Friday, November 09, 2018


The ongoing vote count in Florida's Senate and governor's races has narrowed the leads of the Republicans who seemed to have won. Governor Rick Scott, who's trying to hold on to victory in the Senate race, is angry:
Looming recounts in top Florida election contests, including the bitterly fought races for Senate and governor, erupted late Thursday into a fiery feud as Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican nominee for Senate who claimed victory on Tuesday, sued local elections officials in two of the state’s largest counties and accused them of “rampant fraud.”

... “The people of Florida deserve fairness and transparency, and the supervisors are failing to give it to us,” Mr. Scott said. “Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant fraud happening in Palm Beach and Broward Counties.”

“We’ve all seen the incompetence and irregularities in vote tabulations in Broward and Palm Beach for years,” he added, “but here we go again. I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida.”
Remember, this isn't like 2000, when Republicans in Florida stopped a recount -- this is an attack on the initial count of the ballots.

That's an extraordinary challenge to democracy. Also, the fact that Scott, as governor, is stepping in to aid his own Senate candidacy is fundamentally anti-democratic.

But Scott is doing what Republican regularly do when they challenge the democratic order: He's positioning himself as the champion of order, and portraying Democrats as agents of chaos. (He said, “No ragtag group of liberal activists or lawyers from D.C. will be allowed to steal this election from the voters of this great state.”)

This is standard operating procedure for Republicans. Mitch McConnell blocked consideration of Merrick Garland's Supreme Court appointment for a year while pretending that he was defending a precedent he'd made up. McConnell regularly does this -- passing a tax cut bill that wasn't made available for consideration until the last minute, or ramming Brett Kavanaugh through the Senate without the full release of relevant documents -- but it's Democrats who were said to be the disrupters of social order in the case of Kavanaugh. Except in the partisan left-wing media, nothing McConnell did was portrayed as a threat to the orderly conduct of government.

Voters in large numbers have turned against President Trump because he has difficulty working this scam -- to most Americans, he's clearly an agent of chaos, because he doesn't act like an upright, rigid upholder of tradition, the way McConnell does and Scott is doing now. But within his base Trump is seen as the defender of the social order. Much of the country rejected "Democrat mobs" talk from Trump and the rest of the GOP, just as they rejected fear of chaos-bringing immigrants in the caravan, but a large segment of the population responded to those arguments exactly as intended. To those people, and maybe at times to some voters in the middle, Democrats will always be the party of the 1968 Chicago convention unrest, and of riots, crime, and general anarchy.

Should we do anything about this? We shouldn't avoid traditional demonstrations -- Republicans tried, but they never got traction in their efforts to portray the Women's March as a bad thing. However, low-reward acts of protest that are easily caricatured (restaurant and residence protests against individual Republicans) might not be worth it. Boycotts work. Voting and electotral organizing works. Antifa violence doesn't. (But Antifa members aren't Democrats.)

I'd say that Democrats should avoid implying that they support lawlessness by refraining from the use of slogans such as "Abolish ICE," but Donald Trump was accusing Hillary Clinton of wanting "open borders" long before anyone had ever heard of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Sean McElwee.

I think it would help to try to portray Republicans (other than Trump) as chaos-bringers once in a while. We need to challenge the notion that they're the upright ones. I realize that many Democrats did well in the midterms by avoiding personal attacks and concentrating on healthcare and other issues, but isn't there some forum in which Democrats can begin making the case that the GOP is a chaos party?

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