Forgive me for ranting, but I’ve just got to get this out. I am really angry at the way many liberals are responding to the election of Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party in the UK. Apparently, the correct approach to four decades to rightward march — on both sides — is to push for a minor correction to the left. I believe it was most likely be that the new Labour Party leader would be proto-Tory Liz Kendall if Corbyn hadn’t radically changed the race. As it was, she ended up with less than 5% of the vote. Corbyn got almost 60% of the vote. How is that so bad?
For a lot of liberals here in the US, this brings to mind Bernie Sanders. And of course, all good liberals know that Sanders just can’t win the general election. And so a lot of people are freaking out that the Democrats just might nominate someone who actually represents its base. And I’m not immune to that thought. I’m aware that Sanders is likely a weaker general election candidate than either Clinton or Biden. I also know, of course, that who wins is going to be determined primarily by the state of the economy and not the mythical swing voters.
The conservative movement has had an unending string of victories over the last 40 years — both here and in the UK. And that is despite the fact that Democrats and Labour have been in control for a lot of that time. It was not a Republican president who ended welfare. It was not a Republican president who repealed Glass–Steagall. It was not a Republican president who turned the Espionage Act into his own little play thing. This is how politics works. And it is something that liberals seem to be clueless about. It doesn’t matter if your candidates are elected if they lead within the context of the other side.
At this point, I just wish that people would shut up about all of this. We are months away from our first primary. We are a month away from the first debate. I’m a Sanders supporter, but I like Clinton just fine. I’d like to see how the debates go. I’d like to see how the candidates go about distinguishing themselves. In other words: I’d like to have a primary. But I think a lot of liberals don’t want to have a primary. I think they are so convinced that they know what will happen in a general election, that they don’t want to allow the process to work. They must stand up and announce, “Danger, Will Robinson!”
Political scientists have found that 40% of the results of presidential elections are determined by the economic trend of the three quarters leading up to the election. In Lynn Vavreck’s book The Message Matters: The Economy and Presidential Campaigns, she found that the only exceptions to that occur when a challenger changes the conversation from its default: the economy. And even then, the challenger only manages to get the weakest of victors. Think Jimmy Carter in 1976.
With Corbyn, I think a case can be made that he is too liberal. But that is not because of his economic policies; it is about his foreign policies. That’s not true in Bernie Sanders’ case. So the only thing that the Republicans are going to have to complain about Sanders with regards to his being a “socialist” are a bunch of really popular policy positions. But even if they manage to use this against him, will it be enough to throw the election to Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or Donald Trump? It’s possible.
But the main thing that we don’t know. But I feel like I’m in a hell of a lot better a position to talk about this than most liberal ranters. That’s because I actually take the political science seriously. And it appears that liberals continue to be afraid of their own shadows. I don’t intend to blow this election. I also don’t intend to surrender over a year before it happens.