In our Nov. 10 issue, opinion writer Jeffrey Billman's Informed Dissent column concerned the potential outcomes of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe's loss ("Democrats are bound to learn the wrong lesson from Glenn Youngkin's win"). In Billman's view, "rather than 'moving to the center' in the name of unlikely self-preservation, they'd be better served by locking in as much as they can before Republicans reclaim the majority and halt progress on climate change, health care, and wealth inequality." Several readers disagreed, and at least one offered a cogent argument as to why.
To the editor:
I'm writing to respectfully disagree with most of this article. First, a few things: A, I am registered Democrat but have voted for both parties in at all levels of government (city, state, federal); B, I voted for Biden in 2020; I voted third-party in 2016; and C, I do NOT think the election was stolen from Trump. Kind of sad that I even have to say that, but in this day and age you need to know who you're talking to.
Regarding the op-ed — to your bigger point that the Democrats are likely to lose at least one of their majorities in Congress in 2022 due to historical trends, I would agree. However, I do think the degree to which they lose those majorities is not at all set in stone, and what they do and don't do over the next 10 months will play a large role in just how bad it gets. I would disagree that, because of this, they should effectively just say "fuck it!" and ram through everything they possibly can since they won't be in complete power again for probably another decade. I think that's certainly an option, but I would imagine that would result in a "shellacking," to use the term of former President Obama in the midterms.
A few points that I think you miss, perhaps intentionally so to fit your political persuasion:
1. Joe Biden was elected president because he's not Trump and because a wide swath of voters (myself included) perceived him to be a moderate Democrat who would restore some normalcy to the country and act as a buffer from the party's progressive wing. He was NOT elected to be a "transformative" president, no matter how many times the Democrats say so or would like to think so to go along with their preferred direction of the country. Remember, even though Biden won big, the Republicans gained seats in Congress, would have kept their senate majority if not for President Trump's ridiculous lie, and gained state houses and governorships. Aside from the President, the Republicans "won" the 2020 election. It was not a national call to fundamentally change the relationship of government within society.
2. Again, no matter how many times the Democrats say so, their agenda isn't actually that popular. Yes, if you ask someone "should the government provide free community college?" or "should the government pay for childcare for all children?", you will overwhelmingly get people to say yes. But that's not asking a full question in relation to what is being proposed. Do you really think if what the people en masse wanted was for the Build Back Better plan, in its entirety, to become law that their reaction to the legislative holdup would be to elect Republicans who are united in opposition to it? No.
3. Regarding your comments about CRT — The Atlantic's article "You Can't Win Elections by Telling Voters Their Concerns Are Imaginary," by Yascha Mounk, articulates the problem with that line of thinking much better than I can.
In summation, other than your point that the Democrats will likely lose control of at least one house of Congress in 2022 regardless of what they do, to pretend that what happened in Virginia and New Jersey should not serve as a wake-up call to Democrats across the country is incorrect. It's telling yourself what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear. If you don't want Donald Trump back in the White House in 2024, the Democrats need to change course — quickly.
Steve S., Orlando
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