By Shivaji Sengupta
Our by-line is about the culture of politics. “Culture” implies adopted modes of behavior of a people whose actions are motivated by a shared belief or beliefs. These beliefs emanate from history (such as the American Revolution to wrest freedom from the British, the creation of the American Constitution), or from superstition and disinformation as what is happening these days. Thus, if my definition of culture is accepted, it follows that culture is not always a dependable indicator for right behavior.
Now let’s apply the above definition to the phenomenon of Donald Trump to the forthcoming midterm elections. The culture he has forged for himself and his supporters seems to me is based on numerous wrong premises, except for the original one in 2016 on the basis of which he ran successfully for president. That premise was at once intuitive and simple: the South and the Midwest was teeming with discontented white lower middle class and the uneducated poor. Whether it was Trump himself who became aware of this or his advisors, we don’t know. What we do know is the way he befuddled a huge number of traditional Republicans such as Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Senator Marco Rubio. Trump was of a different ilk. He completely bypassed everything traditionally statesman like, and took the street hooligan approach to appeal to forty million of the discontented. At first a laughing stock of the whole country, Trump won with his shenanigans, won the Republican nomination by a distance, and eventually, the presidency.
That was Trump’s only right cultural move, not ethical mind you, but pragmatic.
It was Mahatma Gandhi who once said that world history has shown that no power hungry dictator ( he had Hitler in mind) has ever ultimately triumphed over the world. Sooner or later he would fall.
Trump lost in 2020 because those independents who had joined the forty million previously mentioned, had had enough of the chaos of the Trump presidency, fraught with bravado and lies, that brought down the United States in the eyes of the international community. Eighty million voters preferred the long, steady political career of Joe Biden and the international respect he commanded.
The problem was Donald Trump refused to accept defeat. The myth of the stolen election started two years ago and persists today.
It should be obvious here that I am a Democrat opposed to everything Trump represents. But the mainstream Republicans like Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnel, the Bushes, Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz, are as staunchly opposed to Trump Republicans as I am.
The reason is obvious. Donald Trump, despite losing the 2020 elections, seems to have learned nothing from that defeat. How can he? He thinks he won! If you don’t accept reality and therefore cannot analyze its causes, you stay stuck at where you were.
Donald Trump and his Republican Party is stuck.
The man has said absolutely nothing about what the Republicans should do in the next two or six years for the country. All the MAGA Republicans have said so far during the midterm election campaign is that if they win they are going to change the laws governing free and fair elections. In other words, ensure that the Republicans win every close elections. And, oh yes, they want a national ban on abortion, a stand that is bound to alienate not only a majority of women voters, but the majority of voters. Trump, upon whom the fulcrum of this election rests, talks about nothing but the election he lost and claims he has won, and about no one but himself.
Contrast the above with the Democrats. Buoyed the backlash against the Supreme Court decision to severely restrict abortion, leaving its legality to the states, they were able to muscle their way through some important laws benefitting the whole nation: the infrastructure, reducing sharply the price of prescription drugs which will undoubtedly help senior citizens financially.They will now most likely vote Democrat. So that makes two groups, women and senior citizens, who will likely vote for them. Add to these, the recent laws restricting to some extent the sale of guns, and I find difficult to believe that Democrats will lose either chamber, the House or the Senate, as has been predicted.
But let us return to Mr. Trump.
He and his Republican supporters are saying that the inquiry that the Department of Justice is conducting regarding Trump’s illegally bringing over top secret government papers to his home in Mar-a-Lago, is a which hunt aimed at tarnishing Trump’s and the Republicans’ chances in the mid terms. The questions many mainstream Republicans are silently asking, however, is why in the first place Trump decided to bring papers belonging to the Affairs of the State to his own home, an act hitherto unprecedented in American presidency.
This is typical Trump. With nobody around to warn him of dire consequences, he does what he wants without regard to his party, without regard for the law. Yesterday, he appeared in a rally in Pennsylvania (for him, rather than for the senatorial candidate and the candidate for governor) and immediately appealed to a highly partisan crowd by complaining about how the FBI searched his wife’s bedroom and his sixteen year old son’s.
He has endorsed candidates for the mid term elections who support him blindly but who, according many politicians experienced in fighting elections, are not the best. They are simply there because of their sycophant adulation of Trump.
Certain other factors also seem to be going against the Republicans.
Money-wise, they are also behind the Democrats – and for an interesting reason. In 2016, the Republicans outsmarted Democrats in raising through the internet multimillion dollars from the five-and-dime donors who contributed again and again with an average of $7 per donor.
This time, however, with high inflation affecting middle class pockets, these same donors are not responding to the multimillion dollars of ads Republicans have spent trying to woo them.This is a classic case of not doing adequate market research about voter response. As it is, less people vote in mid terms than in presidential elections. With the economy affecting the poor and middle class the Republicans should have realized this instead of blindly following a previously successful approach.
Finally, Biden. For the greater part of his presidency Joe Biden has been under the cosh, as they say in America. His approval rate has been consistently below 50%, and recently threatened to fall below 40%. Thanks to the Russian invasion of Ukraine all western, First World nations have suffered high inflation (Britain is approaching 10%). But voters vote with their pocket book in mind. Still, I think it is to the president’s credit that he was able to convince the two so-called Democrat senators to vote with the party to pass the “Inflation Reduction Bill.” President Biden has repeatedly pointed out these bills in his speeches to the American people.
Last Thursday, he finally took off his gloves and launched a frontal attack on MAGA Republicans saying that – once again – the mid terms are about saving democracy in America, about saving its soul. If the Republicans recapture the House, and Kevin McCarthy becomes Speaker, we can forget about getting anything done in Washington, D.C.Rather than taking care of the American people the House will waste the next two years by trying to impeach President Biden umpteen times.
McCarthy has already announced their intention.
By Shivaji Sengupta