Well, the Democrats lost another two special elections last night, making them 0-4 in the contests to fill seats left vacant by Trump administration cabinet appointees. Liberal pundits on cable last night, and in the NY Times today, were spinning it like good news, the argument being that the races in these thoroughly red districts had been surprisingly close. Seats that Republicans usually win by 20 points were won by only 4 or 5 points, so that’s progress, we’re gaining ground, take heart, progressives!
I’m trying hard to see it that way, but if I was a Republican, I might well be thinking just the opposite: this proves that we simply cannot lose, no matter what we do.
Think of it. Their party has a deeply unpopular President, whose support is dropping even within their knuckle-headed base. Various scandals to do with obstruction of justice, collusion with Russians, and soon, I’m betting, money laundering, are starting to eat Trump alive. In Congress, the Republican House passed a version of a health care bill that was reviled in all quarters, enjoying only 17% support – and probably, those in the 17% just haven’t been paying attention. Now the Senate is reworking it in secret and planning to ram it through without meaningful debate, a profoundly undemocratic process that should come as no surprise from the hideous Mitch McConnell, the man who defied the Constitution and prevented Obama from filling a seat on the Supreme Court. The rest of the Republican agenda is stalled, and if they ever do get around to tax reform, and people realize that the only breaks will be for the very wealthy, just as with health care reform (which is really just a tax break for plutocrats in disguise), that will be wildly unpopular too.
In Montana, their candidate committed a criminal assault on a reporter, screaming like a lunatic, and he won. In the Georgia 6th, where John Ossoff’s loss was such a disappointment, the winning Republican actually stood at a podium during a televised debate, and rebuked the Democrat for arguing that anyone who worked 40 hours a week should at least be able to live on the earnings. “That is the difference between liberals and conservatives”, she said, adding, with apparent pride, “I do not believe in a livable wage”.
That’s right. That is the difference between a centrist like Ossoff and a member of the GOP, which fights only for the rich. So why is anybody voting Republican? Their message is noxious, their policies vile, their methods reprehensible, their racism patent, their contempt for the poor and disadvantaged plain for all to see – the budget Trump floated a while back wanted to remove funding for Meals on Wheels, for the love of God – and still, they win. In Ossoff’s case, this was despite a flood of funding that made the race for his district the most expensive in the history of the House of Representatives.
We keep waiting for the Republican base to wake up, to realize that everything their beloved crew of old white men wants to achieve will do them grievous harm, directly and rapidly, but they aren’t going to. The jobs revival Trump promised won’t happen, and they’ll still vote GOP. The proposed border wall that had them worked up into a lather won’t be built, and they’ll still vote GOP. Their health care will be taken away. All manner of vital social assistance will be slashed. Current investigations will almost certainly reveal a slew of impeachable offences on Trump’s part, and Pence’s too, but the Republican Congress won’t impeach, and the base won’t care, and they’ll still vote GOP.
I’d love to believe the Democrats could take back the House in 2018, but between the entrenched support of Republican voters, the crippling gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics that have become the GOP signature, and the general apathy that Democratic voters always seem to evidence in midterms, failing to get out and vote, I don’t hold out much hope. Sure, we can all revel in Trump’s dismal approval rating, hovering around 36-37%, and hope that will be a drag on Republicans in the mid-terms, but I’m actually completely disheartened by Trump’s poll numbers. How anyone voted for him after seeing his campaign was mystifying enough. How he can maintain an approval rating of almost 4 in 10 Americans, despite being manifestly and repeatedly the dumbest, most ignorant, most incompetent, and most dangerous President in history – all the prior candidates for the bottom slot were able to boast only one or two of those traits – leaves me slack-jawed and inconsolable. That anyone can even look at Mitch McConnell and not have an overwhelming urge to see him hit by lightning as he stands there, lies pouring out of his bland, pudgy, lizardly face, makes me feel dead inside.
The Republican base is never going to come to its senses. Not so long as there are white people. Get used to it.