Biden Warns Democracy at Stake

Is the President governing like he means it?

WaPo (“Biden warns GOP could set nation on ‘path to chaos’ as democratic system faces strain“):

Signs of strain in the nation’s democratic system mounted Wednesday with less than a week left before the midterm elections, as President Biden warned that candidates who refuse to accept Tuesday’s results could set the nation on a “path to chaos.”

Biden’s grim assessment in a speech Wednesday evening came as the FBI and other agencies have forecast that threats of violence from domestic extremists are likely to be on the rise after the election. In Arizona, voters have complained of intimidation by self-appointed drop-box monitors — some of them armed — prompting a federal judge to set strict new limits. And the GOP has stepped up litigation in multiple states in an effort to toss out some ballots and to expand access for partisan poll watchers.

Speaking at Washington’s Union Station — steps from the U.S. Capitol, which was attacked by a pro-Trump mob in the wake of the nation’s last major election — Biden warned of an ongoing assault on American democracy. The president spoke as a growing number of major Republican candidates have said they may follow in former president Donald Trump’s footsteps and refuse to concede should they lose.

“It’s unprecedented. It’s unlawful. And it is un-American,” Biden said. “As I’ve said before, you can’t love your country only when you win.”

The virtually unprecedented presidential message — a plea to Americans to accept the basic tenets of their democracy — came as millions of voters have already cast their ballots or are planning to go to the polls on Election Day, and as some election officials expressed confidence that the system would hold.

[…]

Last week, multiple government agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, issued a memo warning that threats posed by domestic violent extremists would probably increase in the 90-day post election period, according to a copy of the document obtained by The Washington Post.

The memo listed possible scenarios that could trigger more violence, including “actual or perceived efforts to suppress voting access.”

“Following the 2022 midterm election, perceptions of election-related fraud and dissatisfaction with electoral outcomes likely will result in heightened threats of violence against a broad range of targets — such as ideological opponents and election workers,” the memo read.

Election officials have said they don’t quite know what to expect, given promises from various Trump-supporting organizations to flood polls and counting stations with partisan observers. Trump allies have urged his backers to lodge frequent challenges, action that officials say could disrupt the process.

Josh Barro identifies “The Problem With ‘Pro-Democracy’ Rhetoric.” Or, actually, two problems. The first summarizes my reaction to the speech:

First of all, as a political matter, Republican pollster Patrick Ruffini is right: This is a message of primary interest to the most core voters in the Democratic Party coalition. They are sure to vote for Democrats already — in fact, many of them have already voted. The idea that telling voters about January 6 one more time would help anything is just crazy.

Now, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth saying. Indeed, I would argue that it’s the President’s duty to say it. But, as electioneering, it’s not going to move the needle.

But the other problem is that the message makes no sense on its face.

When Democrats talk about “democracy,” they’re talking about the importance of institutions that ensure the voters get a say among multiple choices and the one they most prefer gets to rule. But they are also saying voters do not get to do that in this election. The message is that there is only one party contesting this election that is committed to democracy — the Democrats — and therefore only one real choice available. If voters reject Democrats’ agenda or their record on issues including inflation, crime, and immigration (or abortion, for that matter), they have no recourse at the ballot box — they simply must vote for Democrats anyway, at least until such time as the Republican Party is run by the likes of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

This amounts to telling voters that they have already lost their democracy.

I simply disagree with that. In a two-party system, democracy is about choosing between those two parties. And Biden is arguing—correctly in my view—that one of the parties has resorted to violence and intimidation to influence elections and to contest results they don’t like. He’s saying that, therefore, choosing his party is the best choice for those who value free and fair elections and the rule of law.

Here, though, Barro is more convincing:

In countries where there is a real cross-ideological coalition to protect democracy, this is not how it works. In Israel and Hungary, coalitions of ideologically diverse parties have set aside their differences to run on very narrow governing agendas that are essentially about keeping the other side out. This approach has worked in some elections but not in others, but it hasn’t involved the Labor Party in Israel telling various right-wing anti-Netanyahu parties they must sign onto a full spectrum of left-of-center issue positions to share a coalition. This is how such coalitions engage in democratic accountability — if you’re going to tell people they must vote for your side to keep a dangerous authoritarian out, you also do what you can to make them feel ideologically comfortable within the coalition on issues besides elections themselves.

We have seen in recent years how no-choice politics works out. If your message to voters is that they have no choice but you, you had better make yourself a palatable choice — otherwise, they are liable to defy you and choose what you claimed was unthinkable. But Democrats have not governed like they had better win the widest swathe of voters possible, as they would if they really believed our democracy is at grave risk if the other side wins.

I think that’s right. They’re governing as though they won a normal election, by enacting as much of their long-standing agenda as possible so as to please their core voters.

Biden ran for the Democratic nomination as a centrist, arguing that the number one priority was defeating Donald Trump. He was successful in both campaigns. But he has tried to govern as an FDR, making sweeping changes, despite a mandate to simply restore normalcy. He’s done that despite narrow control of the House and a 50-50 split in the Senate that allows him to pass only measures that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema sign onto and that the parliamentarian rules can bypass the filibuster. That’s not going to win over a lot of moderate Republicans.

I’m less persuaded by this:

First of all, they have been insufficiently attentive to economic factors they now acknowledge are likely to drive this and future elections. Joe Biden knew that world events beyond his control could spike gasoline prices, yet his fear that voters might punish him for this did not give him pause when he pursued an agenda from day one that discouraged North American production of oil and gas, including pausing drilling leases and canceling the Keystone XL pipeline. He was blasé about the risk that the American Rescue Plan would overstimulate the economy and spur inflation, ignoring the warnings of mainstream Democratic economists like Larry Summers. He spent much of 2021 trying to get Congress to approve a multi-trillion dollar package of new social spending that would have been even more inflationary.

A lot of this is simply hindsight being 20-20. There’s no way he could have known in January 2021 that oil prices would skyrocket or that supply chain problems that manifested during COVID would continue indefinitely; it’s absurd to expect him to have altered his agenda based on those eventualities.

The American Rescue Plan is another matter. It was the fulfillment of a campaign promise made under different circumstances than he faced once he took office. We simply didn’t need another giant stimulus package. Even there, though, that it would be inflationary was by no means a certainty. Summers was in the minority among prominent Democratic economists; Paul Krugman and others dismissed the suggestion. Even now, the consensus seems to be that the spike in prices has many causes, with the stimulus being a rather negligible contributor.

He approved an extra-legal cancellation of hundreds of billions of dollars of student loan debt in a manner never contemplated by Congress (so much for democracy!). His party has coalesced around increasingly rigidly progressive positions and rhetoric on issues including abortion, sex and gender, and immigration, and Biden himself moved in a more extreme direction on abortion by rejecting the Hyde Amendment, which he had long supported — hardly an effort to broaden the coalition.

Again, this is simply Biden governing as the head of the Democratic Party and needing to keep his own faction happy. But Barro is right that this doesn’t seem like the way a man who thinks the survival of American Democracy is at stake.

Barro saves his best argument for last:

And — most demonstrative of all of the fact that the “threats to democracy” rhetoric is not serious — Democratic campaign committees have spent millions of dollars trying to elevate Republican candidates who are objectively more threatening to democracy than their primary opponents were, on the theory that those candidates were less likely to win general elections. That theory is correct, but the odds of those candidates winning is still not zero. The necessary implication is that the risk of those candidates winning is an acceptable one, part of the ordinary course of two-party democracy, rather than an existential threat to the institutions we hold most dear.

We’ve discussed this issue before. This is Democrats exploiting the extremism within the Republican nominating electorate for their own electoral advantage. It’s hardball politics but not inherently wrong. It might even allow them to keep control of the Senate. But it could also backfire, putting extremists into office.

There is nothing inherently wrong with pressing your advantage in an election you won narrowly to achieve as much of your agenda as you can. The idea is that you might lose the next election, but at least you’ll leave behind some durable achievements. The Affordable Care Act was worth losing the 2010 election over. But that’s the implication — that this is a normal election, you win some and you lose some, and life goes on in a democracy.

If Democrats truly believed differently, they would have governed differently. You can see from their actions that they are not actually serious about the arguments they’re making now, and I for one am sick of the disingenuous speechifying.

Again, he’s not wrong.

And yet Biden and company aren’t just spouting empty rhetoric. The last President brought an angry mob to the Capitol on the day Congress was to count the Electoral College votes and incited them to storm the building as the count was to start, delaying it for hours. His co-partisans continue to claim that the election was stolen, despite there being no evidence of that. And the notion that the FBI and the rest of the federal intelligence and law enforcement community are somehow agents of the Democratic Party, making false findings to help them win the midterms, is laughable.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2022, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Rick DeMent says:

    As of this moment the GOP isn’t even trying to hide what they intent to do.

    They are straight up using the levers of power to enshrine Republican’s power in perpetuity.

    The Supreme Court lead by “Chief Justice” Thomas will clear the way legally to hand over control of more then half our states to gerrymandered show elections that will look more like Putin’s Russia then Harry Truman’s Kansas.

    This is not a drill.

    I remember a long while talking to someone who was looking for a subject for a documentary. In a “casual” pitch of a few beers I was trying to get him to make a film about the rise of Hitler that casts the dictator in a fairly sympathetic light to show how easy it would be for well meaning people to get caught up in the madness. He told me I was crazy, that no one would understand it and he would be called a NAZI himself. The thing is he was probably right at the time. No one would have taken it seriously. But now we are living it in real time.

    It’s the same thing as when Sinead O’Connor ripped up the picture of the pope back in 1992. At the time people were outraged at her hate and she was denounced by a lot of people who simply were not aware of the brewing scandal of child abuse in the Catholic church. She saw it way before most people did at the time (because the story was breaking in her home of Ireland but had been exposed here in the US) but she was the one who paid the price. People instinctively protected the Church because it was such a variable institution. And people protected it at all costs to the detriment of how many broken lives

    The same thing is happening here. The GOP is not a political party anymore in the US republican democracy. They are an insurgent government trying to size control and I’m starting think that if they make broad gains next week it will be pretty much game over. Even if the Democrats pull off a “Miracle on Ice” and hold the congress, we are going to be mired in lawsuits for the next two years trying to prevent elected democrats form taking office with the assistance of the Thomas court. And they have the means to do it.

    I will blame anyone who gave these thieves oxygen over the last 20 years.

    9
  2. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    First…I find it hard to take anyone who leans on Larry Summer’s advice as a serious person.
    Then there is this;

    …if you’re going to tell people they must vote for your side to keep a dangerous authoritarian out, you also do what you can to make them feel ideologically comfortable within the coalition on issues besides elections themselves.

    This is all well and good but in the typical whiny Republican manner there are no solutions posed. Biden took office in the middle of a shit-show left to him by Republicans. Now, I would certainly agree that Biden may have stepped on the economic gas pedal a little harder than necessary but that’s not the argument Barro seems to be making. What WOULD have made him ideologically comfortable? Yet another tax cut for the wealthy? (Barro did work for Grover Norquist)

    …he pursued an agenda from day one that discouraged North American production of oil and gas, including pausing drilling leases and canceling the Keystone XL pipeline.

    Yet domestic oil production has been steadily increasing since Biden took office. This is nothing more than a polite way of repeating the same right wing talking points of that Greene lady from GA. Saying it politely doesn’t make it any more true.
    Barro seems like a confused young man who won’t be happy until he finds a political party to coddle him in just the perfect way he likes to be coddled. If only he can find his Goldilocks Party.
    Biden was not my choice for this office and I hope that he will not run again. There is plenty he has done that I do not agree with. But that does not change the reality that if the GOP wins we may never have another real election in this country. In my view that IS THE ONLY ISSUE ON THE BALLOT next Tuesday. And this kind of crap, from Barro and others like him, is nothing but disingenuous bloviating.

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  3. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:
    Does Barro find nothing in the myriad accomplishments of Biden that makes him happy?
    Scads of manufacturing jobs being created?
    Record job creation?
    GDP increases?
    Holding Russia at bay in Ukraine?
    A landmark maritime agreement between Israel and Lebanon?
    Bi-partisan gun law reform?
    All these things should make disaffected Republicans, like Barro, happy.
    Unless they are just pre-disposed to whining….

    7
  4. drj says:

    Well…

    In Israel and Hungary, coalitions of ideologically diverse parties have set aside their differences to run on very narrow governing agendas that are essentially about keeping the other side out. This approach has worked in some elections but not in others

    So the Democrats must alienate part of their constituency for an uncertain benefit?

    Also, the comparison with Israel and Hungary doesn’t really work IMO as US elected representatives and senators have far more of an individual mandate, see, e.g., Joe Manchin or Liz Cheney’s role on the 1/6 Committee. (“Weak parties,” anyone?) – which means that Democrats could easily work with (de facto) Republicans if only some of them would be willing to even entertain that thought.

    But somehow it always boils down to “Democrats must tack to the center,” while in reality that center is nowhere to be found.

    I’m also catching strong “only Democrats have agency” vibes here.

    Why not describe reality – which is that there are basically no decent Republicans left? At least that position has the benefit of actually being true. There is no way out of this mess without first acknowledging reality.

    I bet that if American democracy ends, most of the useless pundit class will end up blaming the Dems.

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    Even the liberal Larry Summers …

    I’m worried about the country turning into an electoral autocracy and Josh Barro wants to argue about whether Dems should go for the median voter or turnout. When Biden has done both.

    3
  6. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @drj:
    It’s all Obama’s fault.

    2
  7. Andy says:

    As I often repeat here, what people actually do is almost always more important than what they say.

    2
  8. Scott says:

    I just sometimes think this country is on a suicide glidepath and that there is nothing that can be done to stop it. I try to find analogous historical situations for prosperous and mostly peaceful nations inexplicably go down a dark path and all I can think of is pre-WWI Europe, 1920s/30s Germany, early 20th century Argentina. There may be others but there seems to be an inevitability to it all.

    5
  9. steve says:

    I have to agree that the Dems have not made it easy for more moderates to join them. Some of this is just messaging, but the messaging seems mostly aimed at the progressive base of the party. While the GOP has mostly aimed at pleasing its base, theirs is much larger. Dems actually need to pull in some people who are more moderate. They get some of those people just because they are going to vote against the radicals of the GOP but there ought to be affirmative reasons also or at least remove the negatives.

    Steve

    4
  10. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @steve:
    Sure, Steve. How?
    What would make you want to vote for a Democrat?
    GDP growth?
    Manufacturing job growth?
    Record unemployment?
    Landmark diplomatic success?
    What’s it gonna take to put you in a Blue Vote next Tuesday?

    8
  11. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    All of these arguments come back to;

    I wanted to preserve Democracy, really I did. But gas was SOOOO expensive.

    It’s all bollocks.

    12
  12. Beth says:

    @steve:

    Exactly what messaging is going to fix anything? The Republicans spent 40 years lying about inflation and now there is an actual blip, how do you counter that?

    New York City is one of the safest places in the country. If you listen to Republican lies it’s Bartertown. But of course, “defund the police” is the actual problem.

    When Republicans win we’re going to get a full on national Abortion ban, Federal “Don’t Say Gay” and a creeping Trans Genocide. Exactly what messaging is going to get us out of that? Dems saying “I don’t understand Trans kids, but hey, maybe they should live” is going to run into the buzzsaw of my in-laws saying “Well, maybe they’re not groomers, but kids don’t know anything”. What message is going to fix that.

    Hell, I thought about texting them and telling them to remember me and my kids before the vote for any Republicans. Exactly ALL of them are going to vote R. They will condemn me and my family for bullshit. There is no messaging I could use to dissuade them otherwise.

    12
  13. Rick DeMent says:

    All the belly aching over gas prices and inflation is nothing more then this years …

    “… but her emails”.

    Our entire political system rests on the mercurial nature of a segment of voters that literally know nothing about what’s going on in the country and don’t posses the wherewithal to understand the impacts of policy on their own lives.

    10
  14. Rick DeMent says:

    @Beth:

    My son-in-law did the same thing regarding my trans grandkid and got the same reaction; “… you brought this on yourself”.

  15. Modulo Myself says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    Look, there are real failures going in America. Sprawl makes high gas prices a problem. The criminal justice system is terrible, and the notion of public health or housing does not exist.

    It’s just that the Republican solutions are empty authoritarian attacks on defund the police or Biden’s energy policy. The Democrats are half as attracted to the same authoritarian belief system. Loving cops and hating academics and worshiping the status quo even as it crumples apart is just as much of the lives of your average Democrat. The last two years have been spent hearing boring assholes talk about a few protests in the summer of 2020 and how it ruined everything for the Democrats, and I expect that woke academics and the left will be blamed even more if the election goes for the Republicans. At a certain level, it doesn’t matter. This country is on one hand actually pleasant if you know the right people, and on the other a horror show constructed around shooting itself in its own foot over and over and over, and then blaming the left. The horror show, however, pays the bills.

    4
  16. Beth says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    I can’t help but think we’re doomed.

    1
  17. steve says:

    OK, lets pick one. Defund the police. In terms of actually carrying out defunding it was done almost nowhere. Where is was done funding is being restored almost everywhere. The message should have been that we need to reassess the police and in some cases redirect funding to things like social work which will give us less crime. So in practice very few Democrats support defunding the police. In messaging the right did a great job of hanging that around the necks of Dems AND they have mostly avoiding saying anything bad about defunding since it will anger their own base.

    Crime is a concern among moderates and I think there is pretty good evidence it is probably going to affect voting. Sure has gotten a lot of ads. Is it overblown? Sure in some cases, but who really likes crime? Why not make an affirmative argument that also recognizes crime is a problem and offers better solutions. Something like “Hi. Im Jon Doe a Democrat running for governor and I think crime is a problem. Here are my solutions.”

    Steve

    3
  18. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @steve:

    “So in practice very few Democrats support defunding the police. In messaging the right did a great job of hanging that around the necks of Dems…”

    What you are really saying is that Republican propaganda is more powerful than the truth, right?
    How do you suggest Democrats overcome the right-wing propaganda machine?
    Biden:

    “No, I don’t support defunding the police. I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness. And, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community.”

    Here’s the thing, Steve. It’s far easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

    7
  19. Modulo Myself says:

    @steve:

    There is a difference between crime and Law and Order. Republicans are running on Law and Order, which is about symbolism and being afraid and more importantly the right as an American to be afraid and angry about crime. The Democrats have been absolutely terrible at trying to distinguish crime from Law and Order, but that’s nothing new.

    3
  20. Kathy says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    years ago during a heated online argument, I came up with the phrase “fight sophistry with wittier sophistry.”

    I’m not saying this as a joke: you fight propaganda with propaganda. Look at what the Allies published in posters, films, etc. during WWII, for example.

    2
  21. Gustopher says:

    From the headline, I thought this post was going to be about how Biden hasn’t been using the federal government to protect democracy.

    Campaign workers are being hounded out of their jobs by death threats around the country, and it’s not being taken seriously. That sort of thing.

    There’s every chance that this upcoming election is going to be a shit show of incompetence on top of everything else, and the people who have been making death threats are still out there and will use the chaos they created to further hurt America (while calling themselves Patriots).

    Instead, the post is just whining that Biden is not a Republican.

    Look, I’m sorry you “good Republicans” coddled the crazy and destroyed your party by handing them the reigns of power. Maybe you should fix your party, rather than expecting the Democrats to suddenly become Republicans for you.

    Where is “good Republican” Mitt Romney on protecting our democracy?

    12
  22. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @Kathy:
    I don’t believe this is a valid analogy.
    In the case of WW2 they were rallying the entire country against a common enemy.
    Today nearly half the country IS the enemy. And I do not use that word lightly. I mean, they tried to overthrow the Government and install an un-elected king, right? How do you out-propaganda that? It’s nearly impossible to reason someone out of a cult.
    Watch this…
    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/good-liars-herschel-walker-abortion_n_63636089e4b0ab7c772ef90a
    There is no amount of wittier sophistry that will penetrate this.

    1
  23. Kathy says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    I’m not much good at propaganda, so there’s not much I can say about it. Except the generalities: make the point quick and simple, and easy to remember and repeat. Wit would be wasted on the witless.

    An obvious problem is whom you aim the propaganda at. Ads to show how horrible the Republiqans are might just tickle the trumpian base pink. That’s a big problem.

    1
  24. Mimai says:

    An acquaintance of mine recently presented a laundry list of all the “terrible” things the Democratic Party has done in recent years. I suspect this person did not create the list de novo.

    Is there a similar catalogue for the Republican Party that the OTB crowd can point me to? Thanks (kinda) in advance.

  25. steve says:

    “The Democrats have been absolutely terrible at trying to distinguish crime from Law and Order, but that’s nothing new.”

    “Here’s the thing, Steve. It’s far easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

    I live in PA where the elections are close. We are flooded with ads. We get long phone calls (we call screen via answering machine) exhorting us to donate/vote/whatever. Democrats are hardly even trying. The candidate will have an occasional ad saying they have tried to fight crime, but nothing to really affirmatively say what they are going to do address crime. My perception, right or wrong, is that this is at least partially based upon not wanting to offend the progressives who actually still want to defund.

    Steve

    1
  26. Andy says:

    Look at everyone dumping on poor steve for stating the obvious. This isn’t rocket science.

    If you want to win and get political power, you need votes, and the “base” isn’t going to give either side enough votes to win. So you have to compete for marginal votes that don’t fit neatly in your preferred ideological box. And that means you have to – at a minimum – have an answer to address the things they actually care about, which are likely different from what you care about.

    And in any election, you have to deal with the reality that the other side will try to paint everything your side does in as negative a light as possible. It’s perfectly normal to take the most extreme parts of the opposing coalition and try to make that appear to be the mainstream. Politics has always had this dynamic. If you think only Republicans do this, then you aren’t paying attention or live in an ideological bubble. Whining about such tactics, throwing up your hands, and lamenting that nothing can be done is, to put it charitably, counterproductive.

    If you want to win, you have to convince people that aren’t in the tank for your side to vote for your candidates. So, the question is, how do you get the marginal votes you need to actually win while keeping most of your base engaged? Complaining about Republican tactics doesn’t do that. Telling people that they are stupid or fools or “good Germans” because they can’t see the obvious wisdom of your ideology doesn’t do that. Repeating the “democracy is at stake” catechism doesn’t work, no matter how strongly you believe it.

    You have to find out what matters to them, what is salient, and appeal to whatever that is using language and arguments they understand in a non-condescending way. You have to have coherent counters to your opponent’s messaging. Counters that get high-fives and cheers from those in your tribe are probably not going to be effective, nor is generalized whining about the other side’s lies. That may mean you have to bend a little when it comes to ideological purity to effectively make the sale. That may mean you have to throw parts of your coalition partly under the bus when appealing to these voters. And selling is the right comparison here – you’re trying to sell your side and get the marginal voter’s support.

    1
  27. Modulo Myself says:

    @steve:

    The entire debate about crime has come down to the police and prosecutors being the victims of progressives. I have no idea if mainstream Democrats are terrified of progressives, but they are terrified of hurting the feelings of cops and prosecutors.

    This incidentally is why defund became popular and why bail reform went through. Because when a teenager spends 2 years at Rikers and then is released without being charged and then takes his life and nobody but the left cares you have a problem. The criminal justice is verging on being unreformable and that’s not the left’s fault. It’s the fault of the cops and prosecutors who are 99.99% incapable of taking responsibility or accepting criticism or anything. These are people who have work slowdowns when a DA is elected they don’t like. And you can’t even get these idiots to stop talking about fentanyl candy and cops thinking a panic attack is an overdose.

    3
  28. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @Andy:

    You have to have coherent counters to your opponent’s messaging.

    You are so f’ing tedious.
    There is no coherent answer to incoherence.
    You cannot reason with cult-members.
    Logic and facts are of no use when it comes to people who come to their opinions by emotion.
    Watch this, and tell me how you get thru this wall.
    https://twitter.com/TheGoodLiars/status/1587922818226081792

    4
  29. Modulo Myself says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    By Andy’s standard, the GOP should have been convinced by now that there’s no voting fraud going on. Oddly though, that hasn’t worked.

    5
  30. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    The frustration I have with this article (and the one on Klein’s podcast) is that however much you want to talk messaging or how evenly the country is split, the truth is one party bases their positions primarily on facts. It’s hardly perfect, but they are in touch with reality. The other side simply no longer is. It’s virtually all based on fear and demonstrably false accusations. John Oliver just did a segment on cash bail that shows how insanely, factually WRONG the political ads this election cycle targeting Democrats as trying to let criminals flood the community with revolving door jails actually are. And as far as I can tell it doesn’t really matter. Propaganda, sadly, WORKS.

    I’ve said it 100 times: Free speech is critical to a functioning Republic. Propaganda is absolutely lethal to it. Propaganda is winning. I don’t know how to fix it, and I don’t know how the country can survive when we effectively live in two different “factual” realities which are completely incompatible.

    2
  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl: I’ll repeat what I said a couple of days ago. Josh Barro [checks notes] identifies as a neo-liberal (IOW a conservative who doesn’t particularly like the label). I take it as a given that a conservative is going to be critical of Biden.

    1
  32. Andy says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    and

    @Modulo Myself:

    I’m talking about convincing marginal voters to vote for your candidates, not converting MAGA election-denying cultists to be Democrats.

    1
  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @steve: “While the GOP has mostly aimed at pleasing its base, theirs is much larger.” I’m not sure who “theirs” is in this sentence, but I will note that the GOP base is much easier to please because their goals are much more compact:
    1) They don’t want their taxes to go up when they get rich (and this IS the link, btw)
    2) The don’t want [racial epithet, deleted] to take their place–anywhere
    3) They want to keep [ethnic epithet, deleted] out and not able to steal our jobs

    I don’t see how the Democrats can hold their base reaching out to the “more moderate elements” in the cohort above, but if that’s the job, “go in peace and serve the Lord.”

  34. gVOR08 says:

    Over at LGM Scott Lemieux addresses this helpful advice to liberals from conservative Josh Barro, who claims to have our best interests at heart. He notes the silliness of the advice that parties in opposition to the GOPs should form a coalition. This is America, Barro, we only have the two parties (for which see Dr. T) and the Dem Party IS the coalition against the fascists.

    The best part, however, is that Barro’s examples of successful United Front efforts to stop authoritarian governments that the Democratic Party should emulate are…Hungary and Israel! That’s your example of more successful political movements than the Democratic Party? The Hungarian united front that did three points worse than Herbert Hoover in 1932? That’s the path to victory? I am losing my goddamned mind here.

    Lemieux fisks Barro in some detail. Worth a read. I looked it up so you don’t have to, the Peter Marki-Zay in Lemieux’s title is the coalition candidate who lost to Orban earlier this year.

    1
  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    Democrats need to start buying guns.

    That is all.

    2
  36. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @Andy:
    There is no “marginal voter.”
    If you still think that 1/6 was a righteous action then there is no reaching you.
    If you are disgusted by 1/6 but, golly, gas prices sure are high so I’m still going to vote for the people that tried to install a King, then there is no reaching you.
    This isn’t the 1990’s when Clinton could triangulate his way though anything.
    You either want to live in a Democracy or you don’t. You believe in the truth and facts or you don’t. There is right and there is wrong…there is no grey area.
    People like Barro are never going to vote Republican; his entire column is a transparent effort at rationalizing that.

    5
  37. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    If you want to win and get political power, you need votes, and the “base” isn’t going to give either side enough votes to win. So you have to compete for marginal votes that don’t fit neatly in your preferred ideological box.

    Why do you assume that watering down an already lukewarm Democratic Party is going to gain more voters on the mushy middle than it is going to lose in the base?

    And that means you have to – at a minimum – have an answer to address the things they actually care about, which are likely different from what you care about.

    If they don’t care about equal rights, democracy, health care, global warming and/or progressive taxation, I don’t know that they are really reachable.

    I will applaud the Biden Administration’s hard work on stopping people from giving out rainbow fentanyl as Halloween candy this year though. I had heard reports that this was going to be rampant, and this is a drug that can hospitalize a police officer who just comes into marginal contact with it.

    A lot of people on the right were concerned about it, and Biden made sure it didn’t happen. Nationwide, there was none of it. That’s reaching out and addressing the concerns of the voters on the right.

    And somehow Biden is not getting credit for it.

    3
  38. Andy says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    There is no “marginal voter.”

    On the contrary, there have always been marginal voters, and the direction they turn is often decisive when it comes to election outcomes.

    You either want to live in a Democracy or you don’t. You believe in the truth and facts or you don’t. There is right and there is wrong…there is no grey area.

    And I just read this. How does that fit into your Anakin Skywalker with-us-or-against-us absolutist worldview?

    @Gustopher:

    Why do you assume that watering down an already lukewarm Democratic Party is going to gain more voters on the mushy middle than it is going to lose in the base?

    Well, if the choice is really that zero sum – that you can have one or the other but not both, then your party really and truly is fucked. However, I don’t believe that is true, and it certainly hasn’t been true historically.

    If they don’t care about equal rights, democracy, health care, global warming and/or progressive taxation, I don’t know that they are really reachable.

    People can and do care about those things on your list but care about other things more. Read the article I linked above for some examples of the frustrations of Hispanic Democrats. More generally, the Democratic party has a lot of self-identified conservatives, people who think abortion is morally wrong, people who think the border is really a crisis – and other things.

    The bigger point here is that the parties are pretty evenly matched, and neither can afford to take votes for granted, which means you can’t be successful and an ideological puritan.

    1
  39. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Andy:
    When Democracy is gone you’ll pretend you never compromised.

    4
  40. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Nah, from what I see out here in suburbia, my neighbors have enough guns, their locks are sh**, and their scheduled absences are set in stone. It’s already happened to several of them, and the rest have learned nothing from the experience.

    Well, that, and I tend to view taking weapons from amateurs something of a public service. Fortunately (in that respect), I’m a retired public servant.

    2
  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher:

    I will applaud the Biden Administration’s hard work on stopping people from giving out rainbow fentanyl as Halloween candy this year though. I had heard reports that this was going to be rampant, and this is a drug that can hospitalize a police officer who just comes into marginal contact with it.

    A lot of people on the right were concerned about it, and Biden made sure it didn’t happen. Nationwide, there was none of it. That’s reaching out and addressing the concerns of the voters on the right.

    And somehow Biden is not getting credit for it.

    WA! ROTFLMAO! Nailed it!

    2
  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Andy: [checks notes]

    Tim Alberta is an award-winning journalist, best-selling author, and staff writer for The Atlantic magazine. He formerly served as chief political correspondent for POLITICO. In 2019, he published the critically acclaimed book, “American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump” and co-moderated the year’s final Democratic presidential debate aired by PBS Newshour.

    Hailing from Brighton, Michigan, Tim attended Schoolcraft College and later Michigan State University, where his plans to become a baseball writer were changed by a stint covering the legislature in Lansing. He went on to spend more than a decade in Washington, reporting for publications including the Wall Street Journal, The Hotline, National Journal and National Review. Having covered the biggest stories in national politics—the battles over health care and immigration on Capitol Hill; the election and presidency of Donald Trump; the ideological warfare between and within the two parties—Tim was eager for a new challenge.
    https://www.bytimalberta.com/biography [emphasis added]

    Again, when I’m reading conservatives, I expect that they will be critical of Democrats.

    2
  43. Modulo Myself says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Yeah, the article is dumb but Democrats need to figure out how to talk to a class of people like Andy who view the left as puritans when in fact it is a bunch of conservatives whining because they are hearing about abortion (after Roe was overturned) or the existence of AOC or the left. Personally, I have no idea.

  44. Jim Brown 32 says:

    For God’s sake I live in a ruby red county in NW Florida. There IS NO Democrat Counter-messaging here or anywhere else in Florida outside of a metro suburb.

    There are Democrats in these area…no one is energizing them nor is anyone presenting any counterfactuals to the Republicans that just go along with the herd off what their neighbors and coworkers are saying.

    Democrats still don’t get it. WHERE you message is just as important as the message itself. There is no rural messaging arm to counter to constant fear machine