In the closing days of the midterm campaign, President Trump has made clear precisely what the GOP stands for these days. He and his party wear their irrationality, racism and cruelty on their sleeves. They bear hug dictators around the world, no matter what deeds those leaders commit (killing and dismembering a journalist) or how explicit is their neo-fascism (as in Brazil, which national security adviser John Bolton candidly acknowledged his boss considers a “like-minded” regime).
The midterms have moved from an election about issues — health care, the tax cuts, debt — to what we can appropriately, for once, say is about the soul of the country. In the final days of the campaign, Trump (on the caravan) and Republicans (on protecting preexisting conditions) have simply lied. The caravan is not a threat, is no where near the border and does not contain Middle Eastern terrorists. Republicans repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare, including its protection for preexisting conditions, with no reasonable substitute; they currently are pursuing litigation that would invalidate Obamacare’s protection for preexisting conditions. These pronouncements are not spin or exaggeration; they are lies. The voters should decide if our politics now refuses to distinguish fact from fiction, truth from falsehood.
In continuing to deploy the Stalinist phrase “enemy of the people” — even after bombs were sent to CNN — and stoke fears of immigrants, the GOP sounds more like the far-right politicians in Poland, Hungary and now Brazil than Americans. Once more, voters have to decide if that dark, illiberal politics has a place in America.
There are fundamental rights — birthright citizenship, the right to vote, the First Amendment — that the GOP has sought to undermine for political gain. For a time, I feared this might work. However, there are reassuring signs that Trump’s nativism, racism and protectionism don’t play well with those not inclined to hoot and holler at his rallies. The New York Times reports:
In Republican-leaning districts that include diverse populations or abut cities that do — from bulwarks of Sunbelt conservatism like Houston and Orange County, Calif., to the well-manicured bedroom communities outside Philadelphia and Minneapolis — the party is in danger of losing its House majority next week because Mr. Trump’s racially-tinged nationalism has alienated these voters who once made up a dependable constituency. . . .College-educated white women now say they prefer Democrats to control Congress by 18 points, according to a survey by Marist College and NPR.In moderate areas, the Republican coalition has long depended on upscale whites casting aside their more liberal views on issues like gun control and abortion to support G.O.P. economic policies. Mr. Trump’s national message does virtually nothing to accommodate those voters.
The midterm elections have therefore become all about Trump, about whether he’s “winning” or “paying a price” for his descent into rancor, racism and misogyny. Suddenly the real “values voters” are those who care deeply about values such as kindness, democracy, rationality and respect. If they show up and vote their values, Republicans are in big trouble.