Joe Biden Speaks Out
“The Big Lie is just that… A BIG LIE!” Joe Biden took to the podium in Pennsylvania and asked the question many of us have been wondering about when it comes to Republicans who know better.
“We’ll be asking my Republican friends in Congress, in the states and cities and counties, to stand up, for God’s sake, and help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election and the sacred right to vote. Have you no shame?” Biden said, after pointing to 28 restrictive voting laws enacted across 17 states and nearly 400 additional bills being proposed. (Politico)
That line was reminiscent of the classic phrase uttered by Mr. Welch that stopped Joe McCarthy from his own version of a Big Lie on June 9, 1954.
Mr. Welch: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
But the result today will be different from the result in the McCarthy era because Republicans have learned from Donald Trump. They have learned not to have any shame or sense of decency. Today’s congressional Republicans are just fine with lying and perpetuating disinformation to get what they want, which is raw power.
The Birth of the Big Lie
In their new book, I Alone Can Fix It, Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker tell us the back story about where the Big Lie came from. It was born on election night 2020 as election returns came showing Biden winning in key states that Trump needed to win, foretelling the end of Trump’s presidency. Fox News was making an early call that Biden had won Arizona. Rudy Guiliani, who may have been drunk at the time, told everyone to “Just say you won.” Just say you won whether or not you did in truth, in fact, in reality. Trump lives in a fact free bubble.
This idea was just a continuation of that delusion and it became the anthem of the Republican Party. If you don’t like it, just don’t believe it. The Big Lie was taken up by conservative media and Trump’s Republicans allies after that. It has led to this dystopian mess we have today with Republican state legislatures using the Big Lie as their figleaf while they cynically deconstruct our election system and replacing it with a partisan system rigged to give them the right to claim a win whether or not they actually have the votes to win. Voter nullification is the icing on top of the voter suppression cake they are baking.
The War on Truth is Also a War on Our Democracy
The war on truth and our democracy, led by Trump and Republicans who are devoted to Trump and Trumpism, is being played out across the country. Republican state legislatures allege election integrity problems that do not exist in places like Maricopa County, the outskirts of Atlanta, Pennsylvania and other suburban areas. These are areas that used to be predictable suburban Republican strongholds, but are shifting to purple and blue. These are the places where enough educated White suburban voters shocked Trump and let him down in 2020 by voting for Joe Biden. In these formerly conservative strongholds Trump was and still is an unacceptable choice for most voters. They voted for Biden, but down ballot they stayed true to their Republican leanings as a way to check progressive change they feared would be too liberal, too “socialist”.
Our country has been and still is a center right leaning country when it comes to who can win the presidency thanks to the Electoral College. Progressives may not like that, but it is the truth. Biden has to please the Independents to win again. Biden understands that. The country is also slowly moving to the left as older White Evangelicals die, their kids reject that faith, and left leaning multicultural Millennials vote in greater numbers. The change is coming too slowly for some and too quickly for others. Trump and Trumpism has hastened the move to the left by turning many suburban voters off to him and, for some, the GOP more generally. Trump has also brought out more low education White working class voters to support him, but not enough to offset the rising tide of voters who were against him.
Trump and Trumpism has winnowed the ranks of self-reported Republicans down to a base of hard core MAGA Americans. Many of these people are okay with violence to get their way, fear the browning of America, adamantly refuse to get vaccinated even to save their own lives and the lives of loved ones, hate immigrants, and want to return to a past where White men had the power and women and darkies knew their place. Trump has forced almost every congressional Republican to bow down to him him as their avowed cult leader. Only Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger have bucked this trend so far.
Trump 2024? Definitely!
At the most recent CPAC conference, the straw poll of participants who attended voted for Trump as their first choice for president in 2024, beating out everyone else by a country mile. Ron DeSantis came in as a distant second with this crowd which is supposed to represent the core of the GOP. Trump currently continues to be the leader of the GOP and unless something big changes he WILL run for president. Even if he is under indictment he could still lawfully run for president. Trump is desperate to be in power again to avoid looming threats of indictments or, by then, trials and to wield power once more, this time as an unabashed, unleashed authoritarian.
Republican States Are Setting Up Trump’s Win in 2024
To prevent the possibility he could lose again, Trump’s Republican allies in battleground states are busy rigging the system so that the Electoral College turns into a chaotic, free for all mess in 2024 with the potential for the submission of Trump-loyal slates of electors from battleground states challenging the duly elected slates of electors chosen by the voters. Republicans will claim their Trump-loyal slates are the legitimate slates based on the new election laws we are seeing that create a right to election subversion by Republican partisan administrators. If these laws had been on the books in 2020 and the people who are now running for positions of power had been there to administer the election, Trump would have been able to stake his claim to a second term.
In short, Republican led state legislatures are shamelessly, in broad daylight, altering the election administration system to permit themselves to steal a win for Trump in 2024. New state laws grant Republicans the power to not only limit who can vote, how they can vote and when they can vote, but give themselves the power to infect what was a perfectly good, well run nonpartisan voting system with GOP partisans who will intimidate voters of color as well as put partisan administrators in control of the outcome with the power to overturn the outcome it if they don’t like it (spoiler alert- because a Democrat won).
This is all about a fearful, shrinking GOP trying to stay in power as the rising tide of people of color approaches the tipping point where White Americans are no longer the majority. Instead, America is moving towards becoming a true melting pot, a truly diverse country. Even now the White Evangelical population is no longer the dominant religious group in America. This rubicon was crossed before Trump was elected in 2016. It is one of the big reasons we are at this tipping point in our country right now. White Evangelicals realize that their culture is being replaced by a mixed race, mixed religious/non-religious culture they fear and reject.
If election subversion laws are passed in the key battleground states that delivered the win to Biden in 2020: Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and others, states with governors who are Democrats or Republicans who still believe in our democracy, will veto these laws. In states like Texas, Georgia and Arizona with Republican governors, election subversion laws will become the law of the state. The only way to prevent election subversion laws in these rogue states would be federal legislation.
Texas State Dems Are Showcasing How Republicans Are Damaging Our Democracy
In Texas, 51 brave Democratic state legislators left the state of Texas in protest and flew to Washington, DC to beg for help from the US Senate. They are pushing for the passage of protective voting rights legislation: the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, or Manchin’s revision of the VRA…anything to push back on the destructive bills being passed by states that prevent voters of color, young people, working people and the elderly from voting and having their votes count. Their absence from Texas means the Texas state legislature does not have a quorum, and therefore, cannot pass any legislation including their draconian voter suppression bill. The Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, is spitting nails. He is threatening to arrest these state legislators if and when they return to the state. This stand off helps to amplify the messages of the Democrats and expose the way the Texas GOP, like many other red states, is trying to put laws in place that let them cheat to win elections.
What Can Biden Do?
Biden spoke out on Tuesday, July 12th, about what Republican state legislatures are doing to our voting rights. What Biden did not mention was the filibuster or his position about modifying it. That is because Biden sees that his first job is to inform the American people about what is happening. I think Biden plans to take this speech on the road. In an era of Faux News that is what a president has to do to get Americans to pay attention.
We no longer have news sources that all reliably report the truth. Conservative media is the willing handmaiden of a deluded Republican Party and a base that demands delusion. Biden will try to educate the American people about the Big Lie being a BIG LIE. Biden cannot directly alter these unamerican state laws- he doesn’t have the power to do that. But he CAN rally Americans to pay attention to this problem as a prelude or set up to a carve out in the filibuster for voting rights. I think and hope that Biden is setting the stage for a modification of the filibuster that Americans will accept once they understand our situation.
What Else Can Biden Do?
Biden can run government well. He is doing his level best to help Americans have better lives. The infrastructure bills are part of that effort to reaffirm that a democratic government can work.
Pursuing a bipartisan infrastructure deal and trumpeting a revived economy and progress against the pandemic, President Biden is trying to persuade the nation that Democrats are the party that gets things done. His message is aimed at holding on to a set of voters in next year’s midterms who could determine the fate of his agenda: suburbanites who abandoned former President Donald Trump in droves.
More than any other group, those independent-minded voters put Mr. Biden in the White House. Whether they remain in the Democratic coalition is the most urgent question facing the party as it tries to keep its razor-thin advantage in the House and the Senate next year. (NYT)
Why the Suburbs Will Make the Difference in this Battle
What Republicans stand for now is a far cry from what todays’ suburban moms and dads are looking for from a political party. Trump followers are all about culture war grievances. They even pretend that the MAGA mob insurrection on January 6th was no big deal. This view is not shared by voters living in the suburbs.
[K]ey suburban populations are mostly white but increasingly diverse, highly educated and relatively affluent. They aren’t scared by immigration; they support it in their own communities—especially with highly skilled immigrants, attracted to work at businesses lured to these suburbs, in many cases, by business-minded Republican politicians. They are repelled by white-grievance politics and culture-war clashes, and concerned about the rise of violent right-wing anti-government plots, like the Jan. 6 insurrection and the thwarted plan to kidnap and execute Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. They used to think of themselves as Republicans, but nowadays the GOP seems disconnected from the things they care about; it talks less about affordable child care or student debt than banning transgender student athletes or making it harder to vote. It’s the inverse of what President Ronald Reagan said in Macomb County all those years ago: They didn’t leave the Republican Party; the Republican Party left them.
Republican voter suppression laws, if they are allowed to stand, will make it harder for many people to vote, but in the suburbs those crucial voters will know where their polling places are and they will not be subjected to long long lines. The question is this– will these crucial voters show up in 2022? If suburban men and women come out in force to vote against the awful candidates Trump has been picking (like abusive Hershel Walker who threatened his wife at gunpoint, to run against Reverend Warnock in Georgia) it could be the beginning of many losses to come for this shameless, antidemocratic party.
The GOP must lose and lose and lose to get the message that Trump and Trumpism is bad for them… and bad for our country.