campaign spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads intended to help a Trumpist candidate win the G.O.P. gubernatorial primary. A political action committee affiliated with Nancy Pelosi worked to boost far-right Republican House candidates in California and Colorado.

They are doing it because they think far-right Trumpist candidates will be easier to beat in the general elections than more moderate candidates.

What the Democrats are doing is sleazy in the best of circumstances. If you love your country more than your party, you should want the best candidates to advance in either party. And in these circumstances, what they are doing is insane: The far-right candidates whom Democrats are supporting could easily wind up winning.

Mr. Brooks goes on to point out, as I have, that such strategic thinking is misguided and might well backfire:

Many Democrats, living in their own information bubble and apparently having learned nothing from 2016, do not seem to understand the horrific electoral landscape they are facing. They do not seem to understand how much their business-as-usual approach could lead to a full Republican takeover in 2025 — which as this week’s Jan. 6 insurrection hearing reminded us yet again, would be a disaster for our democracy.

He concludes:

In 2020 Biden was the candidate who didn’t seem to be pinioned to the coastal elites. But Democrats are still being battered because of that association. And what are they doing to fix the problem? Spending money to support Trumpists.

Those crazies could be running the country in a few years.

There are a few things missing from Mr. Brooks’s commentary. The Trump presidency didn’t emerge ex nihilo, out of nothing. Trump was actually an effect and he was the result of the very factors to which Mr. Brooks calls attention: most Americans don’t want to live in the country the progressive left wants the United States to become. That is, as Mr. Brooks observes, “a basic difference in how people see the country”.

In addition I think that there’s something that Mr. Brooks fails to consider. Perhaps the Democratic incumbents Mr. Brooks is criticizing in his column love their jobs not only more than they love the country but more than they do their party. One of the key factors in being a successful politician is you must believe that you can win. They believe they can win and stop at nothing to do so.

7 comments… add one
  • Andy Link

    Here in Colorado, Democrats spent more money on the GOP primary than Republicans did. And it turns out that spending was a waste.

  • It worked in Illinois. The least electable Republican won. My concern is that in a wave year he might get elected.

  • steve Link

    I cant figure out why you keep acting as though this is something new. I dont recall you opposing this in the past. Maybe I just dont remember?


  • It’s not the party interference that makes it different. It’s the scale. And to whom it’s being applied.

    Hillary Clinton was a completely credible candidate who didn’t need Limbaugh’s help to campaign against Obama. She also wasn’t particularly extreme. And Limbaugh didn’t provide the majority of the spending in Clinton’s campaign.

    Combine all of those things and apply them at the state level and it describes what happened in Illinois.

  • Andy Link

    Part of it here may be that unaffiliated voters can vote in the Dem or GoP primary, but not both. Given that most offices on the Dem primary were uncontested, making voting pointless, a lot of unaffiliated voters (including me) voted in the GOP primary. And in Colorado, there are a lot of unaffiliated voters (Colorado has long had an independent, somewhat small-l libertarian ethos, at least among natives).

    And I did not vote for any of the candidates who spouted about the big lie or otherwise questioned the validity of Colorado’s voting system.

    I also voted to hopefully get my incumbent House rep booted (Lamborn), but of course that was hopeless.

  • steve Link

    Take your point about Clinton, but the underlying point here really should be that the GOP voted for those extreme candidates anyway, and that no matter how extreme they would vote for that candidate regardless of the opponent. Extreme candidates are getting nominated by the GOP all over the place anyway. Remember the witch? Being a Q Anon supporter and believer is just not seen as reason to not support a candidate by most Republicans now. IOW, where Dems are trying to tilt the election only has a chance to work where the primary was close to begin with. The fact that these were close at all should be the major focus of the story.


  • Maybe it’s different in Pennsylvania. Here in Illinois the more moderate candidate was leading in the polling until the airwaves were swamped with ads both against him and for the most extreme candidate paid for by JB Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association.

    I should add that I’m not optimistic about Illinois’s prospects. IMO the lesson of Rauner’s being elected governor was that only Democrats can fix what’s wrong with Illinois and they don’t wanna. I think Pritzker will be re-elected, continue to spend money we don’t have, and leave no organization behind him.

Leave a Comment