Do Democrats really understand why that red wave is coming?

Democrats may not like it, but they know what’s in store for them in November. That may be one reason that so many of them have decided not to run for reelection — 31 in the House at last count, a 30-year high, according to news reports. When a freight train is heading in your direction, it’s wise to get out of the way.

But it’s not at all clear that Democrats understand that this time around, it’s more than “the economy, stupid.” 

They may grasp the obvious: Inflation is a major issue as the midterms approach. If just about everything you buy costs more today than it did yesterday, they know that voters tend to blame the party in charge.

But it’s not only prices that are rising; it’s discontent in general. There’s a growing sense of alienation among many Americans who follow the news and wonder what’s happening to their country. There has always been a gap between liberal elites and ordinary Americans, but the gap has become a chasm.

Many Americans wonder why liberal elites think it’s a good idea to teach very young children about sex and gender orientation in public schools. Starting in September, first-graders in New Jersey will learn about gender identity. This is what a sample lesson from one school district looks like: “You might feel like you’re a boy even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are ‘girl’ parts. You might feel like you’re a girl even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are ‘boy’ parts. And you might not feel like you’re a boy or a girl, but you’re a little bit of both. No matter how you feel, you’re perfectly normal!”

Liberal elites may think that teaching first-graders such topics is a wonderful idea, but a lot of parents don’t — and they don’t want to be smeared as bigots, or as too stupid to understand, just because they’re against it.

Then there’s crime, which is out of control in many cities that are run by liberal and progressive Democrats. News clips show looters stealing from stores and casually leaving with bags full of merchandise. The thieves know that if on the outside chance they’re arrested, no-cash-bail laws passed by Democratic legislatures will mean they’re back on the street in no time flat, and there’s a good chance they won’t spend even 10 minutes behind bars because progressive district attorneys will find some reason not to prosecute them. Ordinary Americans wonder how this can happen to our country.

When crime is raging through cities across America, voters don’t embrace soft-on-crime politicians — or the party they represent. They reject them. 

Voters also see what’s happening at our southern border, with uncontrolled immigration, and they don’t want to be dismissed as anti-immigration bigots because they don’t like what’s happening to their country.

Most Americans don’t want to “fundamentally change” America, something many on the Democratic left proudly acknowledges is their goal. They don’t want to be lectured by liberal elites, either, about how America is fundamentally — systemically — racist. Most Americans want to say what’s on their minds without fear of being “canceled” for having opinions the “woke” crowd finds unacceptable. 

As November approaches, voters will remember which party locked down our cities during the pandemic and crushed businesses because they supposedly were “following the science,” and which party’s autocrats mandated masks and vaccines, and which party closed schools because a major benefactor, the teachers’ unions, wanted it that way. They’ll remember all those Democratic mayors and governors who told us that we had to wear masks and stay at home because that was the prudent thing to do — while they dined out at fancy restaurants or went mask-less while taking pictures with celebrities.

They’ll remember who demeaned them because they object to their children being taught that some of them are oppressors and some are oppressed because they were born white or Black. 

Most of all, I think, voters will remember the arrogance of liberal elites who come across as self-important sophisticates who are convinced they know what’s best for everybody — everybody who isn’t as smart as these elites think they are.

Despite all this, there are some progressives who think the reason that Democrats are likely to be run over in November is that they’re not left-wing enough. Being “woke” means never having to acknowledge that you’re not in sync with mainstream America. 

Yes, inflation matters to Americans. But culture matters, too. And Democrats will find out how much it matters soon enough.

Bernard Goldberg is an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist. He was a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for 22 years and previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Substack page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.

Tags 2022 midterms Crime Gender identity Inflation Liberal Democrats progressives

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