This is the election cycle that could lead not just to the end of MAGA, but also any significant power for the Republican Party for the foreseeable future. Yeah, that’s right: it’s not just Trump’s political future on the block; it’s the fate of the GOP.
I’m not saying this lightly, in the on-brand over-the-top fashion familiar here. The Republican Party is in tatters. The House is a microcosm of the Party: various factions of the far-right–the fiscal conservatives, the social conservatives, the nationalists and the lunatics–are pulling on the hairs of leadership just enough to merit attention, and the attention they’re demanding is cumulatively enough to derail the proper function of government. And while there may be a handful of Republicans brave enough to cross the aisle to work with Democrats to pull the nation back from the brink of fiscal disaster, the rank and file of the GOP is so cemented in their singular mindset, they won’t consider crafting an old-fashioned compromise bill.
While Americans who aren’t directly employed by the federal government won’t see the impact of the shutdown immediately, that impact will be felt if the shutdown lasts more than a week. Checks to contractors won’t go out. The first round of paychecks won’t be dispersed. People looking for federal services–from the Medicaid HelpDesk to a national park–won’t find help. The dysfunction of the GOP will start to shine to the populace, again. And this is what Democrats need to pounce on nationally.
Republican dysfunction puts virtually every Republican House seat in play, and Democrats should change the message in toss-up and “lean R” races with a Republican incumbent to that Congressman being part of the problem. “You complained about the Swamp. Well, guess what: You are the Swamp.” Highlight how Republican intransigence has led not just to gridlock, but to a downgrade of US credit, leading to higher prices for everyone. Highlight the useless Biden Safari Committee Hearings. Highlight the laughable LB², the volatile MT
G and whatever George Santos is. Highlight the GOP overwhelming voting against drug price limits and veterans benefits. Highlight the votes against infrastructure funding. Point out that the Republicans have caused the last three shutdowns–two when they controlled Congress AND the White House. The message: Republicans aren’t working for you. Hell, the Republicans aren’t working for anyone.
Yes, you’ll say, this tactic was done before: Republicans were quick to paint virtually every Democratic House candidate as Nancy Pelosi’s or Hillary Clinton’s best friend, and Dems in swing districts attached Donald Trump to every moderate GOP candidate over the last three cycles. What I’m proposing is slightly different: appeal to moderates who understand that government has some role, and that to fulfill that role, it must function properly. Leverage the dysfunction of the entire GOP, not just Kevin McCarthy. Make it embarrassing to be aligning with Republicans if you’re an independent. And make moderate Republicans feel shame, if at all possible.
If Democrats want to swing the House, focus on the chaos, not the leadership. Keep Kevin McCarthy personally out of it and make it about the Party in general. Encourage people to not just vote for Biden vs. the GOP candidate, but to check the Democratic boxes down the line. “Democrats get things done.” The comparison should be stark, and it should be put front and center.