The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

Out of Touch Politicians Are Not Getting the Clues

So yesterday Joe Manchin announced he would not run for another Senate term (yay), but then he dropped big hints he might to open to other things

“After months of deliberation and long conversations with my family, I believe in my heart of hearts that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia. I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for re-election to the United States Senate, but what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.”

This immediately fueled speculation that Manchin might be angling for a nod from No Labels to run for POTUS. If Manchin seriously thinks there’s some groundswell of “moderate” voters out there just looking for a right-leaning, anti-progressive Democrat to vote for, he’s likely to be disappointed. In truth, the word “moderate” means absolutelly nothing in the U.S. political climate. But of course No Labels is hardly a group that cares about ordinary Americans.

I’m sure No Labels prayerfully hopes there are substantial numbers of voters who are lost somewhere between the GOP’s culture wars and MAGAism and the Democrats’ increasingly progressive direction, which would have been a lot more progressive had rats like Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema not been gumming up the works. But I don’t think there are. The closest they might get are with low-information voters who are not Fox News viewers and whatever Hillary Clinton die-hards are still breathing. And frankly I don’t think there is any voter support for Joe Manchin, anywhere.

Democrats are rightfully concerned that Manchin’s retirement from the Senate could cost them a Senate majority. But there were a lot of warning signs out there that Manchin was likely to lose next year, anyway. At the Bulwark, Jonathan Last argues that the Dems will be hurting without Manchin, and that if they want to win more elections they need to make their tent bigger to allow for more Manchin-esque type candidates. Do I ever disagree. I think the third-way style Democrats that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s — and I include the Clintons —  did huge damage to the Democratic brand. The young folks especially refused to believe there was any real difference between the parties, until possibly very recently, and that was mostly because of abortion. Democrats will benefit from a consistent policy message and then delivering on that message whenever possible. If the young folks would turn out to vote in big numbers because they trust Democrats to deliver on issues they care about, it would be genuinely revolutionary.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party seems determined to promote the most extreme MAGA candidates it can find, even though voters keep signalling they want something else. Aaron Blake writes that they just can’t get the clue that voters are looking for “mormal.”

While Gov. Andy Beshear (D) steered his way to a relatively easy victory Tuesday, Kentucky Republicans swept every other statewide race. And no candidate took more votes than Secretary of State Michael Adams (R).

Adams is merely the latest candidateto show his party how successful it can be when it doesn’t marginalize itself with such things as election denialism — and even fights back against it.

Adams flat-out denied the Big Lie, period. He actually discussed expanding voter access. He was endorsed by some Right to Life groups but I take it he didn’t campaign on banning abortion.

Adams wound up taking 61 percent and nearly 785,000 votes, according to the most recent results, compared with GOP gubernatorial nominee Daniel Cameron’s 47 percent and 627,000. Adams’s vote total also outpaced four other statewide GOP candidates.

At the New York Times, Jamelle Bouie writes that The G.O.P’s Culture War Shtick Is Wearing Thin With Voters.

To be fair to Republican strategists, there was a moment, in the fall of 2021, when it looked like the plan was working. Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee for governor in Virginia, ran on a campaign of “parents’ rights” against “critical race theory” and won a narrow victory against Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic governor, sweeping Republicans into power statewide for the first time since 2009. Youngkin shot to national prominence and Republicans made immediate plans to take the strategy to every competitive race in the country.

In 2022, with “parental rights” as their rallying cry, Republican lawmakers unleashed a barrage of legislation targeting transgender rights, and Republican candidates ran explicit campaigns against transgender and other gender nonconforming people. “They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the drag queens,” said Kari Lake, an Arizona Republican, during her 2022 campaign for governor. “They took down our flag and replaced it with a rainbow.”

And, of course, Lake lost, as did a lot of other MAGA candidates. But this year the GOP doubled down.

Undaunted, Republicans stepped back up to the plate and took another swing at transgender rights. Attorney General Daniel Cameron of Kentucky, the Republican nominee for governor of that state, and his allies spent millions on anti-transgender right ads in his race against the Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear. In one television ad, a narrator warns viewers of a “radical transgender agenda” that’s “bombarding our children everywhere we turn.” Beshear won re-election. 

The thing is, right-wing politicians have been using scare tactics to win elections going back to Joe McCarthy, if not earlier. They painted the opposition as pro-Communist pro-desegregation pro-racial justice pro-welfare pro-affirmative action pro-Women’s Rights Amendment etc etc etc. And on the whole it’s worked pretty well for them over the years. It’s also pretty much all Republicans know how to do these days. The current crop in the House can’t seem to organize themselves to pass bills or do much of anything except inept “investigations” of Hunter Biden and his legendary laptop.

I’m sure there are still a lot of voters who fall for the scare tactics. But now they aren’t working the way they used to. Perhaps there are more voters now who grew up on the Internet, and they are more sophisticated message consumers. Or something. And certainly what was said at the Republican candidate “debate” Wednesdy night didn’t reveal that anyone was ready to take a new direction.

So Joe Manchin and the No Labels crew are out of touch, and Republicans are out of touch. I’m not going to give Democrats a complete pass. This Huffington Post article says Democrats in Washington have been slammed by constituent phone calls demanding a cease fire in Gaza, and this has thrown them off guard. I disagree somewhat with the author of the article,