Republicans: bad (for the majority) on policy, but good at some basic politics
David Rothkopf has a nice rant on Twitter about how terrible the Republicans are.
I like this use of historical imagery here: “Republicans could not have less to do with the party of Lincoln & debase his memory every time they invoke his name as a shield against their deep racism.”
That’s valid as a historical point. But it also works as a political point.
Mehdi Hasan has been making the point that the left (at least in the US and Britain) is oddly addicted to logical arguments and lists of programs as political persuasion. But reactionaries like the Republicans or the British Conservatives regularly appeal to use emotional and symbolic appeals.
And that’s very true, although he notes that Barack Obama was good at making emotional appeals in a way that most Democrats are not. Actually, Bill Clinton’s ability to come across as empathetic - the “I feel your pain” phenomenon as commentators called it - was key to his personal political success.
But it’s always important to keep in mind in US politics how massive the influence of big donors has become, a phenomenon that’s been around for a long time but put on steroids by the Supreme Court with the Citizens United decision in 2010. The US not only needs new laws - and a Supreme Court with integrity. We also need the Democrats to do more basic, old-fashioned organizing and build up small donor networks that partially counter the oligarchic influence in elections.
But the Republicans in many cases have been doing a better job of old-fashioned party-building than the Democrats. The Democrats have let state and local party organizations go moribund in many cases. In order to be able to contest more electoral districts held by Republicans, the Democrats need people running for office at the local level and building up the kind of party and personal networks that it requires. Yes, that means running and losing in many cases. But running and losing can also be a big step in building a successful career as a politician who runs and wins.
Florida is a good case in point. Until fairly recently, Florida was considered a swing state in Presidential politics, a fact most spectacularly highlighted by the 2000 Presidential election. Now it’s seen as more of a safe Republican state. And a significant part of that has been Republicans building a strong party organization while the Democrats have neglected it.
And that includes registering voters (while aggressively pursuing voter suppression against African-Americans). Until recently, Democrats in Florida had the edge in registered voters. But as the Tampa Bay Times reported last year, “The Republican Party of Florida continued to extend its voter registration edge in August, holding a nearly 270,000-voter advantage over the state Democratic Party.”
Rothkopf, David (2023): Twitter 03/18/2023. <https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1637210606678732805.html> (Accessed 2023-20-03).
Mehdi Hasan DESTROYS Suella Braverman - And So Much More. Owen Jones YouTube channel 03/16/2023. (Accessed 2023-20-03).
News Service of Florida (2022): Florida Republicans extend voter registration edge. Tampa Bay Times 09/21/2022. <https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2022/09/21/florida-republicans-extend-voter-registration-edge/> (Accessed 2023-20-03).