Resolute Square

We Won A Battle. Let's Win The War.

Democracy had a good day on November 8. It will need many more to beat back the authoritarian-loving GOP.
Published:November 18, 2022

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Have you taken a celebratory lap? That’s great. Do that. Then get back to work because this thing is far from over.

The 2022 midterm election was a great moment for democracy. It was also a testament to tens of thousands of people across the country who worked on campaigns, knocked doors, text and phone banked, and spoke to people in their circles and beyond about the stakes. Those stakes were nothing short of the continuation of the American Experiment. Now, because of that hard work and the success rate of Democratic candidates from school boards to the Senate, the 2024 elections have a much greater likelihood of being free and fair. The American people didn’t just speak, they shouted: We love democracy!

The success of democracy in the midterms was encouraging and a leap in the right direction, but one election does not change everything, though many are declaring overall victory. The Republican Party is clearly shaken and confused, but do not expect to last for long. The GOP made the decision in 2016 to back a presidential candidate who expressed racist, anti-immigrant, misogynistic, greed-based bullying with great vigor. During Trump’s presidency, nearly all elected Republicans fell in line behind him and radicalized the base of the party. A large and extremely dangerous component in that radicalization was the vilification of Democrats. No longer were supporters of the other party merely political adversaries; Trump, extreme far right politicians, and the rightwing media morphed fellow citizens into enemies. It is a tried and true tactic of authoritarian and fascistic movements. We all saw just how successful those efforts had been on January 6, 2021. And now The Donald is back.

That radicalization, those six years of dehumanization, are not undone in a single election. It will take multiple election cycle losses to recede - even if efforts are made by the GOP to take another path - which they won’t. Not only will they not take their road less traveled, I don’t believe they can and have electoral success - at least not as a party with a platform that is unappealing to women, people of color, and young voters. The GOP’s ability to shift their platform is hampered by the radicalized base, not just because they won’t be happy with the changes, but because they make up the majority of primary voters. Good luck getting moderate candidates through in wildly gerrymandered districts. Good luck getting a sane presidential candidate through that primary process. 

Prior to the 2016 election, the pattern was for presidential candidates to appeal to the more liberal and conservative wings of their respective parties, followed by a race to the center as soon as nominees were selected. That rubbed some of those primary voters the wrong way, but generally not so much that they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for their party’s candidate. Now, the GOP base is composed of election deniers, white supremists, incels and other misogynists, proponents of national abortion bans, anti-LGBTQ extremists, and other contributors that that toxic soup. 

The positions GOP primary candidates will need to take to be successful will not be so easy to run from in the general election. Why? Well, this gets us back to the historically bad midterm elections that the GOP just experienced. The party lost independent voters, younger and single women, people of color, and Gen Z voters. Those voters are not going to forget why they were repulsed by so many Republican candidates in 2022. And, if by some miracle some do forget, the presidential primaries are going to be more than a year of stark reminders.

And then there is the manure-slingly show that will be the House Republican Caucus. Kevin McCarthy might be Speaker of the House, but he is going to be presiding over a razor thin majority with kooks like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan wielding huge power. Greene, who McCarthy supported stripping committee assignments from in 2021 will now be cracking the whip constantly nipping at his backside. Have fun with that, Kevin. If McCarthy attempts to work with Democrats on compromise legislation, the nutter wing will kill his efforts. Lean into the nutter wing and he will lose the few remaining normal people in his caucus and he passes nothing out of the House. And over in the Senate, well, Mitch is in for a long two years in the minority again. Worse still, he has to work with valueless creeps like Ohio’s new junior Senator, J.D. Vance. 

The current messaging disarray on the right will begin to coalesce soon. It always does, but a more moderate turn appears to be the least likely of outcomes. Why? Because women like Civil Rights, the LGBTQ community and millions of people who know and love them will not accept their dehumanization and persecution, Black Americans are not keen on having their hard-fought voting rights stripped away, and then there is Gen Z - that wonderful generation that is not only the most diverse in US history, but also the largest and the most politically engaged. Most importantly, we proved our willingness to do the work to save democracy and we will do it again.