The Republicans have given the Democrats a gift. And Dems should use it in preparing for the 2022 mid-term elections.
The gift consists of: 45 Republican Senators voting not to proceed to trial on Trump’s impeachment; 147 House Republicans, the same day as the insurrection, voting to overturn President Biden’s election; 199 voting to support QAnon-professing Marjorie Taylor Greene; and Trump’s impeachment defense including the assertion there was election fraud.
A PBS Newshour/Marist poll found that nearly nine in ten Americans (88 percent) opposed the actions of the Trump supporters who stormed and ransacked the Capitol. This went across party lines: 96 percent Democrats, 86 percent Independents, 80 percent Republicans. The same poll found that 58 percent of Americans blame Trump for the violent insurrection on January 6.
According to the Pew Research Center, most Americans (74 percent) who have heard QAnon’s conspiracy theories say they are bad for the country and that Trump supports people who promote them.
It was clear that a majority of House Republicans would vote not to certify the election, or strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments, leaving it for the Democrats to do. It is equally clear that not enough Senate Republicans will vote to impeach Trump. Nevertheless, when one looks at the polling, the Republican denials of reality are both out of step with the country and are the stuff of a successful mid-term campaign for the Democrats.
Disapproval among Americans for Donald Trump is at 58 percent. This disapproval can be transferred to his Congressional supporters. The campaign should begin immediately after the impeachment trial. It should stress that the Grand Old Party (GOP) has transformed into the Party of Trumpism. It should target those Congressional Republicans who voted not to: certify the election, impeach Trump, and condemn QAnon and other conspiracy theories. It should point out that there is precedent for convicting a former high official impeached during his term of office. Democrats should brand the targeted Republicans with being anti-democracy and supporters of baseless conspiracy theories, including the one that caused the insurrection: Trump’s lie that the election was stolen.
This kind of campaign would work. The former GOP is shrinking. After the insurrection at the Capitol, Republicans in swing states started leaving the GOP in droves: Colorado lost 4,600, North Carolina 6,000 Pennsylvania 10,000, and Arizona 5,000. The Biden coalition is larger than Trumpism’s base. Biden beat Trump by more than 7 million votes. More than 81 million of us did not, and do not, approve of Donald Trump, or Trumpism’s tactics.
As competent as President Biden is, Democrats have to acknowledge, and plan for the fact, that his election was more about people wanting to get rid of Donald Trump than elect Joe Biden.
This is best understood by the fact the Democrats lost 13 seats in the House and only hold the slimest majority (Vice President Harris’s vote) in the Senate. If the Biden administration is to carry out its agenda, the Democrats have to maintain, or increase, Congressional majorities in 2022.
The longing for bipartisanism and “regular order” should not deter Democrats from using the kind of approach I am advocating. We are not living in normal times. Our Capitol was attacked by a mob mostly made up of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and QAnon believers. The insurrectionists were part of Trump’s base. They were attempting to overturn a presidential election and capture and/or kill our elected officials. The Trumpist Party needs these votes to have any chance of regaining Congressional power. It will not, therefore, cooperate with the Democrats.
The kind of arguments I’ve laid out will help keep the Democratic base together. The Republicans, by their votes, gave the Democrats a gift which can keep Dems in power, if they use it correctly.