Democrats, Voters, and the Economy

I think that presidents and political parties get more blame for the economy than they deserve, so I'm sympathetic to people arguing that one of the primary reasons that Democrats are taking a drubbing this season is that the economy is bad. But there seems to be an epidemic of people arguing that Democrats bear no responsibility at all for their current fate, and I find that extraordinarily unconvincing.


Rereading our own Josh Green's excellent 2009 profile of Chuck Schumer, I'm struck again by the phenomenal miscalculations--I'm tempted to say arrogance--of the Democratic Party.  They really believed that the 2008 election had given them an enormous mandate to do nearly anything they wanted.  They believed that a huge stimulus bill filled with Democratic pet projects would gain them political capital, rather than cost it.  They misled themselves on the effects of Obamacare--both political and economic--as the Official Asymmetrical Information Spouse points out in a new column.

Fair enough if you're an activist who doesn't care about whether Democrats lose office, as long as you get some major programs passed that are hard to undo.  But Democrats seem to have genuinely believed themselves that winning the election meant that voters wanted what they wanted, at least along major dimensions.  Those of us who protested that they were passing these bills against substantial political opposition were told, "Elections have consequences."

Well, it will be interesting to see if elections still have consequences when Republicans win them.  I am in no way enthusiastic about having Republicans back in office; the current platform of extending the Bush tax cuts and . . . um . . . well . . . er . . . seems beyond childish to me.  But I can't say I'll be sorry to see Democrats leave.  It's healthy for parties who overinterpret their mandates to be badly chastened.
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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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