Monday, September 16, 2019


Democrats are being warned that relitigating Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court would be bad for them politically.

(@clairecmc is Claire McCaskill, who lost her Missouri Senate seat just after the Kavanaugh was confirmed.)

Democrats didn't regain the Senate in 2018, though they won a large number of seats in the House, and did very well in state and local races. And yet there's fear if Kavanaugh becomes an issue again, even though polls in 2018 showed that a plurality of Americans disapproved of his confirmation (scroll down here).

Meanwhile, Republicans position themselves on the wrong side of public opinion on multiple issues, even when the numbers are overwhelmingly against them:

That's from a new CBS News poll. Only 16% of Americans think climate change is not a problem, and only 18% think it doesn't need to be addressed -- which is the Republican Party's position.

We're told that Democrats need to run away from unpopular positions -- in favor of reparations or eliminating private health insurance, for instance -- and maybe that's true. But why is it true -- or to put it another way, why isn't that true for Republicans?

The Republican Party's position is that no gun law should be tightened -- despite the fact that universal background checks have support approaching 90%, as do red-flag laws, while an assault weapons ban and even gun registration have the support of large majorities of Americans. How do Republicans get away with this?

Approximately three-quarters of Americans support hiking taxes on rich people. Republicans are unalterably opposed. How do they get away with that?

I think it's because Republican voters hear a simple, clear message from the news sources they trust every day: The people opposing you are Democrats. To get what you want, vote against Democrats. Vote for Republicans. And so all the people in the tiny minority who support maintaining the gun show loophole and keeping taxes low on the rich and doing nothing on climate change turn out to vote. Other conservatives who don't agree with these extreme positions also turn out, because the tribal solidarity gets them pumped up. Add in Democratic voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the Electoral College, and Republicans win.

Mainstream news sources, by contrast, tell Democratic voters that the problem is the system, or Washington, or gridlock, or Congress. Many lefty news sources say both parties are equally to blame for our problems. What's rarely heard is this message: It's the Republicans. Vote them out and things will be better. So it's hard to turn out voters who oppose Republican policies, and hard to keep them focused on the goal of keeping Republicans out of office.

Democrats need the slack to be able to endorse ideas that don't have widespread support. As it is, they're at risk when they endorse mildly unpopular ideas, while Republicans aren't at risk when they endorse extremely unpopular ideas. That's where we are as a nation.

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