Lessons from the Storybooks

Once upon a time, there was a little boy watching his flock. Should rescue from an apex predator be required, he was told, all he need do was call out. For reasons essential to the moral of the story, he falsely called one too many times before it was truly necessary. When the wolves finally descended upon him and his hapless sheep, no one felt obliged to indulge his continued neediness for companionship.

Something remarkably similar is happening as Democrats emulate that boy. Not every partisan slight uttered by a Republican is a travesty of justice. Not every alleged misdeed is a transgression of law, decency, or morality. But these truths go unrecognized by a liberal base animated to action by every gaffe, each misdirection on Twitter, or the laughable knots presidential spokespersons tie themselves into explaining the unexplainable.

A few weeks ago, the internet was aflutter with the news that a legislator had presented a constituent with a cease and desist letter. Oh, the humanity! This single constituent called over 100 times each day and generally made work impossible. Not known is the content of the caller’s messaging, but one suspects for someone as committed as this individual was, it could not have been all pleasantries and flower bouquets. There could hardly be a more “non” non-issue than this, while for instance, one fifth of the EPA’s budget is on the chopping block and 24 million citizens’ healthcare is falling under the axe.

Recently, calls for the Attorney General’s resignation spiked from the background noise of general distaste over the president’s cabinet picks. The call and accompanying accusation of perjury are overblown. Senator Sessions most certainly should have disclosed discussions with the Russian ambassador, but the accusation of perjury by laypeople with scant understanding of the law and a call for resignation that will most assuredly be ignored do little to engender a rebalancing of power among the legislative and executive branches. It is simply spitting into the wind. It achieves little and leaves you covered in your own…ineptitude.

Worst of all is a call from a far-left group to find an ideologically pure primary candidate to take on Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) as punishment for cabinet confirmation votes. This makes absolutely no sense. Trump “digs coal,” you might recall. So does Senator Manchin, so he voted to confirm a climate change denier as head of the EPA. He represents his constituents, as legislators in a representative democracy are supposed to do, but he’s a Democrat in a key seat in a deeply red state. He’s also an incumbent, and incumbents get reelected at ludicrously high rates. Should he be ousted by an ideologically pure, extreme liberal, what do you suppose that candidate’s general election prospects are in a state that went 68% for Donald Trump? It’s shaping up to be a self-satisfying ideological battle in the near term that loses another Senate seat in the long term. That—all of this—is ineffective politics.

Democrats are poised to make great gains in 2018 when the electorate begins to understand the president’s promises are either politically or structurally impossible. However, if they continue to chase every shiny object dangled by the populist-in-chief’s minions, voter fatigue from righteous indignation will ensue, credibility will be assailed, and no one will heed the call to trundle to the polls. Happily ever after will then be left to the storybooks, until someone—with objectivity to match their charisma—wakes the opposition from its coming self-induced slumber.