Political junkies watching what the Democrats have been doing in 2021 might easily conclude they enjoy committing political suicide. So many of their policies are popular solely with the extreme wing of their own party. Moderates are understandably nervous going into 2022. But it’s independent voters that both parties need to win in general elections, and independents are not fond of the open southern border, defunding police departments, inflation, critical race theory, identity politics, and the absolute lawlessness in America’s cities, a phenomenon not seen in decades.
Democrats know they are destined for minority status after November 2022. So, their short game is to try to get as many progressive policies inscribed into law as possible, despite their unpopularity, because their current majority status might be a once-in-a-generation opportunity for The Far Left. The opportunity may not present itself again for some time. Think of it. With the exception of a brief time in 2009-10, Democrats haven’t had a trifecta (control of the House, Senate, and presidency) since 1993-94.
But why not play it safe by trying to consolidate and improve on their thin margins in each legislative chamber? No. Party leaders have resigned themselves to defeat next year and instead are looking to build on the advanced payment of child tax credits by jamming through free pre-K, free college, and even Medicare at age 60.
Here’s where the long game comes in. Leftists are daring Republicans to undo any of the programs they might get passed. And while none of the leftist policies polls with especially strong majority support, if there’s one thing Democrats know, once Americans get a government benefit, they don’t want it taken away. Like a child given candy, no parent wants to deal with the piercing screams involved with taking it away.
Look at precedent. Social Security. Medicare. Medicaid. Who dares criticize these entrenched social programs? No one does, despite the fact that they are headed for insolvency and combined eat up a majority of the entire federal budget. Consider The Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”)? The GOP gained 63 House seats in 2010, just months after its passage. Still, a clientele formed, and the drive to undo Obamacare proved disastrous for Republicans during the Blue Wave of 2018. Obamacare is here to stay.
There’s no such thing as a temporary federal program. Democrats (and Republicans, too) know this. But Medicare is going broke, with insolvency just five years away. Courageous people in both parties are needed to help rein it in with prudent reductions or even raising the eligibility age. After all, we’re living nearly a decade longer than when the program was passed in 1965. Something has to give. No matter. Democrats would rather exacerbate the problem by lowering eligibility to 60, thus daring Republicans to commit their own political suicide if they ever tried to change it in the future.
Enter the poster child of the Democrats’ long game strategy— immigration. Americans have been aghast at Joe Biden’s immigration policies. President Trump left office with a secure southern border and a “remain in Mexico” policy that was working. Halting wall construction and opening the border continues to drive poll numbers down for Democrats. Their latest scheme—calling border patrol agents racists—is also doomed to fail.
But, long term, Democrats know that every person let in is a potential future Democrat voter. It makes sense. What immigrants allowed in would vote against the party that provided them free entry and transport, housing, education, and medical care? Once in, the road from an illegal alien to a U.S. resident to a voting citizen predictably follows. Once in, expelling anyone becomes nearly impossible, logistically and politically. It matters not that the moment an unauthorized foreign person’s toe touches American soil, he/she has broken the law and is thus a criminal. And don’t forget, every illegal alien’s child is given birthright citizenship. It’ll take 18 years, but that’s a plethora of future Democrat votes.
The terrorists who plotted the 9/11 attacks were incredibly patient, playing the ultimate long game of bringing harm to our country, right under our very noses. Today’s far-left Democrats are likewise patient. They are willing to sacrifice themselves with big losses in 2022 with hopes of gaining bigger, more solid majorities in the latter years. Indeed make no mistake about it; Democrats are playing a long game. And they are hell-bent on winning it.
Jeff Szymanski works in political communications at AMAC, a senior benefits organization with nearly 2.4 million members. He previously taught high school government and economics for 15 years.