Opinion | Can Democrats knock Republicans out of their two-sided midterm strategy?

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Republicans are running two very different campaigns for the November mid-term. So far, so good.

To their base, they promote an endless culture war over race, education, and LGBTQ issues.

But to appeal to independent and more moderate conservatives, Republicans offer a completely conventional “Hate enough?” argument. Voters dissatisfied with President Biden’s leadership, inflation, and the persistence of covid-19, they say, should communicate their dissatisfaction by ending democratic control of the House and Senate.

Above both strategies lurks former President Donald Trump, who causes no end to the moral and psychological complexity of Republican politicians. See: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (California) shamelessly lies about what he said then about Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 attack. Republicans want it both ways on Trump, hoping his passionate supporters show up in droves while praying that suburban swing voters don’t think about him at all.

Voting for congressional contests is closer than conventional wisdom suggests about the impending democratic catastrophe. Some even give Democrats a slight lead in generic surveys for house races. A poll by the Washington Post / ABC News, published Sunday, found Democrats with 46 percent among registered voters, Republicans with 45. But Republicans’ two-step and enthusiasm at their base gives the GOP confidence in the fall.

Democrats, who are Democrats, wring their hands out of fear. They often blame each other for the party’s problems – the left goes after the center, the center attacks the left, and the Congress and White House wings sometimes seem to speak different languages.

But there are signs that Democrats have jointly begun to identify the first task ahead of them: to provoke the sharp contradiction inherent in the GOP’s strategy and to force the Republican Party as a whole to own the evil of its highest votes.

If the Democrats once hoped they could run to deliver tangible benefits to middle-class and low-income voters, they now know they can not do without the cultural struggles, especially after their failure to pass large parts of Biden’s ambitious program.

Although they are saving some of the president’s climate and social spending this spring, Democrats are realizing they can not win on performance alone. They must force voters to confront what a vote for Republicans can lead to.

“I think we’re making a mistake if we do not go directly to the Republicans on their occupation of these very narrow, broadly unpopular cultural struggles,” Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Told me in an interview. “It’s just not true that it is popular to choose gay children. It evokes a subsection of the Republican base. “

Murphy has been at the forefront of pushing Democrats toward a more aggressive strategy. His approach was exhibited in a broadly divided tweet last weekend: “Republicans are fighting Disney to force them to discriminate against gay children. Democrats are fighting drug companies to force them to lower insulin prices for sick children. Drive on it. “

The point, he told me, is to “evoke their bigotry and their obsession with these wedge social issues and put it in contrast… with our decision to spend our time working on issues that matter to a much broader cross-section of Americans. . “

“Elections are always an election,” Murphy added, “and we need to spend a lot more time explaining to people how radical this party has become.”

“You don’t have to talk about Donald Trump,” he said. “It is a broader problem within the party. And I think that makes a lot of swinging voters uncomfortable. But they will not be unpleasant if you do not point out how evil and hateful and vicious many Republicans have become. ”

While Biden is known for promoting bipartisan conclusion, he has made it clear that he is also ready to make Republican radicalism an element of midterm campaigns.

“This is not your father’s Republican party,” Biden said April 22 in Seattle. “This is the MAGA party now.” Many in the GOP, “who know better,” he added, “are afraid to act properly because they know they will be primary.”

Biden also signaled his solidarity with Democrats pushing back against the GOP’s hate campaigns with a surprise phone call to Mallory McMorrow, a Democratic state senator from Michigan.

McMorrow’s passionate protest against a Republican state senator who – falsely and shamefully – accused her of “caring for and sexualizing childrenWent viral, a sign of how hungry democratic privates are after going on the offensive against what they see as increasingly naked prejudices.

Speaking as a “white, Christian, married, suburban mother,” McMorrow condemned the attack as “hollow” and “hateful,” declaring, “I want every child in this state to feel seen, heard, and supported, not marginalized. and targeted because they are not equal, white and Christian. ”

Yes, 2022 will be a challenging year for Democrats. But playing offensively is a better political effort than playing defense. And to bet that the decent decency of moderate voters will inspire a setback from intolerance and culture war obsessions is a fine place to start.

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