Belmont Club

The Liberals Are No Longer in the Driver's Seat. Will They Accept Their New Status?

The Liberals Are No Longer in the Driver's Seat. Will They Accept Their New Status?
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Although the progressives pressed the “destruct” button, it didn’t destroy the populist threat. European capitals are dismayed that long-awaited Blue Wave offensive failed to dislodge their enemies from the crest of the hill. The German DW writes:


Although Democrats made electoral gains in Tuesday’s midterm elections, officials in Germany and other European Union countries said they do not believe the results will prompt a change in US President Donald Trump’s approach to foreign policy…

The Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s polls, but Trump’s Republicans strengthened their grip on power in the Senate.

The transatlantic coordinator for the German government, Peter Beyer, was also skeptical that Tuesday’s election results will ease Europe’s worries, particularly since NATO matters and international trade are under the jurisdiction of the Republican-controlled Senate.

Politico described the high initial European hopes. “Europe’s political class has been waiting for the U.S. midterm elections. Traumatized by U.S. President Donald Trump’s unpredictability and his rough handling of the transatlantic relationship, they have allowed themselves to hope the Democratic Party will make significant gains and put the Continent’s most important alliance back on track.” But it was not to be.

The significance of the increased Republican majority in the Senate did not escape Andy McCarthy. It will allow the president to reshape — some would say take back — a federal bureaucracy and judiciary long dominated by their opponents. “While Dems trip over themselves investigating in the House, Senate must assembly-line-confirm Trump’s nominees. And White House must make sure, pronto, that there is a nominee for every vacancy.” Hardly was the midterm election concluded before the first big opportunity arose. “Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned Wednesday at President Donald Trump’s request. The announcement — made by Trump on Twitter — came the day after the midterm elections.”


The Democrats may fear there is more to come. That they took the House by a small margin might be a good outcome. It will serve as a check and balance on potential excesses, always a danger in any government of men, while leaving the strategic equation unchanged. The rebels held the hill, despite desperate charges by the progressive battalion, but the lower slopes changed hands, as they often do at the midterm, meaning the electoral system still works.

It was a strategic victory not simply in a partisan sense but in a political one. The split legislature means raucous democracy will survive; there will be no communism in America but no Nazism either. It might have been dangerous to have both houses and the USSC under one party. This is an enormous achievement because America is still a working proposition. Other countries might have blown up, but the flag, though tattered, still flies, for now at least.

Communism or fascism — it’s hard to tell them apart sometimes — are much more China’s problem than America’s. Europe has learned of mass concentration camps in Xinjiang but they’re not hoping for an election to change Beijing’s policy. The key fact is that the Left can’t reset the world back to where it was before 2016. It’s a new game now and everyone must play the ball forward from where it lies, not from an imaginary endpoint in the arc of history. The liberals, while still powerful, are no longer in the driver’s seat.  But they are still — and ought to be — one of the players.  The question is whether they can accept that reduced status.


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Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America, by T.J. Stiles. Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in History, this book paints a portrait of Custer that demolishes historical caricature, revealing a volatile, contradictory, intense person — capable yet insecure, intelligent yet bigoted, passionate yet self-destructive, a romantic individualist at odds with the institution of the military (he was court-martialed twice in six years). The key to understanding Custer, Stiles writes, is keeping in mind that he lived on a frontier in time. In the Civil War, the West, and many other areas, Custer helped to create modern America, but could never adapt to it. Stiles casts surprising new light on a near-mythic American figure, a man both widely known and little understood.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger. We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding or “tribes,” a connection now largely lost. But its pull on us remains and is exemplified by combat veterans who find themselves missing the intimate bonds of platoon life at the end of deployment and the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by military veterans today. Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, Junger explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. He explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today’s divided world.


For a list of books most frequently purchased by readers, visit my homepage.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with your friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.
The War of the Words, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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