GOP's authoritarian death cult is handing Democrats a major issue for the mid-terms
Inflation, the economy are important to focus on. But Democrats can't cede ground to the GOP, and must focus on its destruction of democracy.
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Events of recent weeks have only underscored the urgency for Democrats to retain control of Congress this fall. I’m sick of hearing from pundits and even many Democrats who are already conceding losses.
We can’t afford losses — democracy itself can’t afford losses. And with the actions of the GOP and the authoritarian Supreme Court, there’s no reason for anyone to anticipate those losses — despite the blathering Beltway pundits and their “conventional wisdom,” which hasn’t actually held since 2016.
The issues for Democrats to run on just become sharper. I wrote a piece here back in April underscoring the ways Democrats should be slamming the GOP.
I laid out various themes for Dems to hit on, to tar the GOP by calling them, for example: “The party of raising taxes on the middle class,” based Senator Rick Scott’s insane plan to raise taxes on 100 million people and sunset Social Security and Medicare should the Republicans win the Senate; and “the party of of Putin’s authoritarianism,” based on the GOP’s refusal to condemn Donald Trump for his calling Putin’s invasion of Ukraine “genius,” and GOP silence in the face of Fox’s Tucker Carlson siding with Russia, while GOP members of Congress are beginning to vote against aide to Ukraine.
But there are two themes I hit on back then that now become even more potent — and a third one I didn’t address but which has emerged more emphatically and which Democrats must use forcefully against the GOP.
One was “The party of the Handmaid’s Tale.” This was before the leaked draft of Justice Alito’s majority decision overturning Roe v. Wade. As I wrote:
The GOP isn’t just coddling those who support authoritarianism abroad. It is radically pushing an authoritarian agenda in the United States. With rapid speed, state after state led by Republicans has banned virtually all abortions after the Supreme Court gave the green light with Texas’s extreme law. And they know the Supreme Court is set to throw out Roe v. Wade, emboldened to take over women’s bodies.
But since the leaked draft, there has been a political earthquake. Initially, many of the pundits just weren’t getting it, so locked in the Beltway bubble. Now it’s breaking through but I’m not sure they — or the Democratic leadership — truly understand how much the landscape has changed. As a talk radio host on SiriusXM, I’d not seen an issue cause the phone lines to light up for weeks, nonstop — nothing like it years. People of all ages and in every part of the country called my show, angry and ready to organize others.
Many in the media have a narrative they’ve written about the GOP winning and how inflation is the most potent issue. Even when a Monmouth poll showed that abortion now tied with the economy as the number one issue on voters’ minds, media reported on it, and somewhat factored it into their analysis, but still didn’t seem to see the massive shift that occurred. And the polling keeps coming in, like this one from the Wall Street Journal today.
This issue, in every poll, is one that motivates men as well as women. It’s a massive issue for older voters, who remember a time without Roe, as well as to young people — the group Democrats need to get out to vote — who are most supportive of abortion rights of any age group.
Another theme I hit on back in April for Democrats to use against Republicans is calling them, “The party of terrorists,” as the leaks from the January 6th committee were showing the bombshells they’d be revealing in hearings this month. And polling has consistently shown that women — from every demographic group — were in particular horrified by the events of January 6th, and motivated to vote on it. And of course many of these same women are outraged by the attack on abortion rights.
Now comes an interview on CNN last might with former GOP congressman Denver Riggleman, who advised the January 6th select committee as a national security expert. He says that was he’s seen on Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows’ text messages is frightening.
The text massages are almost a road map. What people are going to learn are how horrible they are…When I first saw them my bemusement turned into horror pretty quickly when I saw some of the language being used in there. I actually had to get away from the computer a couple of times as I was looking at these text messages…
…You start with, these people can actually believe these things — I was looking at former colleagues that were sending horrific things. Whether it was foreign disinformation videos from YouTube or Rumble or Parlor..I was at things — it almost looked like there was a holy war within the text messages themselves…Sitting and former members of Congress, Trump appointees, donors. You’re talking about group texts…It wasn’t just what they were saying, spiritual warfare coupled with religiosity and QAnon-type conspiracy theories, it was the fact that nobody pushed back, or tacitly agreed, or said, “this is what we need to do.”…
…these are people that are serving our government and you can see that almost QAnon conspiracies had inundated up to the top levels. Some of those were like the Ginni Thomas texts and things like that, it’s absolutely stunning that these are people in power making policy.
January 6th and the GOP’s promotion and incitement of domestic terrorism is only going to become more evident — more than I thought even two months ago — and Democrats have got to use this moving into the election.
And an issue that I didn’t hit on in April, but obviously has been omnipresent and now has exploded again after the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres, is gun violence: “The GOP is the party of mass death and child sacrifice.”
Again, an issue that women — of every demographic group — who led the blue wave in 2018, and organized and got out the vote in 2020, consider one of the most important issues in politics. What we’ve seen in recent weeks is Americans galvanizing out of grief, horror and anger, demanding action on guns and seeing further that it is only one party that is stopping us from having sensible gun laws.
Political analyst Ron Brownstein, looking at what’s happening outside the Beltway bubble, sees the weaknesses of the GOP and the energy of the Democratic base.
Brownstein, looking at the numbers and interviewing Democrats and Republicans notes on CNN.com:
…Democrats have gained in white-collar communities around major cities filled with well-educated voters who generally support both abortion rights and gun control -- a process that peaked with the sweeping suburban gains that powered the party's recapture of the US House in 2018….
Many Republicans agree they could face more resistance in suburbia if abortion rights and gun control remain prominent concerns through Election Day. John Thomas, a Texas-based GOP consultant who has worked extensively in California suburbs such as Orange County, says that until these issues resurfaced so prominently, the Republican path in these areas appeared clear, with voters less focused on their distaste for former President Donald Trump and more on their dissatisfaction with Biden.
"Two months ago, we would have absolutely waltzed through these places with college-educated suburban White women, because they had no real reason to either break against us or turn out," he says. "There's no orange man [Trump] -- there was no wedge issue for them."
No one believes inflation, gas prices and perceptions about the economy — often exaggerated by the media, since the fundamentals of the economy are solid and unemployment is low — won’t have an impact, nor that it’s not a challenge for the president and Democrats. But President Biden, writing about his approach to inflation in the Wall Street Journal, seems not to be speaking to average Americans about the issue but to a media and business elite that keeps hammering him.
He surely does needs keep addressing the issue, and so do Democrats. But they shouldn’t wallow in it and almost admit defeat. They should hit on these key issues that set Democrats and Republicans apart in this dangerous time. Democrats can help guide the economy — and help offset inflation, which isn’t something a president can do much about himself — by giving people relief, such as canceling student debt for millions of Americans.
But they need to make it clear that economic ups and downs happen, and are fixable. After democracy is stolen completely, however, and authoritarianism in entrenched, after freedoms are gone, there’s no turning back — there’s no fixing it. Democrats must make that crystal clear.