We Want to Lose! We Want to Lose!
Democrats are in charge in Washington and seem to crash and burn in terms of getting things done, like the infrastructure bills. Biden’s approval ratings seem to be in the 40% range (and falling), and the moderates and progressives in the party don’t seem to compromise. This is currently affecting state and local races and bodes poorly for 2022 and 2024. They seem to be particularly bad at public relations, while Republicans really appeal to their base. The standard definition of charisma is charm and attractiveness that inspires devotion. Apparently, the Trump gang needs a somewhat different definition, which would include anger, hate and vindictiveness.
Even as a moderate, I find many Republicans statements and positions horrifying, but this seems to be the red meat their constituents love. They brilliantly harp on simplistic positions and statements that work. Virtually anything that might help individuals is called socialism (which is not remotely close to standard definitions of the term. Seventy years ago it was communism, with the same relative effect). Right wing media is amazingly effective and propagandistic. Granted, journalists at Fox can be objective (Chris Wallace comes to mind), but the right-wing flamethrowers seem to be the popular ones.
Democrats (and liberals in general) seem inept on public relations. “Defund the police” is a super loser, for example. There is a bipartisan infrastructure bill passed, which won’t move forward until a large “social infrastructure” bill also passes. My interpretation is: “let’s see if we can get zero and guaranty super 2022 losses.” I’m not sure the big bill wins a single vote (although most programs seem useful), but the loss would be catastrophic. We’ll see.
The effectiveness of Trump and right-wing “anti-rhetoric” is amazing. The 2016 presidential election is a case study in unexpected ways to win elections. Trump’s flame thrower hate-filled bloviations obliterated his Republican opponents. Hillary seemed the obvious winner based on background and experience. She was a lawyerly workaholic with a long record (but limited charisma). Right wing media have attacked her since she was the Arkansas’s governor’s wife. Benghazi and emails seemed to be the two issues the Republicans pressed, which for some reason proved effective. Honesty and demonstrating some comprehensive of how government worked were not Trump’s strengths, but seemingly irrelevant to his voters. His lack of honesty and incomprehension of how government worked in practice did not much affect his voters four years later. Trump got more votes than in 2016, just not nearly enough to win.
This looks disturbing. Arguably, Nixon and Bush/Cheney (I think mainly Cheney) pushed for an imperial presidency and both got reelected with negative results. History suggests dictators assuming near-divine personas existed across history. Democracy is tough to maintain, like in Ancient Greece. Before World War II, both Germany and Italy were democracies. The Economist’s Democracy index indicates how difficult democracy still is to create and maintain. A recent headline was “Global Democracy Has a Very Bad Year.” In 2020, only 23 countries were rated full democracies (14% of all countries), with Norway number 1 at 9.55 out of 10. There were 52 flawed democracies, 35 hybrid, and 57 authoritarian regimes. The best the US could do was a “flawed democracy” at number 25. The numbers suggest the US pattern is down a bit, every year from 2010, to 7.92 in 2020; Canada had the opposite pattern, up a bit since then and rated a full democracy at 9.24 in 2020.
So far, it doesn’t look like Democrats in power are going to improve those democracy index scores. Future success looks iffy.
Addendum: November 3, 2021: Washington Post headline: Glenn Youngkin wins Virginia governor’s race. The November 2 election went according to “We Want to Lose” plans; they did. Republicans followed the Trump train, while Democrats flounder and continuing to demonstrate their inability to convince voters they’re competent. Dana Milbanks’ column stated: “Youngkin’s victory confirms a dependency reality: Trumpism succeeds as a tactic even in the absence of Trump. … He ran a classic MAGA campaign.” Youngkin ran on such issues as critical race theory, voter fraud, and dark conspiracies. Exit polls indicated that the majority of Youngkin voters doubted their votes would count.
The Manchin and Sinema folk can hold their “We Want to Lose” signs high and proud. Manchin strategically announced on November 2 that he was shocked (SHOCKED!) at the “real cost” of the Democratic $1.75 trillion social infrastructure bill. Will it ever pass? Please note that Manchin is not my idea of a moderate, people who should demand compromise and passage of reasonable bills.