25 May 2011

The Republicans after NY-26

Kathy Hochul's victory in NY-26 yesterday was a warning for the Republicans. This is a district gerrymandered to be a Republican safe seat; only one Democrat had previously won there in the last 50 years. In the low-turnout election of 2010, it went Republican by 74%-to-26%. Hochul's win yesterday, with turnout very high for a special election, is a remarkable shift -- especially since the Republicans far out-spent her. And there's no mystery to how it was accomplished; Hochul turned the race into a referendum on the Republican plan to destroy Medicare, and that was the key issue to the voters.

Will Republicans heed the warning? I doubt it. More likely they'll dismiss it as a fluke; the run of teabagger Jack Davis, who bled off some right-wing votes, provides a ready-made excuse. More to the point, reality-denial is pervasive among the right these days; on evolution, global warming, Keynesian economics, Obama's citizenship, etc., "I don't want it to be true, therefore it isn't", and evidence be damned (and there are plenty of pundits, whether crackpots themselves or shills for various moneyed interests, willing to encourage such self-deception). On the Ryan plan, too, they ignored the reality that it was voting-booth poison, even forcing a vote that got almost every House Republican on record in its favor -- a millstone around their necks which will likely drag many of them down to defeat next year, as David Frum laments.

Politics Plus blog recently reported on what seems to be the Republicans' secret weapon for 2012: gay-bashing. They're attacking gays at every opportunity and working to get anti-gay referenda on the ballot in as many swing states as possible, in hopes of raising turnout among the hate-filled fundies who are their core constituency. It could work. Haters are a shrinking minority now; large majorities of Christians support gay equality despite the Bible's teachings. But the haters tend to be much more fervent than the accepting are -- tolerance doesn’t lend itself to being intense, but hatred does.

It makes a change, though -- in 2010 the Republicans played down “social issues” and claimed that they would focus on economics. So why reverse that strategy now? Maybe the polls and town halls on the Ryan plan, etc., have shown them their economic ideas are so toxic that they have no choice but to fall back on bigotry? If so, the counter-strategy is clear. Tar them with those toxic ideas at every turn, and urge our people to get out and vote against the threat to Medicare, Social Security, and their unions. Even some working-class social conservatives, drawn to the polls by a chance to bash the gays in a referendum, may vote our way on candidates because of those issues.

Aside from Congress, their Presidential hopes are looking bleak too. With Daniels out, their pool of sane candidates is pretty much down to Romney and Huntsman, both of whom are Mormons and thus suspect in the eyes of the fundies who dominate Republican primaries.

And beyond 2012? Here's an amusing look at what the choice of a reality-based vs. wingnut nominee, and whether that nominee wins or loses, could mean for the Republicans. And the madness may devour its own; there are signs that two rising Republican stars, Rubio and Jindal, may run into problems with the birthers (found via Joe My God).

But we still need to be realistic. In the past I've warned against cynicism and pessimism and the despair and passivity they bring, making defeat a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now, though, with the Republicans self-destructing, the real danger is complacency. We need to treat every race (not just the Presidency) as a vital fight which we could lose, no matter how confident we feel. Turnout will be critical. The Republicans think that the pendulum swung back their way in 2010, when actually all that happened was that turnout plummeted. Hochul won in a redder-than-red district by using the threat to Medicare to drive turnout high. That's the real lesson of NY-26. Draw clear lines, expose the reality of what the other side wants, and 2010 really will have been their last gasp.


Blogger Leslie Parsley said...

I've been warning against complacency since Obama won the election and Dems were having a political adrenalin rush. As far as cynicism goes, I think I'm seeing much more of that though and I think it can be very self-destructive.

Apparently, the Republicans didn't get the message and have supposedly introduced a "new" plan that is even more harmful to the common man. They keep saying "this is what the American people want" but it should be clear to them after the NY election that it isn't. But they're too intent on shoving their agenda down our throats to listen.

I, along with many others, cannot sign on to Blogger to leave comments on my own blog. This is the third day and I'm about ready to switch to WordPress. At least I can link to other blogs and give my two cents there.

26 May, 2011 04:45  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

LP: That's part of why I'm glad that most of the new activism today is coming from unions and seniors. They tend to be more pragmatic and practical than the ideologists, and less prone to complacency or cynicism.

The Republicans do seem to be doubling down on their Ryan budget suicide pact, except for a few like Brown who are jumping ship. Maybe they're starting to believe their own propaganda?

Dang, another Blogger glitch after we just got through with that mess on the 12th? They need to get their act together.

26 May, 2011 05:28  
Blogger Robert the Skeptic said...

My fear is that the Dems will think this election is in the bag and feel they can stay home, let others vote. They've done that before with serious consequences.

My guess is that the Republicans will dredge up jobs as the big issue before the election - Obama's policies have not increased jobs (you know, the ones that Republican business has sent overseas... yeah THOSE jobs). So my guess is that Republican advertising will be basically: You want jobs? Then vote Republican.

26 May, 2011 10:59  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I'm hoping that the unions, at least, will be more resistant to complacency -- as will people in the age groups likely to be affected by destruction of Medicare and Social Security.

As for the "vote Republican for jobs" thing, they've given us plenty of ammunition against that, too, from the "bikini graph" to Boehner's "so be it". All we have to do is hit them hard with the truth.

26 May, 2011 11:14  
Blogger Tommykey said...

As for the "vote Republican for jobs" thing, they've given us plenty of ammunition against that, too

Yeah, they pretty much handed that too us on a silver platter when they focused on cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and NPR.

26 May, 2011 13:24  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

That and introducing more creationism-in-the-schools bills than during any previous comparable period in history. But it's not just that jobs aren't a priority -- pretty much every economic move the Republicans have proposed would destroy jobs.

26 May, 2011 13:49  

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