The Midterms: a Republican’s Advice for Democrats
It’s Time to Get Engaged and Enraged.
As a right-of-center Republican, Never Trumper and extremely concerned citizen, I feel both trepidation and hope. The former is based on the likelihood that Democrats will lose the House and struggle to hold the Senate, although the latter’s odds have greatly improved thanks to what Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., laments as “candidate quality.” But this is not your typical midterm election, and there is a path, albeit a small one, for Dems to defy the odds.
Given the GOP platform, or more accurately, lack of one — except unilaterally opposing the other party’s policies and moving our nation closer toward authoritarianism, I feel compelled to offer advice to Democrats to limit their losses and, perhaps, even turn probable defeat into potential victory.
Fight fire with fire.
For decades, Democrats told constituents the only way to address problems and crises is through government institutions. But a recent Gallup poll shows the lowest point of confidence in at least three decades for all three branches of the federal government. So simply saying, “trust us, we know how to make things work” isn’t enough. There’s got to be visceral, as well as cerebral, motivation. GOP leaders convinced their base that voting needn’t be based on practical policy ends, because they don’t have any, and to instead lash out at the perceived enemy. Democrats don’t need to stoop to the same level of vituperative rhetoric, but along with legislative successes, they must keep sounding an urgent alarm to Republican extremism.
Hammer home Donald Trump’s stranglehold on the Republican Party.
An FBI raid on a former president’s home in search of top-secret documents is unprecedented and, under a traditional lens, this treatment seems excessively vengeful. If the Justice Department overreached, it gives Republicans new ammunition to support a witch hunt and vendetta against Trump, his modus operandi defense. But in this polarized climate, an attorney general and federal judge would not have risked ordering a search warrant if there wasn’t substantial evidence of a crime. And Donald Trump has never respected rules and laws, issuing thousands of proven falsehoods and lies, culminating in The Biggest Lie.
The Jan. 6 hearings have also clarified the extent of the Trump administration’s myriad attempts to overturn the election and how close we actually came to a constitutional crisis. After inciting the riot at the Capitol, the image of a president sitting idly by in the White House without taking any action to halt the attack will be particularly difficult for his supporters to defend. The FBI raid may have enraged Trump’s base and united his congressional allies, but three separate criminal investigations are moving forward with momentum, and the more Trump overshadows the midterms, the worse for Republicans.
Keep highlighting GOP support for overturning Roe v. Wade, talk of abolishing gay marriage, opposition to gun control and climate change legislation, restricting voting rights and indifference to health care reform.
Do voters, especially women, want the government to tell them what they can and can’t do with their bodies or allow laws where 10-year-old girls can’t get an abortion and there’s no exceptions for rape or incest? Where everybody has a gun they don’t need a permit to carry? Where gay marriage could be banned and costs for health insurance and prescription drugs keep rising? And can Republicans continue to be climate change deniers? Democrats need to maximize voter awareness of what the GOP has done and will do when in power.
Talk about successes and play up good news.
Democrats will receive a boost from the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, addressing climate change, spending and health care. Added wins include bills to aid veterans, boost computer chip makers to compete with China, expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the killing of al-Qaeda’s leader.
Yes, polls show that just 14% of Americans rated the economy as excellent or good, but there are historic job growth numbers, unemployment is down, and if inflation slows, gas prices continue to drop and the stock market steadies, then Democrats have substantial achievements to point to. While many voters don’t see immediate improvements to their own personal finances, these modest gains are a much better alternative to the GOP’s empty slate of ideas.
We used to vote for our candidate based on policy positions and persona. Now, many Americans vote against their candidate’s opponent, as elections have become more of an “F-you” than “thank you.” Democrats cannot underestimate Republicans’ capability to organize and motivate their base through anger and resentment. If the goal is to win, even at all costs, Democrats must come to a midterm showdown armed with both accomplishments and ferociousness. You don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.
My final piece of advice to Democratic supporters: Race to the voting booth in November and get mad as hell on your ballot.
Dave Spencer is the co-host of “Practically Political.” You can follow along on Twitter @PracPoli. Spencer’s journey towards practical politics was shaped by his background and a critical turning point in his life. Born in New York as a member of the Rockefeller family, he grew up around a culture of political interest and involvement and being part of a family that is one of the pillars of philanthropy in America.
But a devastating car accident at age 19 cost Dave a leg and the use of an arm. This life-changing injury required a physical, mental and emotional adjustment to deal with the realities of his disability, while also leading him to pursue a positive, pragmatic approach to seeing the world. He currently resides in Hillsborough, California.