Democrats Prepared for Impending Doom

Party leaders are treating an electoral defeat as inevitable.

Blake Hounshell for the NYT (“‘It’s Time to Head for the Lifeboats’: Democratic Fatalism Intensifies“):

The collective mood of Democratic insiders has darkened appreciably in recent weeks.

Pollsters and prognosticators are forecasting increasingly dire results for their party in the November midterm elections. Inflation, the No. 1 issue on the minds of voters, is accelerating. And despite a booming job market, the president’s average approval rating hasn’t budged since January, when it settled into the low 40s.

“Are you calling to ask me about our impending doom?” one Democratic strategist quipped at the outset of a recent phone call.

“The vibes just feel very off,” said Tré Easton, a progressive consultant.

Others use words like “horrible” and “debacle” to describe a political environment that has gone from bad to worse over the last three months. Many fault the White House for steering President Biden too far to the left as he sought to pass social spending legislation stuffed with progressive priorities. Some see the president as a wounded figure who has failed to establish himself as the unequivocal leader of his fractious party.

“It’s going to be a terrible cycle for Democrats,” said Doug Sosnik, a former political adviser to Bill Clinton. Democrats have only a matter of weeks, he said, to try to alter the contours of a race that will largely be determined by factors beyond their control.

One sign of the alarm rippling through the party: Some Democratic politicians have begun creating distance between themselves and the president. Senate candidates are stampeding to break with the administration’s immigration policies, for instance. Other moves are more subtle, such as those of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who quietly removed the president’s name from news releases about federally funded infrastructure projects.

“What you’re seeing is people feeling like it’s time to head for the lifeboats rather than trying to steer the ship,” said Robert Gibbs, a former White House press secretary who worked under Barack Obama.

A sense of fatalism is setting in among many, with discussions centering increasingly on how to limit the party’s expected losses rather than how to gain new seats. In Arizona, for example, some Democrats are losing confidence that they will be able to flip the State House, a major target for national party strategists this year.

“We have to be cognizant and realistic about where and how we can win,” said Chad Campbell, a former state lawmaker and Democratic consultant in Phoenix. He added that it was more important for Democrats to position themselves for 2024.

“Most of this is baked,” said Dmitri Mehlhorn, the confidant of a number of Democratic megadonors, referring to the historical pattern of the president’s party losing seats in the midterms.

Not everyone is so pessimistic. But for those charged with solving the Democrats’ midterms conundrum, the question, increasingly, is: How many seats can they save? Control of the Senate is deadlocked at 50-50, and Democrats are clinging to a five-seat majority in the House. Few Democratic strategists expect to keep the House, but many remain hopeful about the Senate, where there’s far more room for candidates to burnish their own independent brands.

We have assumed since the 2020 elections were completed with the two Georgia Senate runoffs that gave the Democrats the slimmest possible majority that Republicans would almost certainly retake control in 2022. The President’s party essentially always loses seats in the midterms and there’s not much margin for error.

Obviously, inflation at levels not seen in four decades isn’t helping. Nor is frustration from Democrats that much of their agenda was stymied so what even is the point of being in charge?

Still, I must confess that, even as a political scientist trained to be analytical about these things, I find it baffling that the sheer corruption of the opposition party seems not to be factoring in at all but is simply part of the background noise. The fact that Republicans tried to steal the last election and are working to make it harder for Democrats to vote doesn’t seem to even be part of the equation here.

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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. Sleeping Dog says:

    he fact that Republicans tried to steal the last election and are working to make it harder for Democrats to vote doesn’t seem to even be part of the equation here.

    It’s the Michelle Effect. Dems taking the high road. Neither Biden nor congressional Dems have made R corruption a center piece of their argument as to why Dems should be elected. The best they can do is run against Trump, who isn’t on a ballot anywhere. In 2020 when Trump was on the ballot they lost a ~dozen seats in the House and luckily picked up 2 senate seats due to R incompetence.

    It’s baffling, instead they prattle on about accomplishments and programs, yet as we discussed earlier in the week, they are not being given credit (nor loudly claiming credit) for the American Rescue Plan.

    Then you have the nit wits in the Squad, sniping at the party moderates and establishment and proudly defending the most unpopular progressive programs, all the while, giving ammunition to the R press, from their safe +20-30% Dem districts.

    6
  2. Jen says:

    I find it baffling that the sheer corruption of the opposition party seems not to be factoring in at all but is simply part of the background noise. The fact that Republicans tried to steal the last election and are working to make it harder for Democrats to vote doesn’t seem to even be part of the equation here.

    It’s monumentally depressing. We’re headed to developing world status re: corruption levels in one of the main political parties (if we’re not already there) and people just DNGAF.

    3
  3. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    A large percentage of them don’t see it as corruption but as righting a grievous wrong, or perhaps making things the way they’re supposed to be.

    4
  4. gVOR08 says:

    We’ve had another cycle of GOPs screwing things up: COVID, recession, and foreign policy, and the Dems being elected to clean up. But the GOPs have blocked the cleanup and Ds aren’t going to get enough time to fix things.

    And as in 2016 I blame NYT and the rest of the supposedly liberal MSM. INFLATION, BIDEN FAILING, INFLATION, INFLATION, record low unemployment, INFLATION, INFLATION, and today BIDEN FAILING.

    5
  5. I find it baffling that the sheer corruption of the opposition party seems not to be factoring in at all but is simply part of the background noise.

    I think it is:

    1. Mainly structure. So few seats are actually competitive, coupled with the mid-term patterns linked largely to the way such elections affect turnout, and you get a baseline likely outcome.

    2. The strength of partisanship. Too many people don’t care/have rationalized the Trump adm in and the 1/6 stuff.

    3. Lack of understanding/denial. It is easier to pretend like what happened didn’t happen/wasn’t really all that bad.

    But let me stress #1: we flatly do not have a set of institutions that actually allow for the nation’s views to be taken reasonably into account. Yet, we keep talking and thinking like we do.

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  6. @Sleeping Dog:

    Neither Biden nor congressional Dems have made R corruption a center piece of their argument as to why Dems should be elected.

    We are seeing the corruption of Kevin McCarthy in full display, but for it to stop McCarthy from being re-elected, it needs to matter in his district (which he won in 2020 by something like 25 points. And even if enough GOP voters get disgusted by McCarthy, why would it make them not vote for their guy? (Assuming, even, that the race in question was competitive).

    Then you have the nit wits in the Squad, sniping at the party moderates and establishment and proudly defending the most unpopular progressive programs, all the while, giving ammunition to the R press, from their safe +20-30% Dem districts.

    Maybe. I am not going to argue that they couldn’t be better team players, but by the same token, I see stuff on FNC and in the right-wing press daily that uses run-of-the-mill Dem policy as ammunition. The idea that FNC needs the Squad to spin its propaganda is just wrong. They will take the most moderate member of the Dem caucus and assert that they are socialists.

    9
  7. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: As various talking heads are pointing out, everybody who was paying attention knew a year ago January McCarthy was lying his ass off. Made no difference then, won’t now. It’s a game of narrative and expectation. That Republicans lie like rugs seems to be an accepted part of the game.

    3
  8. Scott F. says:

    Still, I must confess that, even as a political scientist trained to be analytical about these things, I find it baffling that the sheer corruption of the opposition party seems not to be factoring in at all but is simply part of the background noise. The fact that Republicans tried to steal the last election and are working to make it harder for Democrats to vote doesn’t seem to even be part of the equation here.

    I say this will all sincerity, James, but maybe you can help me better understand why that is, since your other post for today is a “ho-hum” reaction to a detailing of the expansiveness of the corruption of the opposition party.

    You’ve seemingly become numb to the depravity, so how do you find yourself there? I spit nails every time I read an article like this. You run in circles with people who will pull the lever for Republicans up and down the ballot. What are they telling you and what could one say to get them to see the light? With expertise as a political scientist, how would you advise us to respond?

    We are witnessing the death of democracy in the US and I’ve never felt so disempowered as a citizen. Is there nothing we can do?

    8
  9. Chip Daniels says:

    Its true that the Republican party is a fetid mess of authoritarianism and corruption and incompetence.

    But its equally true that just under half of the American electorate voted for this in 2020, and in a majority of the states, preferred it by a clear majority.

    We liberals keep waiting for the scales to fall from their eyes, that moment when they see the Republican Party for what it is, but I’m convinced that they do, and they like it, very much.

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  10. Scott F. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But let me stress #1: we flatly do not have a set of institutions that actually allow for the nation’s views to be taken reasonably into account. Yet, we keep talking and thinking like we do.

    I wondering how we might act differently if more people understood our institutions don’t allow the nation’s views to factor in. I’m not so sure that people don’t understand that our institutions are failing us.

    But, what is the enlightened citizen to do with the knowledge? I wasn’t able to find any street protests to join in my area today. My sternly worded letters to the editor and the political contributions I’m able to distribute commensurate with my income level are not having the desired effect. Those of use who are fully aware of how poorly our government is structured for the historical moment we find ourselves in can only watch as the body politic dies.

    (Or we come to OTB to lob answerless questions into the void. My apologies to our hosts…)

    3
  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Scott F.:

    But, what is the enlightened citizen to do with the knowledge?

    How to be Hopeless

    1
  12. Scott says:

    The only campaigning Democrats got to do is go negative. And start now. Forget accomplishments. Start beating Republicans over the head with everything they got and keep going. If they don’t know how to do it, go hire the disaffected Republicans who can.

    3
  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Maybe. I am not going to argue that they couldn’t be better team players, but by the same token, I see stuff on FNC and in the right-wing press daily that uses run-of-the-mill Dem policy as ammunition. The idea that FNC needs the Squad to spin its propaganda is just wrong. They will take the most moderate member of the Dem caucus and assert that they are socialists.

    A former Virginia school administrator claims she was “forced out” of her job after a “slip of the tongue” during a racial training exercise. Now, she’s suing the school district.
    []
    During the last training session in June 2021, the lawsuit says Mais accidentally used the term “colored people” instead of “people of color” while making a comment during the presentation. The suit claims Mais immediately apologized for the derogatory term but was verbally attacked by a teaching aide for her poor word choice. Mais was then asked to attend meetings with the school guidance counselor, an equity specialist, and the district’s superintendent and assistant superintendents.

    I don’t notice FNC attacking Social Security or Medicare – they don’t even go after Obamacare anymore. The narrative they’re pushing is the narrative handed to them by progressives, that Democrats are speech and thought police infinitely concerned about the difference between ‘people of color’ and ‘colored people,’ and not even slightly concerned when, for example, an environmental regulation throws people out of work.

    Progressives are also big contributors to the ‘too old’ attacks on Biden and Pelosi.

    Is this nonsense responsible for all the Democrats’ problems? No. But in a battle the weakest element on the front can dictate the outcome. At a time when we should be focusing on saving democracy itself, we’re wondering if we should take Abraham Lincoln’s name off schools and defunding the police and telling Spanish speakers to stop using gendered nouns. Progressives are un-serious serious people in very serious times.

    10
  14. Pat Curley says:

    ” I find it baffling that the sheer corruption of the opposition party seems not to be factoring in at all but is simply part of the background noise.”

    It’s pretty simple. Americans don’t fall in love with the party out of power. Instead they grow to despise the party in power. It happened in 2020 and it’s happening again this year.

    1
  15. Gustopher says:

    I find it baffling that the sheer corruption of the opposition party seems not to be factoring in at all but is simply part of the background noise. The fact that Republicans tried to steal the last election and are working to make it harder for Democrats to vote doesn’t seem to even be part of the equation here.

    A lot of people think all politicians are corrupt and don’t see a difference between the parties in that, because they know they are all the same. It’s stupid nihilism, but it’s very common.

    Trump just confirmed what they know. As does the number of former Illinois governors in prison. And Jared Kushner getting $2B from the Saudis for … something.

    And with a justice department that moves so slowly, if it moves at all, the current administration can’t say “we’re cleaning up Washington.” Not effectively, at any rate.

    And that’s with well-informed nihilists who aren’t getting the “Hunter Biden is the most corrupt individual in history, Clinton Foundation, Anthony Fauci is raking in dough from something nefarious” stuff.

    We see a difference in kind — typical corruption in the Democrats, and something unprecedented and far more dangerous with the Republicans.

    1
  16. @Scott F.:

    I wondering how we might act differently if more people understood our institutions don’t allow the nation’s views to factor in. I’m not so sure that people don’t understand that our institutions are failing us.

    Agreed–and even those who do understand often otherwise ignore that problem–hence my post that this post/comments section inspired: click.

    1
  17. @Michael Reynolds:

    The narrative they’re pushing is the narrative handed to them by progressives,

    Indeed. As I have learned from years of listening to Limbaugh (and other talk radio types) and watching FNC and similar channels–if only the progressives would calm down, right-wing media would be forced to talk more honestly about the issues!

    (And to be clear: it isn’t that I disagree that some of this stuff is stupid and counter-productive, but I am increasingly amazed at the degree to which you only give agency to progressives, who are somehow the bane of all existence. And, note, I do not self-identify as a progressive, so my views on this are not some personal political response).

    8
  18. @Gustopher:

    A lot of people think all politicians are corrupt and don’t see a difference between the parties in that, because they know they are all the same. It’s stupid nihilism, but it’s very common.

    Yup. And if “they all lie” then I might as well vote for my team of liars rather than the other team of liars. This is especially true when voters really only have two teams to choose from.

    2
  19. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I don’t notice FNC attacking Social Security or Medicare – they don’t even go after Obamacare anymore. The narrative they’re pushing is the narrative handed to them by progressives,

    It really would be nice if the squad would stop grooming children. And killing so many people that murders are way up (where does AOC find the time?). And personally causing inflation…

    The progressives have a trivial impact on the prevailing narrative out of the right wing, and maybe if you weren’t so emotionally invested in hating progressives you wouldn’t be so myopic.

    The Republicans don’t go after ObamaCare any more because ObamaCare is old news. Pushed out by a virus that since Democrats opposed Republicans must support. Pushed out by 6 trans kids playing sports. Pushed out by “tyranny”.

    Open foxnews.com — lead story is Hunter Biden, then gas prices, inflation, Disney, and ain’t DeSantis wonderful.

    10
  20. Gustopher says:

    @Gustopher: OANN adds critical race theory, masks, border crisis, election integrity, and “Are progressives to blame for NYC crime spike?”

    The progressives aren’t exciting enough. You might make a claim the CRT outrage is about the progressives, but that is about removing black history and is going after completely mainstream stuff.

    1
  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am increasingly amazed at the degree to which you only give agency to progressives

    If three Dems are about to fight three GOPs, and one of the Dems, rather than limbering up is jerking off in the corner, who should I be annoyed at? In a close battle the side that is unified has a great advantage over the side that is not. Which side would you say is less unified, Democrats or Republicans? There is no room for error, this is a very dangerous time, and we need a unified front organized on rational strategic principles. Republicans act like they’re in a war, we act like we’re in a seminar.

    You know perfectly well, Steven, that I despise Republicans. In fact, at a time when you were still a Republican yourself, I was already calling them a white supremacist party and wondering why people like you could still tolerate them, let alone vote for them. You know perfectly well that I place 90% of the blame on Republicans. What you apparently don’t understand is that I take this shit seriously, and I don’t want to lose, so yeah, any time I see people on my side jerking off instead of preparing for war, I criticize them. We need to think strategically, and in order to even form a strategy let alone carry it out, we need message discipline and unity of purpose.

    6
  22. Jon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am increasingly amazed at the degree to which you only give agency to progressives

    Murc’s Law, but applied more specifically to the progressive’s inside the Democratic Party/coalition.

    It is also interesting how it only works one way: progressives complaining about moderates is self-evidently bad and the cause of electoral defeat; moderates complaining about progressives is only common sense and can have no negative consequences.

    5
  23. Scott F. says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Which side would you say is less unified, Democrats or Republicans?

    Asks the writer who despises Republicans, yet spends all his energy bashing progressives. It is not obvious why Democrats should unify behind Steny Hoyer and not Pramila Jayapal.

    9
  24. Scott says:

    @Michael Reynolds: BTW, I totally agree with Michael. This is not about positions or viewpoints or righteousness. It is about winning elections so you can do all those things. If 90% of your time is fending off attacks, no matter how bogus or unfactual or unfair, then you are losing. Every sentence uttered by Republicans down here in Texas includes “open borders”. Of course, it is not true. But facts aren’t going to win votes. Democrats need to start putting Republicans on the defensive. Start with Rick Scott’s 11 point plan and beat it into the ground that he wants to raise taxes. And meddle with SS and Medicare. Make them defend it. And don’t try to be fair and analytical. You’ll lose.

    5
  25. Scott says:

    @Scott F.: Democrats don’t need to be unified behind anyone. They just have to be unified against the opposition.

    3
  26. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Is that teacher’s aid an official of the DNC, an office holder or candidate, a Dem messaging consultant, even a local D official? If not, how is this a Dem message? Maybe Ds need some Sister Soulja moments, but remember, about a third of voters are down a Q/RW rabbit hole. Ds need to get 2/3 of the rational vote. And we aren’t going to if we alienate Blacks.

    We have activists, they have activists. Some of ours are extreme. A lot of theirs are nuts. Why aren’t disrupting school board meetings, and school sports crotch inspectors, and FFS 1/6 hung around their neck like Defund the Police is around ours? Is it the message or the messaging? MSNBC is no match for FOX. Lib and con psychology are different. And FOX is selling blood and soil nationalism, the easiest sell in politics.

    4
  27. EddieInCA says:

    @gVOR08:

    Why aren’t disrupting school board meetings, and school sports crotch inspectors, and FFS 1/6 hung around their neck like Defund the Police is around ours? Is it the message or the messaging? MSNBC is no match for FOX. Lib and con psychology are different. And FOX is selling blood and soil nationalism, the easiest sell in politics.

    They’re disrupting school board meetings because some progressives school administrators have claimed ON VIDEO that parents don’t have the right to know what’s being taught in their children’s classrooms. Who’s fault is that? Progressives. Youngkin won Virginia on that issue alone.

    School sports crotch inspectors? Sorry. I’m pro-trans, but as a lifelong jock, I find it unsettling that Lia Thomas, who was a top member of the Penn men’s swim team, could transition and two seasons later, be swimming as a woman and win a national title over cis-women. That’s just not a fair event, in my opinion, given my history as a competitive cyclist and triathlete.

    As for 1/6, Dems are doing a crappy job of messaging, but the fact is that more than 50% of Republicans call the 1/6 people “patriots”, not insurrectionists, so who are we trying to convince, and of what?

    Lastly, Defund the Police, was the single biggest self-own in the last 20 years. Without that, Dems would have done much better in 2020. It was stupid. Simply stupid. And Dems will be paying for it for years.

    Lastly, the “rubes” vote, and they watch Fox, which has more viewers most nights than MSNBC and CNN combined. We Dems give Fox way too much ammunition, and we don’t fight hard enough.

    10
  28. EddieInCA says:

    Addendum:

    You’re going to see a huge surprise in 2022 in the Latino vote. The whole LatinX thing is “defund the police” all over again, within one ethnic bloc. The numbers of Latinos switching to the Republicans is scary.

    Remember this post come November.

    8
  29. Jon says:

    @EddieInCA:

    They’re disrupting school board meetings because some progressives school administrators have claimed ON VIDEO that parents don’t have the right to know what’s being taught in their children’s classrooms.

    Republicans started disrupting schools board meetings over mask mandates long before any of that.

    4
  30. Scott F. says:

    @Scott:
    Rick Scott’s 11 point plan is a worthy target, but I don’t see a unified national uprising against a policy paper by Florida’s junior senator.

    As all recent news has indicated, national unification against insurrection isn’t in the cards either.

    Running against something will only work for the GOP. Republican politicians and activists have worked for decades building the fear of the Other and the sense of oppression required to get people to vote solely to own the libs. As Steven notes in his post today, some profound crisis will likely be necessary to jump start leftists and moderates into a existential fighting stance.

    1
  31. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As I have learned from years of listening to Limbaugh (and other talk radio types) and watching FNC and similar channels–if only the progressives would calm down, right-wing media would be forced to talk more honestly about the issues!

    This is the ultimate point. The reality is that the outrage machine would just find a more obscure local politician to elevate as their latest far-left punching bag. When the media and organizing arm of one party is fundamentally not interested in telling the truth, then anything short of full acquiescence to their demands will be enough to make one the enemy. And when someone is the enemy then no lie is too big.

    This focus on the progressive wing of the Democratic party as the real monsters here is, quite frankly, akin to blaming the victims of domestic violence for the abuse. If only they behaved better and really cared about not getting hit then the abuser would stop hitting them. We know how that actually works in reality, where mainstream opposition to anti-gay and anti-trans legislation is enough to get an entire party label as “groomers.”

    Again, in practice, progressives have repeatedly given in on key Biden legislative issues only to have defeat snatched from victory by two *Conservative* Democratic Senators (one of whom doesn’t want to extend benefits because he believes that people on public assistance are fundamentally lazy).

    7
  32. reid says:

    Amen, James. Not only did the GOP try to steal the election, they lie about and politicize everything; they have almost no policies whatsoever, aside from meaningless social war nonsense; and they have a loud, accepted, clownish extremist base. Why in god’s name are they even considered a major political party anymore? It sure seems like they’re coasting on historical habits and press both-siderism. Bizarre and sad.

  33. Scott says:

    @Scott F.:

    Running against something will only work for the GOP.

    Nonsense. Running against the repeal of the ACA brought out a lot of voters. You need to soften up the terrain by negative repetition. Even if it unfair and untrue.

    2
  34. reid says:

    @Scott F.: Yes. It drives me crazy that Bill Maher, for example, seems to spend half his show bashing “those crazy liberals”, even though he too despises Republicans.

    2
  35. EddieInCA says:

    @reid:

    Yet they control most of the state legislatures and governorships.

    How do they do this if. they’re so out of touch?

    1
  36. reid says:

    @EddieInCA: As I mentioned, part of it (I think) is coasting on their history. At one time, the GOP was a less radical party. That’s why my elderly mother still calls herself a Republican. And she, like a lot of people, doesn’t pay much attention to the news. Related, when she does watch the news, I’m afraid it’s often Fox, and we know that they’re a propaganda arm of the GOP. It’s not hard to understand how they still thrive, sad as it is.

  37. reid says:

    @EddieInCA: And, of course, the good professor has addressed this phenomenon at length here.

    2
  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Absolutely. After all, there were no KKKLAANNNNGGGs voting when the Constitution was written. And the good citizens of the nation were able to keep things mostly straight until a bunch of Marxists (who hated our country, btw) took over the Supreme Court during the Roosevelt and ensuing administrations. It’s taken several generations to set things right, and this is no time to let up.

    1
  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Meh… The carping about The Squad that goes on here simply shows that most of the commentariat aren’t really as liberal as they’d like to imagine themselves to be. Maybe not even a liberal as me, and I don’t claim to be liberal to any degree at all.

    6
  40. Scott F. says:

    @Scott:

    Nonsense. Running against the repeal of the ACA brought out a lot of voters. You need to soften up the terrain by negative repetition. Even if it unfair and untrue.

    That’s some fancy sleight of hand you’re demonstrating there. Democrats won by running on the protection of the ACA as a positive message and the message had the benefit of being both a fair and true description of the GOP’s intent – the GOP was quite open about their plans and voters didn’t want to lose what they had.

    OTOH, it takes a lot more pre-work to get independents to see Rick Scott as the face of Republicanism. If voters aren’t afraid of Trumpism, how are we going to get them to vote against Scottism?

    1
  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “Indeed. As I have learned from years of listening to Limbaugh (and other talk radio types) and watching FNC and similar channels–if only the progressives would calm down, right-wing media would be forced to talk more honestly about the issues!”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! 😀 😀 😛 😛 😀 😀

    Thanks! I needed a laugh! Laughing oxygenates the blood and helps with congestion from COPD.

    4
  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Thanks for another laugh. And remember, it’s not mere inflation; it’s runaway inflation that’s effectively cut Herr Doktor and Frau Doktor’s Joyner’s income–by FIVE WHOLE PERCENT! Clearly, we’re on the frontiers of becoming Zimbabwe if we don’t change.

    1
  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott: Running against repeal of the ACA DID bring out a lot of voters–opposed to the in-power party in a mid-term election. Looks more like the mid-term election pattern than proof that negative campaigning by Dems works (which I have no opinion on despite this comment).

  44. @Michael Reynolds:

    If three Dems are about to fight three GOPs, and one of the Dems, rather than limbering up is jerking off in the corner, who should I be annoyed at?

    None of that addresses the issue of whether the problem we are facing is a lib vb. progressive factional war that can be fixed by unified messaging or if, in fact, the problem is far different than that.

    Regardless, my central point remains that your messaging solutions are not are simple as you claim that they are.

    You know perfectly well, Steven, that I despise Republicans. In fact, at a time when you were still a Republican yourself, I was already calling them a white supremacist party and wondering why people like you could still tolerate them, let alone vote for them.

    One of the things I find irksome about your critiques in this area is that while you get really upset at the sanctimony of the progressives, you have zero trouble approaching your position from your own sanctimonious perch.

    If you think that the main problem with Dems is that the progressives keep being unnecessarily mean to the moderates, why is your tact to excoriate people for not thinking as you do? After all, you have called people on this site “Good Germans” (you once told me something similar).

    Do you not see this?

    6
  45. @EddieInCA: There is also the fact, that I wrote about extensively at the time, that the pattern in VA is for the president’s party to lose the VA governorship with one exception (IIRC).

    While I think one can look into a number of issues and analyze the degree to which specific messages really mattered, the reality is that we pile on “reasons” for a loss without often knowing that, for sure, the messaging made the difference we thought it did.

    3
  46. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    While I think one can look into a number of issues and analyze the degree to which specific messages really mattered, the reality is that we pile on “reasons” for a loss without often knowing that, for sure, the messaging made the difference we thought it did.

    I have to wonder the degree folks concentrate on messaging is tied to an American cultural preference for rational choice analysis. In other words, if the right messaging was deployed, people would then make the rational choice to vote for the better candidate (or party).

    This ties to the amount of cultural value we give to compelling oration and its ability to sway the crowd*. And while folks like Reagan and Obama have been singled out for the persuasiveness of their rhetoric (though at least in Obama’s case, it doesn’t really seemed to have moved the country leftward in any substantive way), we should note that our political history is filled with a number of well-regarded communicators who still failed to win (William Jennings Bryant immediately comes to mind).

    The discomfort of talking about structural issues is that those rob us of free will in determining these outcomes.

    * – I also wonder the degree to which the emphasis on messaging is also tied to the fact that many people who comment here are either in the entertainment business (MR, Eddie, WR, at a minimum) or write for a living or as a hobby.

    3
  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    I also wonder the degree to which the emphasis on messaging…

    Don’t forget that there is also a stronger understanding of rhetorical theory as a mode of interpretation emerging in writing, writers, and study of the aforementioned. Alas, concentrating on message as a writer (or political candidate/party) may not always achieve the results the writer or candidate/party seeks. The audience still shapes and contextualizes the message to a significant degree.

    2
  48. Fog says:

    Did I miss something? Is the election tomorrow? Next week? Or is it in November? The reason I ask is that you folks seem to talk like the reality of today will not fundamentally change in the months ahead. And that’s crazy. Do you really think this ride has no more twists and turns left? We have no bloody idea what’s in store for us this summer and fall.
    Plus, I seem to remember the Big Dog saying when it comes to elections, the real contest begins 6 weeks out. If he’s right, this party’s just gettin’ started. If there’s a month to go, and the situation is still much as it is today, I’ll know I was wrong.

    5
  49. Mimai says:

    A lot of commenters hold the opinion that Republicans are a real threat to the very existence of the USA. That if Republicans — in their current form — retake power* it will be the end of democracy in this country.

    This makes me wonder how far people are willing to go to prevent such a thing. Most of the discussion is about messaging, Progressives vs. Moderates, policy (how quaint), etc…all within the typical modes of political engagement.

    But if this election (see * below) really is about the very essence of our democracy, it seems to me that the discussion should be much broader than that. Indeed, should not be about the typical tactics at all, as these have clearly been suboptimal thus far.

    I’m curious how people feel about, um, atypical tactics. Is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed? If so, where is it, what are some examples of tactics that come just shy of the line and examples that go over it?

    Remember, the context, as articulated by many and with frequency, is that this is imminent. And it is critical.

    *It’s unclear (and likely varies a bit more than the general matter of Republicans as a threat per se) whether this refers to the Presidency, House, and/or Senate.

    2
  50. DK says:

    Interesting that this is all being framed as doom for Democrats. Democrats are going to be fine. Biden, Pelosi, Bernie, Warren, Bill, Hillary, Barack, Michelle, Kamala, AOC etc are all going to be fine.

    The story is doom for America. The story is book banning, erasure of history, persecution of gays, vote suppression, erosion of democracy, forced birth, a gutted safety net, middle class tax hikes, tax cuts for billionaires, authoritarian attacks on free speech, crumbling infrasture, Putin strengthened, Ukraine and NATO weakened, teacher shortages, climate disastsr, and no healthcare, childcare, student debt relief, or paid family leave.

    The media is missing the real story, because it’s all about the horserace and intellectually lazy narratives. Americans are falling for it, and that’s why we will — for the foreseeable future — be a mediocre country backsliding into bigotry, fear, feudalism, crime, inequality, and poverty.

    The story is Americans, not Democrats. And we Americans who continue to fall for the right wing hate machine’s shuck and jive, divide and conquer, Twitter brain culture war crap will be getting exactly what we deserve.

    I’m in Prague and Berlin this week. Europe is still looking like a nice place to potentially expatriate, nuclear threat notwithstanding.

    3
  51. DK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Do you not see this?

    Do you not know who you’re talking to?

    A rose is a rose.

    2
  52. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “he narrative they’re pushing is the narrative handed to them by progressives, that Democrats are speech and thought police i”

    Republicans in Florida just passed a law punishing a corporation for voicing opposition to one of its bills, and made it clear they might revoke it before it takes effect if Disney stops criticizing them and starts donating to them again. They also banned a dozen math texts for having black people in them and made it a crime for a gay teacher to mention his or her home life.

    But Democrats are speech police.

    4
  53. DK says:

    @EddieInCA:

    The whole LatinX thing is “defund the police” all over again, within one ethnic bloc.

    As in a fake and irrelevant nonissue that gullible Americans predictably fall for based on right wing propaganda?

    Where is the Democratic Party’s national LatinX language policy legislation they’ve been focused on for the past year? I missed it.

    5
  54. DK says:

    @wr:

    But Democrats are speech police.

    The Republican party of crotchgrabbing Epstein-bestie Trump, teen trafficker Matt Gaetz, youth abuse enabler Gym Jordan, and longest-serving Republican House Speaker turned convicted boy rapist Denny Hastert is now passing actual, enforceable laws banning books, erasing history, and retaliating against workers for their protected 1st Amendment right to oppose slandering of teachers and persecution of gay kids.

    But some random people tweeted “LatinX” so its the evil progressive Democrats in lockstep support of Biden’s agenda who we need to be faulting for everything
    Or something. #TheNarrative #InsideTheBeltway

    6
  55. Gustopher says:

    @EddieInCA:

    The whole LatinX thing is “defund the police” all over again, within one ethnic bloc. The numbers of Latinos switching to the Republicans is scary.

    I find it hard to believe that anger over misguided “LatinX” language is moving more voters than the Republicans shifting from “dirty brown people speaking Spanish with a taco truck on every corner” to “Hey, let’s go bash trans kids!”

    The Latinx communities tend to be more religious than most Americanx people, and hatred of queer folkx crosses a lot of cultural boundaries. White supremacists are also making big inroads in the LatinX communities, as they focus more on blackx and Jewx.

    Some LatinX folkx are jumping at the chance to join the coming pogroms. Ease up a little bit on the discrimination against them, and you discover that they are no better than the rest of us.

    4
  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DK:

    The story is book banning, erasure of history, persecution of gays, vote suppression, erosion of democracy, forced birth, a gutted safety net, middle class tax hikes, tax cuts for billionaires, authoritarian attacks on free speech, crumbling infrasture, Putin strengthened, Ukraine and NATO weakened, teacher shortages, climate disastsr, and no healthcare, childcare, student debt relief, or paid family leave.

    And the tragedy of the story is that life is so good in most of the places where we live that the vast majority of us probably DGAF about most (all?) of the issues you list because we won’t be impacted by them. All of the things you mention for probably nearly all of the people on this commentary thread (and so, most of the rest of the country) are things that happen to other people. Getting people to take stands on behalf of others is a tough row to hoe. Americans do it. Just not often enough.

    1
  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: A lot of those people don’t care if trans kids get bashed (c’mon even Mitt bashed gay kids in his just joshin’ don’t really mean it days) but DO care about being called LatinX–even if it never happens to them during their entire life.

  58. EddieInCA says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’m Latino. Dominincan. Both parents. My extended family is Latino. My extended-extended family is Latino. Dominican, Puerto Rican, Salvadorean, Cuban, Columbian, Nicaruaguan, Spanish, and many other nationalities.

    You used LatinX three times in one post. I only use it to comment on it, because it’s not taken seriously in most of the Latino community. Or better said, on non-twitter Latino community.

    Anecdotes is not evidence, but the anecdotes from NYC, to Miami, to Los Angeles is that the Latinos, as a bloc, are switching to the GOP in historic numbers. We will know soon enough what the reality is. Polling so far is uneven.

    But if they are switching to the GOP, of which many parts are openly hostile to them, Dems will have to ask themselves why. Progressives won’t like the answers.

    4
  59. DK says:

    @EddieInCA:

    But if they are switching to the GOP, of which many parts are openly hostile to them, Dems will have to ask themselves why. Progressives won’t like the answers.

    Dems don’t have to do any such thing. If some Latinos want to hurt themselves by voting for policies that hurt them based on some stupid “LatinX” foolishness, that’s their red wagon. They can push it or pull it.

    This whole “doom for Democrats” framing makes no sense. It’s not multimillionaire Democratic politicians and wealthy, liberal blue states and cities most at risk here. Again: they are largely going to be okay. Democrats should stand up for what’s right, push good policy, and stop with the self-flagellation. If the deplorables want to punish themselves based on nonsense, that’s sad but oh well. It’s not California, New York, and Illinois that’s going to suffer most under Trumpism.

    Sometimes people have to learn the hard way.

    2
  60. Matt Bernius says:

    @EddieInCA:
    I definitely think that we are seeing the shift you are talking about. I am not sure what the best explanation is. I want to do some additional research before I propose any ideas.

    I do think the fact that the most rapid growth amoung Evangelicals is Hispanics/Latinos–https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2021/07/latinos-will-determine-future-american-evangelicalism/619551/

    The fact that there is also shift going on in terms of political alliances feels associated with this.

    I think the other issue that needs to be named is that we are also hitting the differences between ethnicity and race. Thinking about Hispanic or Latino as a race fails on lots of levels. Which doesn’t work well in our current way of thinking about demographics.

    1
  61. DK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    And the tragedy of the story is that life is so good in most of the places where we live that the vast majority of us probably DGAF about most (all?) of the issues you list because we won’t be impacted by them.

    My observation living in California is that liberals living the good life in West Hollywood, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Palo Alto, Marin etc really do care. They’re infuriated.

    But we’re reaching a point where it’s time to let the dead bury their own dead. Abortion rights are going to be protected in California. Black history and black books are not going to be erased in California. Disneyland is not going to be targeted in California.

    Meanwhile, we have a major homelessness problem, partially because some folks would rather be unhoused here than housed in places like Mississippi. We need to focus on proactive, positive solutions for that cut the doom, gloom, and negativity. Leave that the Rethuglikkklans.

  62. Gustopher says:

    @EddieInCA:

    You used LatinX three times in one post.

    I also used Americanx, Blackx, etc.

    LatinX is dumb. And Latinos are moving more towards the Republicans. I think you are creating a causal relationship that isn’t there, and the actual reason is far more serious and simpler than a dumb word.

    “Hola! We’re going to pick on blacks, Jews and queers, wanna come with?”
    “Si”

    White people don’t have a monopoly on bigotry. Or religious conservatism. Or whiteness (the definition will expand to keep a majority white country)

    Culturally, Latinos should be closer to the traditional Republican Party than they have been, based on their religion numbers. The Republicans worked hard to drive them away, far more effectively than the Democrats ever did anything to attract them. With the focus shifting to “groomers” some Latinos who previously felt directly targeted are going to feel more comfortable siding with Republicans.

    Democrats offer Latinos platitudes, brief memorized passages in Spanish, and fail at a lot of the economic issues that might help the working class (unions have been in long decline, but are picking up in lily white Starbucks lately) and help mobility into the middle class. A lot of Latinos are stuck, just like a lot of other Americans, but the newer immigrant Latinos are much more likely to be working class.

    We’ve never had a good message for Latinos. We’ve just been “not those Republicans,” “less bigoted,” and “less worse.” LatinX has basically nothing to do with it.

    2
  63. EddieInCA says:

    @DK:

    My observation living in California is that liberals living the good life in West Hollywood, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Palo Alto, Marin etc really do care. They’re infuriated.

    100%

    But they also feel helpless, because it makes no sense to them.

    1
  64. Gustopher says:

    I am reminded of Matt Yglesias’s comment that you will know when Democrats are listening to LatinX people because they will stop calling them LatinX.

    I’m not going to defend LatinX — it’s dumb — but it’s a symptom rather than the problem. If we were to get people to stop using it, it would change nothing.

    Now, if we could start telling people that young Latinos are LatinZ and LatinY, and only the GenX Latinos are LatinX… also no difference, but it could be fun.

    2
  65. Modulo Myself says:

    @Gustopher:

    Aside from a few annoying white do-gooders who mean absolutely no harm the only people I’ve heard use Latinx are young, queer Hispanics, and I suspect that this explains 95% of the problem. The people angry about Latinx are angry because their values are being challenged by their own people. And the challenges are pretty legit. It’s exactly the same as Rod Dreher spending the last decade screaming about the West and gay people and liberal decadence while his own marriage is collapsing.

    3
  66. DK says:

    @Gustopher:

    We’ve never had a good message for Latinos.

    Still a better message than Republicans. Nobody has a good reason to vote Republican right now, as far as I’m concerned.

    Count me in with those who are a little tired of this notion only Democrats have agency here. “Democrats need to ask themselves why Latinos are increasingly voting Republican.”

    No, Latinos ask *themselves* and police themselves on why some of them are increasingly willing to vote for authoritarian right wing bigots running on banning books, erasing history, forced birth, slandering teachers, and destroying democracy. So do whites “parents” and everybody else voting GQP.

    Blacks and gays have put (and are putting) up with all sorts of nonsense, hatred, persecution from America. All sorts of disappointments from Democrats. And yet we still manage to vote against fascism at a supermajority clip. So spare me the phony excuses and rationalizations to justify the unjustifiable. If us blacks and queers can put aside the bs to unite against the GQP threat, so can everybody else.

    Don’t like the term LatinX. With all going on in the world, *that’s* the big complaint? *That’s* the excuse to enable Putinism, Trumpism, and the destruction of democracy? Really? Sorry but f— off. At least young people disappointed about student debt cancellation and climate inaction are actually suffering material economic and environmental damage. These folks are mad about a word used by random nobodies? Chile please.

    4
  67. Ken_L says:

    Democrats seem constitutionally incapable of mounting sustained attacks on Trump Republicans. I don’t understand why. For example, documents recently came to light in which the Kushner boy bragged about doing a deal with OPEC in 2020 that resulted in the biggest oil production reduction in history. Why are Democrats not belting Republicans around the ears with this every day, blaming it (correctly) for high gas prices instead of lamely pretending they are Putin’s fault?

    To take another example, Senate Republicans are delaying bills because they want Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports reduced. You’d only know it if you read deep into the daily news. And Rick Scott’s manifesto, instead of being cited every day as the Trump Republicans’ true agenda if they get the majority back, is barely getting a mention.

    Most stunning, of course, is that Trump Republicans can still be getting lots of media coverage by regurgitating bullshit about Hunter Biden from 2020, but Democrats haven’t even tried to highlight the scandal of Kushner and Mnuchen using their government positions to set up multi-billion dollar deals with Saudi Arabia.

    Like I say, I don’t pretend to understand why they are so inept at basic politics. But I can’t wait for the January 6 committee public hearings, where Democrats will no doubt give Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger every opportunity to demonstrate that there are still lots of good Republicans.

    2
  68. @Fog: It is certainly true that it ain’t over until it is over. But, it is also true that the limited number of competitive House seats and the Senate map this go ’round plus the rather stubborn historical pattern associated with mid-terms (plus inflation/gas prices) equals a high likelihood that the Dems lose both chambers in November.

  69. @EddieInCA:

    Anecdotes is not evidence, but the anecdotes from NYC, to Miami, to Los Angeles is that the Latinos, as a bloc, are switching to the GOP in historic numbers. We will know soon enough what the reality is. Polling so far is uneven.

    But if they are switching to the GOP, of which many parts are openly hostile to them, Dems will have to ask themselves why. Progressives won’t like the answers.

    Matt probably has part of the reason: the shift to Evangelicalism for many of those folks (and, probably also, the fact that conservative Catholics are increasingly shifting to the GOP).

    It is also true that the GOP is increasingly doing better with the voters with less than a college degree.

    In other words, these shifts are likely far less about things like “latinx” than they are about broader trends, especially in a rigid two-party system.

    And yes, some of that is very much about policy and especially messaging, but not in the ways we tend to find people talking about it.

    2
  70. Modulo Myself says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Matt probably has part of the reason: the shift to Evangelicalism for many of those folks (and, probably also, the fact that conservative Catholics are increasingly shifting to the GOP.

    And none of this shift would be reflected in LA or NYC, which makes sense because there’s no viable GOP presence in either of these places.

    I think there’s a fantasy here about a change and teaching the left lesson (like Nixon did) that will just not happen. I mean, the GOP could maybe get a majority in 2022 or 2024. 50.00001% will be treated like the landslides of landslides because the media is desperate for the same narrative. But it’s not going to stick.

    3
  71. Paul L says:

    The Democrats would increase their majorities in Congress if they campaigned on their expert approved highly popular issues of the January 6 insurrection, teaching CRT in public schools, getting rid of due process for sex crimes and full Gun registration and confiscation.
    They should fight Police transparency and accountability.

  72. DK says:

    @Paul L: We get it: you like right wing fascism, hate, and tax cuts for billionaires. You don’t need to make up a bunch of dumb excuses for why you’re going to vote for a failed party of right wing bigots who will do nothing to improve your life.