Doubling down on "double-down"

Wherein we describe what “doubling-down” means and perhaps why the Democrats are doing it.

WASHINGTON, September 23, 2012 ― In a recent column I wrote that the Democrats “doubled down” on socialism at the DNC. My editor challenged me to explain what “doubling down” means. Never one to pass up a challenge, I did some research. I’d intended to write about how bad the economy is, but the economy isn’t getting any better, so that topic will keep.

I’m not a sports writer. If I were a sports writer, I would have titled my article something like, “Democrats Double Down on Dumb at the DNC.” Much more alliterative. Sports writers like that.

See what I did there? I subtly changed the topic. I distracted you from thinking about the term “doubled down” and got you thinking about alliteration and sports writers instead. Just like at the DNC, where Democrats did everything they could to distract you from how awful the economy is and had you focus instead on non-issues like abortion.

It is probably no coincidence that besides “Democratic National Convention,” the abbreviation “DNC” also refers to an abortion procedure. Abortion was front and center at the convention. In order to distract from real issues, the DNC ― the Committee ― have purposely confused the idea that abortions should be allowed with the idea that abortions should be free, a valid method of birth control paid for by taxpayers, at least some of whose religious beliefs include the idea that abortion is murder and that we should actually protect the lives of the unborn. You know, that outmoded “life, liberty” thing. So last millennium!

Outmoded, of course, because the Constitution doesn’t really say what it means: It says whatever we want it to mean. Pretty convenient, eh? The idea that words mean exactly what we say they mean and nothing more comes from the philosopher Humpty Dumpty, who first mentioned the notion in his children’s classic Through the Looking Glass:

“’When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’”

I really don’t mean to say that Democrat progressives follow the philosophy of children’s books. Far from it. The philosophy they do follow is properly called Postmodernism. It was further developed by such philosophers as Jean Paul Sartre, who wrote the masterpiece Nausea.

Sartre, and subsequently every left-thinking liberal, believed that it didn’t matter what you thought; what mattered was how you felt. Fellow existentialist Albert Camus wrote the famous book, The Stranger, in which a Frenchman living in Algeria walks down to the beach one day and shoots an Arab dead. Why? It had something to do with the brightness of the water reflecting the sun and how that felt. Basically, he just felt like it. You see, it doesn’t matter what you think but how you feel.

To be fair to Camus and his story line, the murderer is apprehended and eventually given an appointment with Madame Guillotine. Thus even Camus wasn’t sufficiently liberal: as everyone knows, capital punishment is cruel and unusual and barbaric.

It was left for Saturday Night Live to express the ultimate form of postmodern philosophy when Billy Crystal said, “It doesn’t matter how you feel, it matters how you look, and dahling, you look mah-velous.”

And didn’t Michelle Obama look mah-velous as she, um, “exaggerated” the poorness of her middle-class background? Or the serial philanderer Bill Clinton as he defended women’s rights? Or Barack Obama, who has never lifted a finger to help his Kenyan relatives, as he promised seniors he’d look out for their social security?

Oops. More distractions. You see, the Democrats think they can win if they distract you from the terrible consequences of their chronic mismanagement of the economy and instead focus you on social issues, where they think they have an advantage. I don’t think they hold any sort of moral high ground on social issues. Quite the contrary.

But they double down on these progressive social issues because it’s all they have. No new ideas, just recycled ones from 1848, 1917, 1932, 1964, and 2008. They count on the fact that most of their supporters don’t know what happened in any of those years except, perhaps, for 2008.

That reminds me, as it might have reminded you, that I was supposed to clarify what “doubled down” means. It is a Blackjack term that refers to a player’s option to double their bet and receive one more card. The phrase made the Buzzword of the Week back in 2010. Since then it has been increasingly used in business and in politics.

In politics, it seems to have the sense of another gambling term, “let it ride” but that doesn’t quite capture the complete idea. I think it implies not only staying on the same course but also accelerating. That’s an Alinsky idea: Pick a strategy, and when the going gets tough, don’t back off, put the pedal to the metal. That’s what they did in 2009 and 2010 with their health care bill. When in the summer of 2009 it became obvious that the American people didn’t want the bill they regrouped and passed it anyway.

That’s what doubling down means. It turns out that it is also the name of a saloon—the Double Down Saloon in Las Vegas, home of the fabled Ass Juice. I don’t know what’s in Ass Juice, but it seems to neatly tie together gambling, “double-down,” and the party whose symbol is a donkey.

How’s that doubling-down working out for them? We’ll know for sure in November, but right now Romney is up six points in North Carolina.


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Al Maurer

Al Maurer is a political scientist and founder of The Voice of Liberty. He writes on topics of limited government and individual rights.

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