COMMENTARY

Democratic response to special election not based in real world

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I don't think Democratic Party leaders realize just how desperate their political situation is that they would bet their entire party's future and their own massive egos on winning a special election for a single Congressional seat. But outside leftist activist groups got so carried away with anti-Trump fervor that they squandered nearly $8 million on the campaign of a neophyte candidate, Jon Ossoff, for a suburban Atlanta Congressional seat, and he still didn't win, even with the Republican vote split between so many candidates (11) that voters could barely focus on his competition. Yes, it's a heavily-GOP district, so Democrats are crowing that Ossoff did better than expected (48.3%), but "close" only counts in horseshoes. Ossoff still failed to crack the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff in June, when he'll face the top Republican candidate, Karen Handel.

Ossoff may yet win, but it will be harder in June because Republicans will be unified behind one candidate. Also because it will be another two months beyond last November's election. To be frank, most of the outside support for Ossoff was based on raw emotion; he has no political resume, and these activists knew nothing about him or local issues, they just wanted him to win as part of their ongoing temper tantrum over Trump beating Hillary (which he did, fair and square). Tantrums are hard to keep going at full throttle; eventually, even the most out-of-control two-year-old gets tired and falls asleep. And with each passing day, as Trump deals with Syria, North Korea, health care, jobs, taxes, immigration and other issues that adults care about, it gets harder and harder to give a flying fig about the fury of people who just can't get over losing last year's election.

If you think I'm overstating it, look at the approach Democrats took to energizing voters for Ossoff. It wasn't based on his qualifications or vision (he had neither), but on sticking a thumb in Trump's eye. Their major turn-out message was to show anger and defiance by electing a Democrat, any Democrat. In addition to the millions of dollars poured into ads (largely negative), they had Alyssa Milano driving early voters to the polls (because working people in Georgia always vote the way Hollywood celebrities tell them to). The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran radio ads featuring actor Samuel L. Jackson urging voters, "We have to channel the great vengeance and furious anger we have for this Administration into votes at the ballot box."

There's a winning slogan: "Send me to Congress, so I can express vengeance, fury and anger!"

News flash: most voters don't want their Representative to go to Washington and act like a hotheaded jerk having a hissy fit. They have real problems to worry about, like jobs, national security and their families' safety. They want someone in Washington who will work across the aisle to represent their interests and see that they get back something in return for all the taxes they send in. How does it help them to throw away their Congressional seat on someone who promises to go to DC and block, obstruct and alienate the guy who can veto any bill that might do them any good? Besides, Hillary Clinton already tried the "spit venom" tactic. A study found that in the last weeks of the election, while Trump was talking about issues important to voters, her ads were mostly personal attacks on Trump. How well did that tactic work out? Again, I hate to remind Democrats of this but: Trump won.

I occasionally get criticized by fellow Republicans for giving advice to Democrats that might help them win elections if they listened to it. In my defense, I'm pretty certain they're never going to listen to it. In his speech last night, after it became apparent that for all their spending and spitting, the Democrats had once again failed to win, Ossoff gave a perfect illustration of the utter lack of self-awareness of his own party's flaws, which is their biggest electoral handicap. He melodramatically declared that "there is no amount of dark money, Super PAC, negative advertising that can overcome a real grassroots movement like this. So bring it on."

To those of us who live in Reality Land, he just described why his own campaign failed to top 50%: because it wasn't a grassroots movement offering fresh policies that people support; it was an attempt to stir up voters' base emotions with negative ads paid for by dark money from Super PACs. Are they going to keep trying to stoke the anger machine forever by pouring millions into the run-off, and then into every Congressional election until George Soros is broke? It didn't work in November, and despite the surge of leftist fury following the election, there's already a growing sense of fatigue as more and more voters do what Democratic political activists just can't seem to do: they're moving past the last election and getting on with more important things in life. You know, the way grown-ups do.

Mike Huckabee is the former governor of Arkansas and candidate for president.