A year after Jan. 6, 2020, political leaders are posturing on voting rights, and the running narrative on both sides is that the country is on the verge of collapse, either due to fraud or voter suppression. This is simply not true.
The American political system has worked every time and even on its worst days (Jan. 6, Civil War, etc.). The best example of that last year was when members of Congress returned to the chamber to finish the certification after the violent interruption that evacuated them hours earlier.
Rather than perform its constitutional functions, Washington adopts doomsday propaganda and grandstanding (on the Hill especially). The American political system is highly responsive to poor behavior in Washington, and it responds most when politicians fail to win the argument with the American people. Democrats are learning that the hard way and now want to change the entire rulebook.
Congress is choosing not to adapt to obvious election trends and voter behavior. Mismanagement, hypocrisy and blind allegiance to special interests have monopolized the opinion-generating institutions of the country. These institutions are not aligned with average Americans. Americans want public safety, national security, economic prosperity, freedom to make personal decisions in their lives and equal opportunity to effect those decisions. Two elections in a year have sent that message, and a clear mandate exists to the party that will listen.
Former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, and his behavior since has alienated voters from his party despite actionable appeal on certain policies. His loss was a personal referendum as reflected by significant down-ballot gains by his party. Moderate candidates (in most voting precincts) who ran on constitutional norms and common sense were the clear winners.
Whether in affirmative messaging or deafening silence, President Biden has become a champion of the country’s most liberal policies and COVID-19 hawkishness; his administration has seen the bottom come out of his polling.
A recent Marist poll shows him at 29% among independents with growing gaps in disapproval among key Democrat demographics. His catering of the progressive wing of his party has brought transformative social spending, critical race theory, racial equity, policing, inflation and other “culture war” issues to the forefront of national debate. In response, his party suffered resounding electoral defeats across the country less than a year into his presidency.
In Virginia and New Jersey, Democrats faced scathing indictments of pandemic policy in addition to perceived weakness and incompetence on the economy, Afghanistan, immigration and crime. In precincts where Mr. Biden defeated Mr. Trump by significant margins, voters flipped by double digits.
Liberal policies and candidates failed all across the country and in deep blue locales like Seattle, New York, Buffalo and Minneapolis. It was moderate Democrats and Republicans who made gains in Nov. 2021, again rejecting the national parties’ progressive and MAGA wings.
Washington needs to start paying attention to average Americans.
Democrats are headed toward historical losses because they are perceived as too extreme and incompetent. Republicans are incapable or unwilling to drop election fraud claims or divorce the party from Jan. 6, which continues to chill support among independents. It is a bizarre race to the bottom, but it appears Republicans are the ones who will be given the opportunity to show that they are capable of leading government at all levels in this country.
The worst thing that they can do with this power is to fill its ranks with unserious performance artists and ignore the real issues and problems that Americans are begging public officials (and Congress in particular) to solve and do so properly and not through executive order fiat and authoritarian emergency powers that their counterparts are using so haphazardly.
The mandate is clear: Return to normal and tone down the doomsday hyper-partisanship.
Political leaders need to stop promoting patently unconstitutional legislation, complaining about the rules of their own institutions and resorting to claims that the system is impure and fundamentally flawed. The fundamentals of the American Republic are sound, and the solutions to many of the country’s problems can be solved at the margins through meaningful negotiation and bipartisanship. What works on Twitter and in fundraising is tone-deaf with voters and completely unproductive.
America is not racist, it is not authoritarian, it is not declining, and it is not impure. The Constitution is the instrument of change and prosperity.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Americans deserve leaders they can trust and who understand the power of that trust. For that to work, political leaders need to trust Americans first.
• Richard Protzmann is an attorney in Southern California has been published several times at Real Clear, The Daily Caller and Marine Corps University.
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