by Eric Lendrum
If there was a single moment that sealed Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, it was most likely his famous “Because you’d be in jail” line to Hillary Clinton during the second debate. But if there was a single moment that sealed Hillary’s loss, it was her now-infamous “basket of deplorables” speech.
And although no Democrat since has dared to utter those fatal words again, they don’t really have to. The general sentiment of pure contempt for roughly half of America remains on full display, and thanks to Hillary’s giving voice to it, we all know it when we see it.
Similar to Mitt Romney’s foolish “47 percent” remark during the 2012 election, Hillary Clinton’s dismissal of millions of Trump voters as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it” was an unforced error and a self-inflicted wound rolled into one. Quite simply, a candidate will never (and should never) win an election by demonizing American voters. Attacking an opponent is one thing, but attacking his supporters—hard-working, taxpaying citizens—is new territory.
It’s a lesson that two presidential candidates of both parties learned the hard way. And yet several more presidential candidates and prominent Democratic figures haven’t quite gotten the message.
Joe Biden vs. Joe Voter
Take, for example, the latest gaffe from Joe Biden (the list of those, by the way, is now longer than your average phone book). At a town hall event in Iowa, Biden was questioned by a self-described independent voter who, after attacking President Trump for alleged meddling in Ukrainian affairs, proceeded to ask Biden about his own son Hunter’s shady business dealings with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.
In the span of two minutes, Biden responded with a remarkable range of insults. He called the man “a damn liar,” called him “fat,” challenged him to a “pushup contest,” suggested that the man take an “IQ test,” and said “you’re too old to vote for me.” Although it’s generally tough for the decrepit Biden to show any energy, it was clear through his scratchy voice and lumbering, uncomfortable movements that Biden isn’t short on rage.
The moment served as a stunning revelation of Biden’s woeful unpreparedness; to think that the leading Democratic candidate still has not yet had some kind of talking points prepared to address this issue, as if he didn’t think it would ever come up on the campaign trail, from some regular voter. Whether out of pure arrogance or total cluelessness, Biden’s lack of a coherent response offers a hint of what a Biden general election campaign would look like.
But beyond the complete unprofessionalism representative of a smug politician who thinks he’s above all criticism, the degree to which he exploded at the man for simply asking a legitimate question betrayed a truly Hillary-esque disdain that Biden has for any voter who isn’t completely onboard with his program.
The man made the effort to attend Biden’s event, and prefaced his question by attacking President Trump, so it was clear he was not a secret Trump supporter planted to disrupt the event. He was only asking a question on the minds of many Americans about the Biden family’s questionable history.
Biden’s only instinct was to lash out, criticizing the man’s appearance, physicality, age, integrity, and intelligence. And not only is this an average voter; this is an Iowa voter, representative of the first (and arguably the most important) contest in the primaries.
If Biden couldn’t care less about a voter who will help determine if he gets his party’s nomination, then why should he care about any swing state voters, from the Rust Belt to Florida, who dare to ask similar questions? The incident, in Iowa of all places, makes former President Barack Obama’s comments (as reported by Politico last month) seem even more prescient. Biden, Obama said, “really doesn’t have it” when it comes to a connection with Iowa voters.
Mistakes of the Past (and Present)
But Biden is not the only candidate mistaking contempt for candor in the Democratic primary.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is currently experiencing a surge in the polls and is performing well in Iowa, made a statement during a campaign event that has largely flown under the media radar: “Anyone who supported this president is, at best, looking the other way on racism, at best,” he said.
His repetition of “at best” makes his meaning painfully clear. If his “at best” scenario is to assume that the 63 million Americans who voted for President Trump are merely complicit in “racism,” then “at worst” those voters are indistinguishable from Ku Klux Klan members or the crowds at Nuremberg.
In its own way, Buttigieg’s observation is even worse than Hillary’s “basket of deplorables.” Certainly, it’s a far-cry from his efforts to portray himself as a more moderate force in the party due to his Midwestern roots. But it is par for the course for a man who regularly uses his sexuality as a tool to bizarrely lecture Evangelicals on how they need to be better Christians.
Hearts of Darkness
It takes a special level of contempt and lack of class to make a statement that, in criticizing only one individual, is somehow just as reprehensible as a blanket statement labeling half the voting population as racists.
But that feat was indeed achieved during the House Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearing, presided by U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). Despite being a snooze-fest (as expected), there was one moment that stood out not only as symbolic of this contempt for half of America, but also as an example of how out-of-touch the Left truly is.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said it best. When “star witness” Pamela Karlan—a former Obama Administration official and repeat Democrat donor—made an insensitive and obviously rehearsed joke about Barron Trump’s name, the weak laughter from Democratic representatives, Capitol Hill staffers, and Washington bureaucrats in the room could not have been further from the most likely reaction among average Americans. As Gaetz said, Karlan’s position within “the ivory towers of [her] law school” only guaranteed her obliviousness to this.
It’s almost as if the Democrats are trying to kill public opinion of their party and of impeachment. If independents have already turned firmly against impeachment based solely on the clear partisanship and lack of evidence presented by the process, a forced joke about a 13-year-old solely because he is the president’s son is surely going to solidify that sentiment, if not increase it.
As is standard practice with their blindness to true public opinion, the Left often seeks confirmation on Twitter because they consider it to be a reliable gauge of the American people. This also shows their obliviousness. Twitter is nothing more than the ultimate left-wing echo chamber. It’s not real life.
When First Lady Melania Trump rightfully called out this disgusting mockery of her teenage son’s name, the blue checkmark army responded in their typical fashion, calling her “a dumbf–k birther,” a “racist a–hole,” telling her to “eat sh–,” and to “shut the f–k up.” Just for starters. Classy.
Yes-Men to the End
Despite the absolute shellacking of 2016, Democrats still have not learned such basic skills as introspection or empathy. Whether it’s their own arrogance or simply relying on the media to do the heavy-lifting for them, they are still woefully unprepared for addressing the America that rests between the two coasts, and the voters who will truly decide the country’s future next year.
If they can continue lying to themselves about the idea of impeachment being a successful or popular approach, then they can surely continue deceiving themselves into thinking that labeling half of Americans as racists is both true and a sensible talking point for winning an election.
In what they believe to be an affirmation of the popularity of their vile attacks, the Left only marches faster and blindly towards the electoral cliff. Everyone sees it coming, except for the Democrats. It is precisely this delusional mindset that made their defeat in 2016 so satisfying, and we could very well get an encore in 2020.
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Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22).
Photo “Joe Biden” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.