Commentary / World

The Democrats' sweepstakes of frivolity

by George F. Will

The Democrats’ presidential aspirants seem determined to prove that their party’s 2016 achievement — the election of the current president — was not a fluke that cannot be repeated. But the Republican Party, whose last remaining raison d’etre is to frustrate Democrats, seems to be thinking: We are determined to lose the 2020 election in order to foil Democrats’ attempts to lose it.

The Democratic aspirants radiate unseriousness about things they speak about with solemnity. By their words of endorsement, many of them said that the Green New Deal is a matter of life and death — for the planet, no less. But their actions — zero Senate votes for the Green New Deal — say something else.

Among the reasons these aspirants give for promising to abolish the Electoral College is one reason that virtually guarantees that it will not be abolished: Because each state gets two electoral votes for its senators, the system advantages the least populous states.

Competition in the Democrats’ frivolity sweepstakes is intense. Beto O’Rourke contemplates amending the Constitution “to show that corporations are not people.” Conceivably, he has not thought through why corporate personhood has been in Anglo-American law for centuries: For-profit and nonprofit (including almost all progressive advocacy groups) corporations are accorded rights as “artificial persons” to enable them to have lives, identities and missions that span generations and produce a robust civil society of freely cooperating citizens.

President Donald Trump must secretly admire Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Trumpian proposal — made where pandering is perfected: Iowa — to ban foreigners from buying U.S. farmland. Lest diabolical foreigners take our loam home? No, Warren says foreigners threaten “food security,” hence “national security,” too. Warren and Trump — he who sees a national security threat from imported Audis — are together at last.

“I wore my Planned Parenthood pink!” exclaimed Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at a recent Washington cattle call for Democratic candidates. She, who is supposed to represent the sensibility of fly-over country in her disproportionately coastal party, told the conclave that a “major priority” for her, one that she would emphasize in her presidency’s first 100 days, is statehood for the District of Columbia, a peculiar promise to facilitate retaking Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Julian Castro — former mayor of San Antonio — said that when he is the 46th president he will favor making Congress subject to the Freedom of Information Act. This is perhaps a good goal but not uppermost in the electorate’s mind.

The Financial Times notes that in 2018, exit polls showed that a plurality of voters — 41 percent — ranked health care as their top concern. That was the year when it became obligatory for all candidates to promise that health insurance shall not be denied because of a person’s pre-existing health problems. But Trump evidently is going to seek re-election saying: Trust me, there will be “a really great” Republican health care plan — after the election. Voters might wonder why the coming health plan’s greatness will not be unveiled as an election asset.

The eventual Democratic nominee is probably among the many now running. So the party, with its mosaic of factions to placate (rich progressives, faculty socialists, suburban women, blacks, Hispanics, climate worriers, identity-politics warriors, etc.) and its aversion to winner-take-all primaries, should remember ’72 or ’84. Its nominees, George McGovern and Walter Mondale, won 25 percent and 38 percent, respectively, of the nominating electorate’s votes. In the general elections, they lost 98 states.

© 2019, The Washington Post Writers Group

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