Although some elections remain to be called, the overall picture is clear. American voters did not clearly repudiate the illiberal, progressive collectivist policies adopted at the state and national levels since March 2020. While the media focuses on the Red Ripple, however, it is important to note that Bidenomics has not been vindicated. The nation remains deeply divided over many key economic and socioeconomic issues.
Some thirty years ago, Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman argued that what I call the Great New Deal Reset became constitutional because voters kept FDR and his minions in office over numerous election cycles in the 1930s. I show in a book-in-progress that such a notion is deeply flawed because relative popularity at the polls is insufficient to overturn republican checks and balances.
The converse, however, jibes well with the notion of limited government held by all of the Framers and Founders. When “We the People” proclaim policies abhorrent by exercising our speech and voting rights, policymakers must take heed, at least if democracy is to retain its essential Lincolnian meaning of rule of, for, and by the people.
Polling indicates that most Americans want little to do with policies that privilege the feelings of favored groups over the hallowed rights of individuals. People who feel frightened by a virus can stay at home, but should never again be allowed to impose work, school, and travel restrictions or mask and vaccine mandates on those who believe the virus is less costly than the putative means of its control. People who feel that firearms are too dangerous can avoid them, but should not be allowed to restrict their use by law-abiding citizens who see them as valuable tools.
Americans also generally reject policies that privilege equality of outcome over equality of opportunity. It’s a crying shame that people live in poverty here and abroad, but that doesn’t mean that authorities should allow anyone to break US or state laws with impunity. If America’s immigration and drug laws are too punitive, public officials should change, not flout them. Lawmakers, not members of the executive branch, need to do the hard work of reforming a system that provides no “justice” for criminals or their victims. Amplifying the signal sent in Virginia’s 2021 elections, most parents believe that they at the very least should be able to veto ideological or sexualized “educational” curricular content.