November midterms will show the Democratic establishment has crossed the Rubicon with liberals. Entrapped in their relationship with the left, they can no longer retreat. The establishment is now in a no-win situation: Come November, they will own defeat and liberals will own victory.
In ancient Rome, Julius Caesar was explicitly prohibited from leading his army across the Rubicon River. By doing so, he made an irrevocable decision and the phrase still invokes one: a choice between ultimate reward and supreme penalty.
So stand today’s Democratic establishment as they gaze across at the midterms. Whether by design or default, they are crossing. The reward is obvious: Retaking Congress after eight years. While neither as obvious nor as severe, the penalty is serious, too.
Expectations for this November have been stoked to a fever pitch. Liberal energy is incredible, insatiable and uncontrollable. The Democratic establishment are counting on the first two and acquiescing, or at least ignoring, the last.
In so doing, the establishment have walked into a trap of their own creation. Victory is no longer an option; it is expected. Liberals have guaranteed it, therefore, the only thing that can prevent it would be the Democratic establishment. And it has happened before.
By insisting Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports Paul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book MORE be the nominee, the establishment are viewed by liberals as having cost the party the 2016 election. Rigging the game in countless ways, she and the establishment were not to be denied — as they had been in 2008.
This time, they were owed. The establishment got what they could control: the nominee. What they could not control — the American electorate — got them.
To absolve and assuage themselves, the establishment then sacrificed Clinton. Defeat was her fault, not theirs. It was due to her baggage, her campaign, and her bad decisions — not theirs. However, blame ultimately did come back to the establishment. Because Clinton was them, and they were her.
Frustrated liberals — despite having cast 26 percent of total ballots, voting 84 percent for Clinton and comprising 45 percent of Democratic voters — were left with little more than, “I told you so,” and a lot of animus. That animus has been on display ever since.
Should Democrats fail to win again two years later, the blame will rest entirely on the Democratic establishment. They will be blamed for bad candidates, bad campaigns and a less-confrontational strategy. Instead of liberals’ height, they were “Republican-lite.”
Should Democrats win? Liberals already own that outcome. They will get all the credit. Theirs will be the contribution that put Democrats over the top.
The result? Because liberals won the election, they will call the policy tune. The left will be more emboldened with their party than they are now with the country as a whole.
Already, liberals were on the cusp of being a majority of Democrats’ voters in 2016’s defeat. Two years later, they still have not won every contest with the establishment — Tuesday was not their banner day — but they never aimed to be the whole party, just obtain the controlling stake in it.
They have only gotten closer. Should Democrats win in November, they will be a majority — if not in fact, then in effect.
For Caesar, crossing the Rubicon assured two things: ultimate victory or ultimate defeat. There was no middle.
Similarly, in crossing the Rubicon with their left, the Democratic establishment have left no middle ground for themselves. They have also left no positive either. Ahead of November’s midterms, they have put themselves in a no-win situation, and liberals in a no-lose one.
The establishment will own any defeat, and the left will own any victory. Such has been their desire to get President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE, they have now allowed their left to get them.
J.T. Young served under President George W. Bush as the director of communications in the Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs for tax and budget at the Treasury Department. He served as a congressional staffer from 1987-2000.