Democrats Fear for Democracy. Why Aren't They Running on it in 2022?

EasyHawk

HR Heisman
Gold Member
Jun 21, 2015
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New York Times
Reid J. Epstein and Jonathan Weisman

One party is running on democracy and elections in 2022, and it is not the Democrats.

Despite a broad consensus on the left that the country’s most revered institutions are in trouble, with President Joe Biden and other leaders warning gravely that protecting voting rights and fair elections is of paramount importance, the vast majority of Democratic candidates are veering away from those issues on the campaign trail.

Instead, they are focusing on bread-and-butter economic topics like inflation and gas prices. Continuing to win elections must come first, the thinking goes — and polls and focus groups show that the issue of voting rights is far down the list of voters’ most urgent concerns.

“You cannot buy a lot of groceries with voting rights,” said Trey Martinez Fischer, a Texas state representative who organized Democrats’ flight from the state in July in a failed effort to block a Republican election bill. “Last summer, there was nothing more important than voting rights, but the universe has shifted, and it’s become a conversation about our economy and inflation and the cost of goods.”

But as that conversation has shifted, Democrats have largely ceded the political turf on the structure of American democracy to Republicans. Riding a lasting wave of anger over the 2020 election, many GOP candidates have put what they call “election integrity” front and center, even as they attack Biden and Democrats over the rising cost of living.

Many Republican candidates have falsely argued in debates, social media posts and TV ads that the 2020 race was stolen from former President Donald Trump, views that are shared by large numbers of the party’s voters. Trump’s allies have continued to try to decertify the 2020 results, and he has made questioning the last election a litmus test for winning his endorsement, which is coveted in Republican primaries.

“It’s critical that we keep the heat on in terms of exposing what was a stolen election,” Peter Navarro, a former top White House adviser to Trump, said on Steve Bannon’s podcast last month.

There is no evidence of meaningful fraud in the 2020 election, a finding consistent from the initial days after the vote through an array of reviews in the nearly 18 months since. Republicans ranging from William Barr, Trump’s attorney general, to state officials from Wisconsin to Wyoming have acknowledged that Biden was the rightful winner.

The parties’ wide gap in energy on elections and voting — which comes during a midterm year when Republicans are ascendant — worries some Democrats, especially Black Democrats who have been dismayed by the party’s inability to pass federal voting protections while in power.

“If people don’t see that Democrats are defending our right to vote, then people may not be enthused about coming out to vote,” said Angela Lang, executive director of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities in Milwaukee.

Partly in response to their base and to Trump, Republican state lawmakers have pressed vigorously to remake the country’s election systems, passing 34 laws restricting voting access in 19 states last year.

Republican candidates are promising more: Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama, who is up for reelection, is running an ad saying the election was stolen and highlighting voting restrictions she signed into law. Her leading challenger, Lindy Blanchard, has attacked Ivey for at one point saying Biden won fairly.

“The Republican base and all Republicans care about not just voter integrity but voter security,” said Corry Bliss, an adviser to several Republican candidates. “If you need identification to buy NyQuil, you should need identification to vote in our elections.”

On the Democratic side, a small handful of candidates running for office at any level of government have run television ads pledging to work to expand voting rights, according to AdImpact, a media tracking firm.

In both parties, candidates are following their voters.

Democrats have told pollsters, focus groups and organizers knocking on their doors that they are most worried about inflation. Despite macroeconomic data that Democrats paint as rosy, Americans broadly do not feel good about the economy. That includes Republicans, but they are also impassioned about electoral issues: Polls show that nearly three-quarters believe that Biden’s victory was illegitimate.

Incumbent Democrats and the White House are trying to make a case that Biden is overseeing a drop in the unemployment rate accompanied by an increase in wages, a difficult strategy since inflation overshadows both of those trends and Democrats are the party in charge. An NBC poll last month found that voters were far more likely to blame Biden for inflation than for the pandemic or corporate price increases.

Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, who serves both on the Jan. 6 Committee and in the House Democratic leadership, said that while “we hope that everybody starts with the base level of ‘protect democracy, support a peaceful transfer of power,’” he and other party leaders wanted candidates “talking about issues that matter, and that is economic.”

Some Democrats have tried to make voting rights a leading issue in the United States. When Texas legislators fled Austin for Washington last summer, they tried shaming Senate Democrats into passing a sweeping federal expansion of voting rights. In January, as Biden pushed for the same goal, he gave a soaring speech in Atlanta comparing today’s Republicans to George Wallace and Bull Connor, villains of the civil rights era.

Neither effort worked.

Now voting rights has virtually disappeared as a top issue for both voters and candidates. In an AARP poll of likely voters age 50 and older that was released this month, voting rights was ninth on a list of the most important issues facing the country, just behind immigration and ahead of racism.

The party’s highest-profile defenders of voting rights are also training their attention elsewhere. Stacey Abrams, the leading Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, is focusing far less on voting rights than she once did in her speeches, eschewing her flagship issue to spend more time addressing topics like Medicaid expansion and aid to small businesses. And in Arizona, Katie Hobbs, the secretary of state who defended Biden’s 2020 victory there, said voters and fellow Democrats would rather talk about anything else.

“The Democratic lawmakers I talk to are tired of this fight,” Hobbs said. “They’re focused on addressing real issues that affect people’s daily lives rather than relitigating the 2020 election.”

Democratic strategists are also advising their clients to move on from talking about expanding voting rights.



© 2022 The New York Times Company
 

onlyTheObvious

HR Heisman
Jan 3, 2021
5,557
6,485
113
can’t flash the ok sign.
owner is now a racists term.
master recording is now racists term.
still want mask mandates
Guy with a penis can compete against women.
defund the police.

sounds great. Run on it.
 

CarolinaHawkeye

HR Legend
Gold Member
Feb 5, 2003
42,668
42,562
113
Iowa
Voter suppression. Majority of Americans are for voter id, but I’m sure you’re convinced otherwise by MSNBC and WaPo.
And you know for a fact what the majority of Americans want or are just repeating the alt-right news streams?
 

Nole Lou

HR All-American
Apr 5, 2002
4,439
9,666
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Democrats should absolutely hammer any Republican who says the election is stolen. Hammer them.

However, the actual provisions of voter integrity laws, like voting id, are broadly popular. And post-election integrity rules are wildly more open than any election prior to the pandemic with more options for early voting, drop boxes, mail in ballots, etc. All the "restrictions" are restricted back from allowances made in the pandemic year, but are far more liberal in most places than before 2020.

In addition, "voter suppression laws" affecting turnout or election outcomes is just as fictional as "election fraud" doing the same. People who want to vote, vote whatever the rules are.

Traction on this issue for dems counts on voters being too dumb to realize that, or just being scaremongered by rhetoric. They went all in on it for months, and couldn't get "election integrity" above like the 10th biggest concern for people.

Its a fake issue, which is 100% fair game in politics, but there's no sense in committing resources to a fake issue that doesn't move anybody.
 

tarheelbybirth

HR King
Apr 17, 2003
66,322
48,728
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No, the imaginary fear that democracy is slipping away...
There was a concerted effort by the previous administration to overturn the results of a free and absolutely fair election. It was run out of the Oval Office by the President of the United States and HIS OWN PARTY has supported him. It has resulted in bills from state legislatures that would allow them to suspend or ignore the results of presidential elections and appoint their own slate of electors. You can bury your head in the sand...or elsewhere...but those are facts that can't be denied and they are absolutely anti-democratic and they are endorsed by one of the two major political parties in this country. There's not a damn thing "imaginary" about what your party is trying to do...and spare me your "I'm an independent" BS.
 

Rifler

HR Legend
Jan 26, 2011
23,404
18,057
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There was a concerted effort by the previous administration to overturn the results of a free and absolutely fair election. It was run out of the Oval Office by the President of the United States and HIS OWN PARTY has supported him. It has resulted in bills from state legislatures that would allow them to suspend or ignore the results of presidential elections and appoint their own slate of electors. You can bury your head in the sand...or elsewhere...but those are facts that can't be denied and they are absolutely anti-democratic and they are endorsed by one of the two major political parties in this country. There's not a damn thing "imaginary" about what your party is trying to do...and spare me your "I'm an independent" BS.

My you are an angry little elf today,... Sleep well dude, democracy is safe.
 

tarheelbybirth

HR King
Apr 17, 2003
66,322
48,728
113
My you are an angry little elf today,... Sleep well dude, democracy is safe.
The issue is that you're NOT angry. You're denying that all that occurred You're saying a major political party can make an attempt to illegally overthrow an election, can violently storm Congress in an attempt to prevent the transfer of power with the endosement and encouragemnt of the president and the sniveling acquiescence of his party and - as long as it's YOUR party - you sleep well at night.

Yeah, color me not at all shocked. That's about what I would have expected from you.
 
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