Republicans are extremists. Democrats need to say so

Republicans are extremists. Democrats need to say so

July 28, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

The Democratic National Committee and state parties are putting out ads highlighting extremist statements and legislative votes by Republicans on issues like abortion. House leaders are promoting a central argument that “extreme MAGA Republicans care about only one thing: their own power.” In addition to abortion, Democratic leaders are planning events around Republican efforts to cut Social Security, as well as gun safety to coordinate with the beginning of the school year.

As a Democratic strategist told CNN, “I understand that you’re frustrated, everything sucks—but that [Republican candidate] thinks that you can’t get pregnant from rape, that person believes in QAnon. … I know you don’t like Democrats—but do you actually want to vote for that person?”

That’s not a hypothetical, by the way. Republican Yesli Vega, challenging Rep. Abigail Spanberger in a competitive Virginia district, has questioned whether pregnancy from rape is possible, because “it’s not something that’s happening organically. You’re forcing it.” And Spanberger is aware of the opportunity this presents, saying that statement is “out of touch with voters in the district, but also reality,” as is Vega’s view that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was merely “a group of Americans exercising their First Amendment rights.”

In other words, Democrats are considering communicating to voters that this is not a choice between two competing legislative agendas: It’s a choice between a policy agenda you might or might not fully agree with advanced by people you might find irritating in one way or another, and an extremist effort to strip people’s rights, support insurrection, and overturn elections. 

Democrats are still Democrats, though. They’re definitely not leaving policy behind, though they’re trying to improve their communication skills. A 12-page playbook from the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee instructs lawmakers and candidates, “When explaining a policy or issue, keep it simple! Don’t fall into the trap that Democrats often do of going into too much detail.” The playbook identifies a series of issues to highlight:

  • Voting Rights Act — (“Post on social media using suggested hashtags: #VotingRightsNow #RestoretheVRA.”)
  • Comprehensive immigration solutions — (“Vilifying and fear and will never solve anything.”)
  • Make it in America — (“We can stop companies from setting up overseas addresses and dodging their responsibility to pay their fair share of takes here at home.”)
  • Student debt relief — (“Ask constituents on social media to respond with how they would spend the money if they didn’t have loans.”)
  • A potential government shutdown — (“When Congress returns in September, we face an imminent shutdown.”)

But you know what would be fabulous additions to that list? Passing marriage equality—or getting Republicans on the record opposing it. Passing the right to birth control—or getting Republicans on the record against it. The House has already held those votes, and 195 Republicans voted against birth control, while 157 voted against the Respect for Marriage Act. Senate Democrats need to get those votes done, now. And any Republican who votes against them, House or Senate, should be on the receiving end of a barrage of ads pointing out where they stand.

Democrats would be irresponsible, both morally and politically, if we just went with the same poll-tested stuff about delivering infrastructure,” Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz told CNN, accurately. “There’s a place for all of that, but these people are out of their minds and are really acting with impunity, and we need to say so.”

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