What The Democrats Don't Get | Opinion

Day by day, President Joe Biden grows more unpopular. His approval rating coming into office was north of 50 percent. According to a USA Today/Suffolk poll released earlier this month, it's now at 38 percent. Yet congressional Democrats are willing to throw their seats away in the next election by sticking with his program.

In a rational world, the collapse in Biden's approval rating—and of Vice President Kamala Harris, who's at 28 percent, according to the USA Today/Suffolk poll—would send a signal to Capitol Hill that its current occupants need a course correction. It hasn't because today's Democrats don't understand politics any more than they understand economics.

Biden's decision Tuesday to release 50 million barrels from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a perfect illustration. This administration has made several decisions throughout its tenure that make it harder to take advantage of the nation's indigenous energy resources. America was a net exporter of oil when Biden entered the White House. Now it's dependent once again on imports.

That's driving up the price at the pump. A rational person would read that fact as a signal that we need a dependable increase in supply. "Drill baby drill," if you will. Instead, the president is injecting a dose of crude into the marketplace in an amount so small it will not make a difference in the price. And, even if it does manage to bring the price down by a penny or two, it will probably last for less than a week.

What the Democrats don't get is that their ideas just don't work. Socialist regimes cling to power by tyrannical, totalitarian means—but as a way to organize an economy, socialism has failed in every place it's been tried.

Somehow the leaders of the modern Democratic Party can't seem to figure this out. They'd be happy to extend indefinitely the unemployment payments they increased during the lockdowns the government imposed in the hopes of slowing the spread of COVID.

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 17: (L-R) Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) leave a news conference with House Democrats about the Build Back Better legislation, outside of the U.S. Capitol on November 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. The lawmakers spoke about the $555 billion in the bill aimed at climate issues and clean energy investments. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

There would not be enough space in this column to list every example of the Democrats' distorted thinking. But the American people are waking up to the reality of the Biden presidency. If the Democrats want to survive as a political party that can win national elections, they'd be well-advised to make a change now.

If they don't, they run the risk of descending into irrelevancy outside of a few states and major cities. Even there, though, the failure of their agenda is gaining notice. People are moving away from Chicago and New York and Los Angeles because—except for the Riordan years in L.A. and the Giuliani-Bloomberg decade in New York—Democrats are still trying public policy prescriptions that didn't work in the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s are still being tried. Now that Democrats are trying those ideas on a bigger scale, they still don't work. And they've added brilliant new wrinkles into the mix—like defunding the police abolishing the pre-trial detention of criminal suspects.

You wouldn't accept from your doctor the kind of results Chicago schools routinely offer parents regarding the education of their kids. You couldn't. You'd be dead. Meanwhile, the city's Democratic leaders continue to resist any alternative that could generate improvement, like expanded school choice.

The nation is split, badly, in many ways. These divides don't just separate people according to race or income levels but by faith, by location and even by the way they understand the meaning of the American experiment. To many, including the big-government socialists who run the party today, it's not worth saving. They believe it was compromised from the beginning and should be tossed out on the ash heap of history.

Fortunately, many others—including likely a majority of America's 330 million people—believe the country's best days are still ahead. While hardly perfect, if we work together, we can make things better for everyone.

That's a message that starting to resonate with the electorate. Real reform is coming where it's needed from the Republicans who, while hardly perfect, are nonetheless making considerable strides. Note the number of elected officials now on the scene who are something other than elite, middle-aged, upper- or upper-middle-class white Protestant men.

The incoming Virginia lieutenant governor is a black woman. The new attorney general who will serve alongside her is the son of Cuban refugees. The most powerful Democrat in New Jersey—Senate President Steve Sweeney—lost his seat to a truck driver who spent just $2,300 on his campaign. The winds of change are beginning to blow. The challenge for the GOP now is to develop a meaningful plan to create that change around which it can build back better a consensus supporting its efforts to lead the nation out of its doldrums and on to better things.

Newsweek contributing editor Peter Roff has written extensively about politics and the American experience for U.S. News and World Report, United Press International, and other publications. He can be reached by email at RoffColumns@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.