Monday, June 28, 2021


I'm a bit late to this Salon interview with Rachel Bitecofer, the politcal scientist who boasts about predicting the results of the 2018 midterms exactly right, and who has now started a PAC to do more aggressive messaging on behalf of the Democratic Party than Democrats are accustomed to doing.

I know there are people who believe that Bitecofer isn't as perceptive as she claims to be, but I'm here for the message that Democrats need to do more messaging that says simply: We're good. The other party is bad -- and, in this moment especially, One reason to vote for us is that our opponents are crazy and dangerous. (They are, and yet for years they've gotten away with saying that Democrats are crazy and dangerous.)

The Salon piece links to several ads created by Bitecofer's Strike PAC. This one, called "Fuse," seems too harsh and off-putting. It equates Trump and Hitler, which is a leap for a lot of swing voters (and even for some moderate Democratic voters). But it certainly pushes back, which is a good thing.


I prefer the one called "Hold the Republican Party Accountable" -- no Hitler, just Trump saying, "Part of the problem is, nobody wants to hurt each other anymore" and Rudy Giuliani talking about "trial by combat" over January 6 footage. I like the fact that this one also offers clips from campaign ads in which Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert menacingly brandish firearms. (I'd like to see this sort of thing in every ad meant to drive up Democratic turnout.) The ad makes the point that January 6 wasn't the end of Trumpian extremism -- a good message when voters may feel they've already dealt with the threat.

Hold the Republican Party Accountable from STRIKE PAC on Vimeo.

And I really like the ad made for this year's Virginia gubernatorial election. It's called "Steal," and it very effectively hangs both January 6 and the GOP's nationwide vote suppression strategy around the neck of the party's candidate in the race. ("If Trump ally Glenn Youngkin and Republicans win here in Virginia, they'll come for your vote, too.")

STRIKE PAC - Steal from STRIKE PAC on Vimeo.

Would ads like these change the trajectory of electoral contests? I don't know -- but if there were enough ads like this, and maybe better ones, Republicans might no longer believe that they can engage in unlimited extremism with impunity. In the Salon interview, Bitecofer says,
... Democrats just assume, "Well everyone knows the Republican Party is extreme."

Actually, the average person on the street, if they're not one of the 10% of people like us and your readers, you ask them about the Republican Party and they are apt to say, "Low taxes, right?"

There's no media ecosystem that's focused on how crazy the Republican Party is.... There's no intensive conversation about what the Republican Party has been doing for the last five years as it has progressively fallen down the pathway towards fascism.
There's also no conversation about how far to the right of the average American Republicans already were, even before Trump, on guns, abortion, the minimum wage, healthcare, taxation of extreme wealth, and many other issues. These ads fixate on Trump and the Capitol riot, which could lead some viewers to believe that the GOP's problems are Trump-specific. But thy're a step in the right direction.

I know that if Democrats and their allies began running ads like this on a regular basis, they'd be accused of worsening America's political polarization. But mainstream pundits tend to bothsides polarization anyway, so if Democrats are already being accused of being as polarizing as Republicans, maybe they should actually do some polarizing.

All Democrats are made to pay a cost when some of them talk about defunding the police or abolishing ICE. Republican extremism -- which the GOP actually puts into effect nationwide -- shouldn't be cost-free.

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