Blasting out either/or dilemmas should favor Dems: Do elections (or mobs) count? Are we a secular democracy or a theocracy? Is politics warfare or accommodation? Forced births or abortion rights?
Could the news get worse for the GOP? Count on it. Banning abortion? Attacking elected DAs? Defending homicidal vigilantes? Praising Putin? Shielding George Santos? Tolerating Rudy Giuliani? Letting McCarthy’s nutcase cabinet run free? Rampaging Ron DeSantis? Pathetic Mike Pence? Nikki Haley blaming Obama for today’s racism? And Trump posing as the “moderate” – excluding his convictions? What a crew! Thus Never Trumpers anticipate national routs if Donald the Deficient is nominated. What a uniform display of going off the rails.
More important than weekly melodramas, the next election again confronts what will be the operative rules that define governance. For the core thresholds are what Trumpism belligerently challenges: whether one unpopular, minority party gets away with unilaterally vetoing legal and Constitutional norms? Everything else is noise. Thus Dems triumph when making elections about values, destiny and what defines citizenship, not media/propaganda squabbles.
That happens when Dems nationalize elections with irresistibly simple choices – between freedom or state control, disorder or judicial order, tolerance or rank discrimination. Getting lost in the weeds could complicate persuading the critical mass swing voters that their life-styles and future are at stake. Just repeatedly asking whether America is about “the spirit of lawful democracy” or “the violent insurgency of Jan. 6 mobs” will simplify debate. Valorizing elections with basics keeps things sound-bite simple.
The right sponsors the left
You can’t say the radicals Rethugs aren’t inadvertently feeding Democratic prospects. What pragmatic national party pitches the harshest stance against abortion firmly opposed by two-thirds? Or dismisses the aggressive, admitted, knowing theft of top secrets? Or backs the debt ceiling blackmail? Or bans books and censors teachers, even deconstructs colleges. What Dems won’t gain when nominee Trump keeps talking about the “love” in the hearts of berserk (jailed) insurrectionists, so noble they warrant pardons if he’s re-elected?
So, does the deranged right really think blowing apart the Constitution, or public order, is the best way to expand its electorate? Is Marjorie Taylor Greene running not just the House but the party? Does Trump think that committing sedition against a certified election makes him more electable? Or promising to re-appoint wacko ex-Trump appointees, like Gen. Flynn, convicted of lying to the FBI? Or praising those who take the law into their own hands and kill unarmed minorities? Got any support polling, Donald?
Reducing everything to whether we support the spirit and letter of the Constitution, let alone whether we can stand a twice-impeached outlaw with looming indictments, strikes me as a great, simple, winning strategy. Trump, unchanged and unapologetic, has only lost party and public support in two years, yet he stumbles on, ever the political genius. “I am your retribution” sounds like promising apocalyptic chaos. He will never forego delusions that winning depends only on outlandish, attention-grabbing stunts – damn the downsides.
In the largest sense, America is symbolically returned to the open field that faced the Founders in the 1780s when equating democratic governance with law, checks and balances. To paraphrase G. K. Chesterton, “When people choose not to believe in [Truth] (he said God), they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.” This is exactly the Trumpist ploy, after reducing confidence in democracy, elections, and justice.
2024 looms as another test whether the majority stops the latest marriage of lies married to mayhem, the self-serving rightwing version of “believing in anything” goes.
Like strident anti-abortionists (who like Trump stupidly boast of “killing Roe v. Wade”), ruthless authoritarians who defy voting rights or elections or minority rights speak for white nationalist hooligans working to overturn what’s positive about the status quo. And lying, so much more flexible than truth, is the preferred venue by which disrupters spread their mayhem.
Count on Trump doubling-down
If you banish truth in whatever consensual form, all bets are off. Unless there’s a miraculous Trumpist transformation – forbidden by the infallible warlord chieftain, Dem chances improve on running the table: retaking the House and holding the Senate (despite vulnerable seats). All Dems need do is repeat these questions, “Do you believe in democracy? Will certified elections decide leadership? Will the majority rule?” K.I.S.S. wins the day thanks to rightwing witlessness. Cite Florida and red state horrors – then asking if voters want that.
How many Americans favor the politicized state telling local schools what they can’t teach, thus ensuring more ignorance? Do current gun laws not facilitate mass murders? Should the state intrude on difficult, complex (family or) gender decisions? Do you support courts, law and order, wherein legitimate DAs decide on indictments, or do you fancy the scandals and politicization of the Supreme Court? Do you want governors like DeSantis bullying private companies who dare oppose state gay rights discrimination (and wow! Disney just cancelled a billion dollar development plan, costing 2000 jobs in Orlando)?
Forcing votes on simple dualisms (more or less gun restraints? more or less state controls on education or what libraries carry? more or less protection against sexual predation?) cripple the right. It all comes down to whether we favor the democratic governance we have, honoring the founding documents – or violently burn down the entire structure and start again? And who rewrites the new rules?
Under such pressure, Trumpism will continue to shrink, certainly unable to command a national election. It’s hard to imagine Biden, if he holds his own, from falling to any candidate poisoned by this slew of rejected positions. And since Trump is an even greater gaffe machine than Biden, his campaign nonsense will be greater than in 2020. One can only imagine what downsides accrue when he picks another vice-president – assuming only loyalty matters.
2024 – and the end of deviance?
Minority Rethuglicanism has leveraged gerrymandering for power – but eventually defective, ignorant candidates, harsh obsessions, do-nothing resumes (except on abortion or culture wedges), and contempt for majority rule will take their toll. The calamity at FOX, or the scandals infesting rightwing judges, will hardly offset the negatives. For how long can Trump last by endorsing the virtual right of men to harass women sexually – and then openly laugh about it later? For how long will the country tolerate lunatic, politicized House “investigations” mortified by zero evidence, not misconduct by targets.
From the get-go Trump appealed to and lowered the mental age of his audience with mendacity and vast over-simplications of complex challenges, epitomized by his gross pandemic negligence. Perhaps Dems should simply repeat, “Do you want Trump in charge when the next global disease event strikes”? Just that could decide the whole schmear. Polling already favors Dems. All they have to do is lift the awareness of centrists who already distrust Trumpism and shiver at the thought of a re-run. Against this torrent, what is the right doing to stop the bleeding?