Democratic candidates for president try to appeal to an ideological audience that pays attention to early campaigns, but will that hurt the candidates in the longer term?
Some commentators during the two weeks after Donald Trump’s victory ridiculed distraught students and Ivy League administrators who offered them coloring books and puppies to cuddle. But maybe the tears shed at Washington’s new direction will be the most educational event of many college careers.
Many teachers and professors had apparently convinced students that centralized power is a force for progress. Executive orders: good. Supreme Court legislating from the bench: good. Environmental Protection Agency edicts: good. Obamacare maneuvered through Congress: good.
Some University of California at Davis students during a postelection march screamed at onlookers: “You are not America! WE are America.” A Princeton University Press book, Jason Brennan’s Against Democracy, jumped into the Top 20 on Amazon’s list of political philosophy books, just one spot below Plato’s Republic. Brennan proposes switching from democracy to epistocracy, rule of the most knowledgeable, defined as those who pass rigorous exams testing their understanding of the social sciences and policy options.
Since voters with more academic degrees favored Hillary Clinton, some student Democrats might become anti-democratic. Others, though, may learn that what government giveth, government taketh away. Maybe they will join with some conservatives in working to decentralize government and reduce the power of legislators to overspend and justices to overrule.
The question then is whether this November’s winners, flush with power, will remember that governmental control is temporary and cyclical and will use their limited time in office to promote reforms that last. I had close-up looks in 1995 (when the GOP gained a House majority) and 2001 (the Bush administration) at how Republicans mostly failed at that. Twice, as the opportunity for government-reducing reform increased, the political appetite for reform decreased.
Will the next four years lead to strike three? With some Democrats embracing outright socialism, if the big-government apparatus remains in place—and if the pendulum swings back as inevitable disappointments pile up and corrupt people attracted by enormous power and wealth act corruptly—will Bernie Sanders seem like a moderate the next time around?
Republicans at the state level now control 69 of 99 legislative majorities: That’s a GOP record, and in 25 states Republicans have majorities in both chambers plus the governor’s chair. Thirty-four states can call together a government-limiting Convention of the States. It could happen—if Republicans resist the temptation to think they’ll be in power forever.
The Trump victory doesn’t change the imperative to decrease the power of runaway regulators and judges. It does increase the possibility of attracting co-belligerents for the battle. Some liberals may drop attempts to regulate political speech, now that government censors might go after them. Maybe some on the cultural left will cease harassing photographers, bakers, and T-shirt makers. “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
Republicans should remember that Democrats have won four of the last seven presidential elections and dominate three of the five most populous states. Democrats have huge media power and an edge among young people. They would have won in November with a total shift of about 100,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
As one WORLD member, Jim Richardson of Oro Valley, Ariz., put it: “God has given our country another window of opportunity to love mercy, do what is right and walk humbly with Him. The question now: What will the Church do with this opportunity? What will the Church do concerning racism, rampant sexual immorality, and abortion? What will the Church do to interact with the minds of the college students who were demonstrating after the election?”