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Est. April 5, 2002
October 11, 2018 - Issue 759

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Republicans Revived
Kavanaugh Confirmation Victory

"The Democrats seem to be once again
relying on their standing in the polls and
the enthusiasm of their voters as they have
begun their victory laps for the November 6th
election rather than organizing on the ground."

Trump Updates to the Midterms:

  • Last week, Trump mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh to unite Senate Republicans to push him across the finish line to take his seat on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

  • After a simmering controversy over Deputy Attorney General’s Rod Rosenstein’s continued employment, Trump has stated that he will be kept in his job as Rosenstein has shown him loyalty with his deft management of the sham supplemental Kavanaugh investigation.

  • Trump has artfully repositioned the Republicans as the victims in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and has weaponized them to rally his base to turn out to vote in the upcoming primary.

  • He has been on a series of victory laps and has redefined the Democrats as a mob of violent dissidents who are “too dangerous to govern” and are attempting to undermine him and the values of America.

It is widely believed that the Democrats are riding a blue political wave that will drive Republicans to minority status in the House and possibly the Senate in 2019. This view is supposedly affirmed by a series of generic polls that indicate that Americans prefer Democrats over Republicans in state and national elections. Democratic leaders are embracing these findings and are developing an agenda to reshape the political landscape once they take charge. It is ironic that on October 16, 2016, based on the polls at that time, Hillary Clinton was measuring drapes for the Oval Office as everyone was assured that she would be elected President, nearly four weeks before the actual election.

It appears to be déjà vu all over again as Democrats are engaged in the same political overreach, 26 days before the midterms. Some are planning for the impeachment of President Trump and have now added newly minted Justice Kavanaugh to the equation because they are convinced he is a sexual predator whose crimes Republicans covered up during his vetting process.

At this point, it would be wise for Democratic leaders to abandon these notions and to concentrate on those factors that could actually lead them to victory: a clear message to energize their key constituent groups; an examination of those barriers to voting registration and voting; and a heavily funded and focused organizing process on the ground to get-out-the-vote (GOTV) on November 6th.

In this eleventh hour before the midterm elections, Democrats are in political disarray. As noted repeatedly during the past months, they have not established a clear and comprehensive message that brings their key supporters together—young people, minorities, the middle class, and women. Many of these individuals are members of sub-groups and need messages that interest them in particular. For example, among women, teachers, a large and active constituency, need Democrats to re-iterate their commitment to collective bargaining and improved working conditions as they are under siege, especially in Red states, where Republicans are attempting to turn them into contingency workers with low wages and limited benefits.

Minority groups and youth are being oppressed with discrimination and crushing student debt, and the middle-class has been victimized by the so-called tax reforms that favor the one percent and while being subjected to a higher tax burden. Unfortunately, several erstwhile Democratic presidential aspirants are using and have used the explosive sexual assault allegations against then Judge Brett Kavanaugh, by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, as a platform to advance their presidential ambitions, raising money for their campaigns and visiting Iowa, site of the first presidential primary.

But even more disturbing is the Democrats ignoring the Republicans in their ongoing design of barriers to voting: making it difficult to register to vote; purging voter rolls of minority and low-income voters; making voter IDs more difficult to obtain; reducing the number of weekend days for early voting; decreasing the number of voting precincts in minority neighborhoods and on college campuses; and requiring college students to vote in their home states. These schemes were the key factors in Republicans winning the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections in Florida and Ohio, respectively, and in several state and federal legislative bodies. Democrats have paid scant attention to these electoral ploys which have enabled Republicans rise to power.

However, the Democrats seem to be once again relying on their standing in the polls and the enthusiasm of their voters as they have begun their victory laps for the November 6th election rather than organizing on the ground.

At present, Republicans are better positioned in organizing their voters to turn out, and their enthusiasm is surging as Trump travels the country mouthing a mantra of us against them—Republicans v. Democrats. Meanwhile, several Democrats are preening to become President of the United States (POTUS).

Thus, Democrats are once again relying on polls rather than doing the gritty work of organizing their voters to show up on Election Day. Nonetheless, some Democratic candidates have been organizing to get out their base: Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, and Ben Jealous African American gubernatorial candidates in Georgia, Florida, and Maryland, respectively, and Beto O’Rourke, U.S. Senate candidate in Texas. They know from experience since all four are running in Republican-controlled states that their only route to victory is to physically turn out their base voters in extraordinary numbers.

Elsewhere, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in Boston and New York City, used aggressive GOTV organizations to defeat long-term Democratic incumbents in primary races. As a consequence, they are effectively guaranteed election to the House in their general elections in overwhelmingly Democratic districts.

If the Democrats do not address these issues, the Republicans will triumph in the midterms and will hold on to their power, allowing President Trump to continue running amuck.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 

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