The Republican party, now composed almost exclusively of Trump-addled know-nothings, has been busy handing Democrats all the talking points they can use for next year’s election. From such talking points we can expect to see gut-punching ads that star all your favorite Republicans, in all their splendid fraudulence.
The idea is to hang them with their own words. Make them own the lies they tell on camera. Let those lies be the fuel for the attack ads against them. Treat the whole GOP as a target-rich environment, where everywhere you look there’s another liar. Feel free to target them without mercy.
The ability to lie, shamelessly and constantly, is a core skill of Republican politicians. These bought-and-paid-for toadies have signed up for any posturing they’re called on to do, the more theatrical the better. They’re trained to lie effortlessly, and to maintain their lies, no matter who calls them on it, or how sharply it contradicts the lies they told the day before. They’re impervious both to irony and embarrassment.
Would I rather the election be about anything but GOP chicanery? Would I rather it be about the economy, or climate change, or Ukraine, or gun control, or any of several dozen pressing issues Republicans refuse to address? Of course, I would.
But we’re in strange times, with our democratic system on the line once again, and we’ll need to figure out which issues will have the most traction come Election Day. There is no shortage of issues to choose from, but for me, these are the ones that scream the loudest:
The abortion fight is the most motivating issue Democrats have seen in my lifetime. The fifty years of Roe v. Wade was a beautiful thing for Republicans, and they already miss the cover it used to give them. They delighted in using that cover to demonize Democrats as baby-killers, safe in the knowledge that abortion was legal, and that any woman — including their daughters and mistresses — could get one on demand.
The Dobbs decision ended all that, and in doing so blasted open a Pandora’s box of ills — legal, medical, financial, administrative, moral — that Democrats will be exploiting for a generation. It didn’t have to happen. But politically, it’s a gift.
We can see the dimensions of that gift as we watch the social cancer metastasize. It has spread to women who want and expect to have babies, but whose pregnancies have somehow gone sideways, threatening their future fertility and, quite possibly, their lives. Enter that noted medical authority, Texas AG Ken Paxton — possibly the most depraved public figure in the country — who has made it clear to any woman in a similar situation that she has a binary choice: leave the state or die. But she will not, under any circumstances, get an abortion in Texas.
Expect more of this. Expect red-state Republicans to continue doubling down on forced-birth laws and policies. Expect those cringeworthy abortion stories to keep on coming.
And when the Supreme Court effectively bans the abortion drug mifepristone — they’re hearing the case as early as next week — expect the attendant outrage to be off the charts. All we can do is channel that outrage into electoral attacks on those responsible.
We tend to forget that while Trump was, all by himself, the biggest issue motivating Democrats in the electoral blowouts of 2018 and 2020, the attack on Obamacare wasn’t far behind. It was an issue that everyone could relate to, everyone had a stake in, and everyone could tell who was serious about health policy and who wasn’t.
But now, just as Republicans had moved on from those self-destructive attempts to tank Obamacare — just as they finally recognized what a huge loser it was at the ballot box — Trump, out of the blue, has brought it back into the conversation. Reiterating his longstanding promise to “repeal and replace,” he returned the issue to the headlines for us all to appreciate anew.
This was a breathtakingly bad move, as even conservatives have learned to enjoy the benefits of Obamacare. But since Trump can never let go of anything, he has singlehandedly breathed new life into what had become a non-issue. Democrats’ ads will come straight from his mouth.
The assault on education is another slow-motion train wreck that doubles as a political gift to Democrats. Ground zero for that assault is, of course, Florida, where Ron DeSantis’ war on woke continues to drive away qualified teachers who are fed up with book bans, gay-bashing, medieval school boards, ignorant parents, and the fear of being fired for teaching basic American history.
But there are pockets of Florida-like ignorance all over the country, and last month’s off-year elections featured plenty of pushback against rogue school boards. It turns out parents are not okay with religious cranks stunting their kids’ intellectual growth, and they’re likely to vote accordingly. Because ultimately it’s their kids who will pay the price, when colleges refuse to accept students from schools that are required, by law, to teach only nonsense. In the meantime, this is one more bludgeon Democrats can — and will — use in the next election.
Among all the Trump-branded stooges currently infesting Congress, James Comer stands out. Currently chair of the House Committee on Impeaching Joe Biden With a Straight Face, he ominously warns us of high crimes far worse than those of the previous administration, but which, sadly, never actually happened.
Comer has only one job: To get the words “Biden” and “impeachment” into the same headline, not just in his own media bubble, but also in The Times or The Post or on CNN. And he’s had some success at that. Because while most mainstream news outlets have been pretty good about calling a sham a sham, somehow those two words still make it into the headline.
Even so, generous helpings of Comer gibberish are available, both on camera and in the official congressional record, for use against every Republican on his committee. He’ll play a starring role in the ads that eviscerate him.
But of all the issues being gifted to us, Trump is the gift that keeps on giving. Beyond the dozens of indictments, beyond the crippling financial settlements, beyond his culpability in the Jan 6 insurrection, beyond his open embrace of Nazism, beyond all these things and much, much more, we know he’ll make things even worse. Whenever we think we’ve hit bottom with this Hitler wannabe, it turns out there’s no bottom at all.
So we need to turn his fascism against him. We need to use his indictments, his fundraising scams, and his growing senility against him. We need to use his contempt for democracy, his fellating of Putin, his theft of intelligence materials, and his clear threat to national security — not just against him, but also against every Republican candidate who enables him.
Billboards in every swing state should carry a picture of Trump, side-by-side with the local Republican hack running for office. The headlines will write themselves:
These guys want to throw your kids off your healthcare plan.
These guys want your daughter to carry her rapist’s baby.
These guys don’t care if your kids get shredded by an AR-15.
These guys think a fetus should have more rights than its mother.
These guys want to
force your wife to give birth,
even if it kills her.
And if I may propose a tagline:
Like Your Life Depends On It