As we get closer to the midterms, we will hear more about the issues that Democrats should run on if they want to win. Should they bash Trump? Should they talk about impeachment? Should they try to appeal to Trump voters?
Some political observers say that Democratic candidates should not mention impeachment, nor go after Trump, but instead stay on the issues that matter most. By attacking Trump, they say, Trump supporters will get their feelings hurt and go to the polls to defend their leader.
Others say that in order to mobilize the Democratic base, many of whom have spent the last eighteen months in horrified anxiety, candidates should go after a historically unpopular president and call out his many flaws and scandals. We don’t need Trump supporters to switch sides, they say, as long as we get our already-motivated side to turn out in large numbers.
One thing that stands out in the presidential election of 2016 was the fact that Trump didn’t just win because his based turned out, but more importantly because the GOP (with help from Russia) was able to depress Democratic voter turnout. Some of this was accomplished by discriminatory voter ID laws enacted explicitly to stop non-existent voter fraud while actually lowering minority participation. But some of this was accomplished by flooding social media with bogus memes (which are simple, easily digestible visual ads or quotes) accusing Clinton of horrible crimes or bad health or a breaking “scandal” that amounted to nothing more than a National Enquirer hallucination. These memes were promulgated by the millions from right-wing hatemongers and Russian bots.
So one aspect of a successful midterm strategy must be to boost Democratic turnout while also depressing Republican turnout. A political message that boosts both sides is probably not a good idea. So here is a distinction worth making:
Don’t attack or mock Trump’s persona or style.
Do attack Trump’s policy betrayals, broken promises and corruption.
Running against Trump is only part of the challenge, but we also need to let voters know what we stand for and what we support: justice, equality, opportunity, fairness, the rule of law.
Which brings us to impeachment. It’s fine for activists to talk about it and urge their reps to consider it but it’s probably a losing issue for the midterm elections. Have you met anyone who won’t vote for the Democratic nominee unless they advocate impeachment? Not likely. A candidate who spends any time advocating impeachment will not increase the turnout of the base, but may increase the turnout of the opposition.
An interesting article about by professor of political science Gerard Alexander in the NY Times goes into depth about how we should campaign. Here is an excerpt:
Liberals are trapped in a self-reinforcing cycle. When they use their positions in American culture to lecture, judge and disdain, they push more people into an opposing coalition that liberals are increasingly prone to think of as deplorable. That only validates their own worst prejudices about the other America.
Here is a link to the full article:
We need to be thoughtful and deliberate as we choose a nominee who can replace John Faso and start the process of policing a corrupt president. Keep resisting…