November 4, 2020. Early morning. The clock radio flips from 5:59 to 6:00. And the radio plays, “I Got You, Babe.” You know it’s coming: the Groundhog Day election.
The Democrats are heading for a replay of their worst day because, like the rude and dismissive Bill Murray character Phil Connors, they can’t relate to their fellow citizens. Oblivious, they’re doomed to make the same mistakes until they learn something.
Get ready to see a lot of stuff you’ve seen before. First there will be denial: “Uh-uh. No way. Can you check the numbers again? That can’t be right.”
Desperate for evidence, the Dems will move on to the next phase: Voter fraud! Diabolical machine errors! Russian hacking! All of this will be given a thorough scourging. Any wisp of a rumor of a hint of a shred of evidence that any of these things happened, regardless of whether any of them happened on a scale sufficient to determine the outcome, will be the subject of screaming headlines and glaring chyrons.
While the process of refusing to accept the integrity of the balloting continues, though, there will be marching. Protests on Fifth Avenue! Huge gatherings in Washington! Hey, kids, join Resistance II: Attack of the Clones. Every Saturday for two months there will be huge, meaningless rallies. Fluff up those pussy hats, ladies! The existence of the marches will be used to reinforce the notion that America doesn’t actually want Trump to be president. As though the actions of one or two million people (at most) can nullify the votes of the more than 60 million who will vote for Trump.
Impeachment failed? No worries. Try the same stuff again. The Dems are already talking re-peachment, then maybe three-peachment. Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi and Jerry Nadler are preparing to subpoena John Bolton to deliver dramatic testimony that will definitively and beyond a shadow of a doubt prove stuff we already know. Given what happened to Bill Clinton’s approval ratings last time impeachment was tried, this impeachment was a lot like the scene where Phil Connors takes a bath with a toaster. And now that it failed, Trump hit a record high in Gallup polling this week, with Americans expressing the most positive feelings they’ve had about the economy since 2000 and national satisfaction at its highest level since 2005. Gallup also suggested impeachment has driven Americans into the arms of the Republican Party: By a margin of 48 to 44, more Americans identify as Republican or Republican-leaning than align with the Democrats.
You know what is rock-solid guaranteed not to happen on Groundhog Election Day? The same thing that didn’t happen in 2016: a soul-searching internal critique by the Democratic party. Why was the party not winning over enough voters, particularly in the Upper Midwest? Could the party possibly have done something to alienate millions of Americans? Might Dems have a problem appealing to moderates? Might this possibly be linked to radical schemes like decriminalizing illegal immigration, reparations payments for sins of the 19th century and illegalizing private health insurance?
No matter which Democratic nominee loses to Trump in November, it’ll be someone who backs policies (such as the “public option” for health insurance) that were considered extreme by their own party just 10 years ago. The Dems will bemoan their fate by lashing out at the Electoral College, the Russians and Fox News.
Instead, if they want to break the cycle of pain, they need to let Phil Connors be their guide and learn to stop defeating themselves by doing the same dumb stuff. Phil was ultimately like a successful politician — he learned to stop lashing out at those he didn’t like and instead reached out to forge connections with a wide cross-section of people. In the process he did two things Democrats really need to do: shed their grumpiness and win over Pennsylvania.
Kyle Smith is critic-at-large for National Review.
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