Friday 9 November 2012

The next fight isn't in D.C.

The Republicans know they have an existential crisis – they face extinction. They know they have nothing more to offer the American people. They know that with the American economy under their control for thirty years, we’ve followed the path of tax cuts for the rich, all the way into a morass of titanic debt and staggering deficits. They know that their chest-beating neo-con foreign policy has gravely damaged not only our military but our national reputation abroad. They know their social policies are widely viewed by people who are not white evangelicals, and by most of the world, as barbaric, trying to throw women back into the nineteenth century, throw gays and lesbians into the closet of discrimination, throw blacks in jail, and throw Latinos out of the country entirely. They know they have driven sane moderates out of their party, leaving only the crooked rich guys and the delusional redneck wingnuts. Not enough money to buy elections, not enough votes to win. They know they’re going the way of the Whigs, because their policies are incredibly destructive.

They had one great chance left, the fact that they were competing against a black President who doesn’t even have the wherewithal to defend himself against their lies; they almost exploited that opening into a presidential win by Romney. And they are going to pray for one more chance to avoid sliding into permanent oblivion, either a Democratic opponent who is another Carter-Dukakis-Obama milquetoast who won’t fight back. For 2016 the Democrats have a lot of strong candidates, white boys from the south and west like Schweitzer and O’Malley who can credibly go to places like Texas and Georgia and start working to make them Democratic again. They also have Hillary, who can spin up turnout among the wingnuts like nobody else. The wingnuts have been repeating for years, as an article of faith, that because the Clintons had the nerve to take from George H. Bush the White House that they thought they had bought and paid for, it must have all been, you guessed it, a conspiracy. And that they must be destroyed. Whitewater! All those murders! Vince Foster! Black helicopters! Paula Jones! Huma Abedin! But that may not be enough. But Hillary is perfectly capable of defending herself. Democrats are learning, very slowly, that they need to nominate fighters who can defend themselves.

So, since Republicans can no longer win by peddling discredited policies or by bullying on weak Democratic candidates, their new strategy is to stop Democrats from exercising any power at all, by using obstruction in Congress to prevent Democrats from accomplishing anything, by exploiting Citizens United to buy the election process outright, and by blocking up the judicial nomination process so that only Republicans get on the federal bench. They know they can no longer compete in the democratic process unless they cheat. And above all, they intend to steal elections.

So that is the next battle. The coming fights won’t be about Santorum versus Christie, or Hillary versus Cuomo, or tax policy or Syria or gay marriage or health care. They will be about the unglamorous grunt work in the statehouses, to keep people like John Husted from stealing elections in Ohio, or Rick Scott in Florida, to stop Scot Walker from busting unions just because they vote against him, to make sure that we have early voting and absentee, to make sure polling places in the ghetto and the barrio have enough ballots and machines, to stop voter purges and intimidation, to shoot down vote-fraud conspiracy theories, to stop voter ID. They will be about electing Democratic governors to stop Republican election fraud. They will be about knowing who your state-level legislators actually are: the battle to save democracy will happen in the states, not Washington. They will be about getting your family and your friends out there to register to vote. They will be about rebuilding the Democratic party in southern states. Only when we have strong Democratic majorities across Washington and across the country, can we begin the work of repopulating the judiciary with sane judges, ending the wave of filibusters in the Senate, overturning Citizens United, and saving American democracy.

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