The furious desire of the Republican Party to transform the United States into Gilead gives Democrats a perfect opportunity to turn the tables on the next midterm electionsbut only if they go all out and commit to fighting the culture war.
Earlier this week, passionate opponents of Roe vs. Wade anxiously awaited conservative Kansas Voters to allow the Republican-dominated state legislature to potentially outlaw abortion.
In a surprising plot twist, Kansas voters rejected the hateful amendment by a margin of nearly 20 points.
Surely, there can only be one explanation: Latte-loving vegan liberals, who eat avocado toast and switch pronouns as often as their hybrid vehicles, emerged and voted en masse from their biodegradable plastic bubbles. No. Participation was huge across the board, even in solidly red rural and conservative areas. It seems that most Americans in the 21st century recognize women as human beings who deserve autonomy over their bodies, and refuse to be subordinate handmaidens to a radicalized Republican Party that will not rest until it creates a Christian theocracy.
A Monmouth Survey released this week backed it up. The top concern of US voters after economic policy (24 percent) was abortion (17 percent) and gun control (17 percent). After all, the right to privacy is a “kitchen table” issue. There’s something about losing a constitutionally protected 50-year right to people claiming to be “pro-life” that seems infuriating and hypocritical when juxtaposed with videos of school kids doing their best to escape bullets because many Republicans they refuse to support gun control. Even with inflation, a pandemic, misinformation and high gas prices, most Americans still want Democrats to maintain political control.
Those numbers are staggering in light of President Biden’s decision. lousy approval ratings, who are around 30 and the fact that, historically, the president’s political party is defeated in midterm elections. None of this data tracks normal political trends. On the other hand, nothing has been normal since a corrupt vulgar vulgar was narrowly elected president in 2016. Now, we are dealing with an increasingly hostile Republican Party that believe the big lie, loves assault weapons more than our children, reject scienceY is willing to potentially ban contraceptives and end same-sex marriage. It appears that the modern Republican Party, backed by right-wing hackers dressed in black, will not rest until it aggressively takes away our freedoms and suffocates this country since 1953.
The question remains whether Democrats will respond to the changing landscape or play it safe and refuse to engage in hot cultural issues for fear of alienating these mythical heartland moderates. Journalist Julio Ricardo Varela, founder of Latino Rebels, remains skeptical. “Even after it was clearly shown that a multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition led to Barack Obama’s historic victory in 2008, it still seems like the 2022 Democrats have completely forgotten about those years and are stuck back in the mid-90s, fearing that being ‘ethnic’ will upset white voters,” he told me.
Being shy, defensive and afraid is a losing strategy according to Anat Shenkar-Osario, president of ASO Communications, who leads weekly focus groups where she tests messaging strategies with potential voters. According to her, Democrats must rise up and fight if they want to win over swing and undecided voters and energize their base. “Democrats need to go on the offensive, because people are hungry for a show of leadership,” he told me, citing swing voters who are “attracted to the decision for its own sake, regardless of the content of that decision.”
She said this explains why they find Republicans attractive, even as they constantly describe them to their team as “evil,” “serpents” and a party that “cares about no one but themselves.” Republicans seem to use their power to get things done and carry out their agenda, no matter how popular it is. Shenkar-Osario said the evidence reveals that expressing passion and certainty makes these voters feel like they are listening to a leader and “someone who is picking up the baton and being a shepherd.”
As a result of the dobbs ruling, however, that passionate anger and leadership were lacking in the Democratic Party. Although they were given ample notice that Roe was going to be overturned thanks to a leaked draft opinion, Democratic leaders responded with lame fundraising emails and empty, Pathetic calls to vote in the middle term. It was left to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and a few others, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, to go on talk shows, connect the dots for people, offer solutions, and reflect people’s righteous anger.
Professor Anthea Butler, author of White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in Americashared that disappointment, telling me that Democratic voters are often “disgusted with [the party’s] inaction and ineffective messages”, which is disconnected from the urgency of the moment. However, she believes Democrats have an opportunity right now to finally respond in a way that “could effectively dismantle the Republicans’ pseudo-morality campaign by pointing out the cruelty and real-life results of their regressive fundamentalist social policies.” that will turn the nation into an uneducated people.” mass of mediocre and conspiracy-inspired human beings.”
Shenkar-Osario agrees, and his data backs him up. According to her, the Democratic message should be simple: “Trump’s Republicans will take away our freedoms.” That message triggers loss aversion, a phenomenon in which people are more motivated to avoid potential loss than to assess future gain. “Once you have something, even if it’s not that great, you don’t get excited about losing it,” Shenkar-Osario explained, recalling how people barricaded themselves on the floor of Congress when Republicans threatened to kill the ACA during Trump’s presidency. Repeating a simple and effective message works, resonates with voters and, according to Shenkar-Osario, “breaks the noise.”
That “noise” or “flood the area with shit” according to to Steve Bannon, has been dominated by the right-wing media ecosystem that manufactures remakes and reboots of the Southern Strategy that was unleashed during the civil rights movement to terrorize the white majority into voting against their own interests. By now, everyone has heard his verbal excrement: “Immigrants will take your jobs,” “CRT is erasing our history,” and “Democrats will take your guns and your freedoms.” Republicans are fueling a fabricated culture war by activating a permanent status threat in which a new group, be it immigrants, blacks, Muslims, feminists, LGBTQ, or Teletubbies, will take the dominant place of straight whites in the hierarchy. It is a vomitory of projection, fear and hate slogans that are repeated endlessly on Fox and the right to the point where it becomes gospel. Unfortunately it works.
However, the reality is that Republicans are Really attacking our culture and our freedoms. They are banning books, punishing teachers, threatening businesses, suppressing votes, attacking the United States Capitol, taking away our freedom to elect our president, and ending a woman’s right to have an abortion.
When the Democrats denounce the hateful vision of the Republicans and, in turn, offer a compelling and clear alternative narrative, they win. Recent examples include Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow, who chose to respond to her fellow Republican’s hateful “hairdresser” accusations with a viral video in which she clearly articulated her identity as a white, straight, Christian mother whose values inspire her to reject the GOP’s “hollow and hateful scheme” and anti-LGBTQ bigotry. She promised that Democrats “will not let hate win.” McMorrow’s passion and clarity were rewarded with a huge increase in donations and media engagement, and her speech is being used as a template for democrat messages. Shenkar-Osario told me that when they tested McMorrow’s speech with and without his references to race, race in names was much more persuasive in a sample of 5,000 voters. So much for not participating in the culture war.
Governor Gavin Newsom is another prime example of a Democrat going on the offensive. On Independence Day, Newsom launched an ad in Florida listing all the ways that “Republican leaders attack freedom” such as banning books, voter suppression, restrictions on speech, and the criminalization of women and doctors. He invited Floridians to join him in California, a state ruled by Democrats where they protect and defend freedoms. This was exquisite trolling according to Shenkar-Osario, but more importantly, it was a very effective and memorable message.
As Democrats prepare for the 2022 midterm elections and face off against a thoroughly radicalized Republican Party that fawns over traitors, religious extremists, criminals, and Christian nationalists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, they must get tough on the knife fight, take out the knees to the republicans if they leave. low, and fully participate in the culture war in defense of women, people of color, the poor, and other marginalized communities who are being run over by the GOP’s hate machine.
Shenkar-Osario’s message to Democrats is simple: “Take your turf, go on the offensive, and say what you are forever: perform better on the field and perform better with the masses. If your words don’t get out, it doesn’t work.”
It’s time for Democrats to speak up and say the words.