Political jockeying before the midterms | In Focus

Republicans are stirring up their base — but the picture they’re painting doesn’t reflect reality.

There is less than two weeks before the midterm elections. You should already have your ballots. Both the Democrats and Republicans are framing their talking points to win over undecided voters —in other words, the Independents and disaffected Republicans.

The Democratic framing: Emphasize the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court. The issue of pro-choice vs. pro-life has been a wedge issue for a couple of generations. The SCOTUS decision ended this issue with a great victory for Republicans and President Trump’s three Court appointments. What Republicans came to realize, though, was that after the Kansas vote not to overturn abortion as a constitutional right in that very conservative state, many women, even those who have spoken out against abortion, actually don’t want to end the freedom to choose.

Democrats are using this as the defining issue of why to vote Democratic in the midterms. Democratic strategists are also using “saving our democracy” as a key focus and framing of the election. The Jan. 6 Special House Committee hearings have strongly and definitively pointed out that Trump led an attempted coup to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Voting Democratic means “saving our democracy”.

Many Trump candidates may have won the primaries but will find it difficult to win in the general election due to anti-Trump sentiment by the general voting population.

President Biden is helping to win this election by favoring the reestablishment of labor unions and encouraging the creation of jobs, which will split the labor vote, taking some votes away from Republicans. He got major legislation passed to financially help those affected by COVID-19, including paying parents of minor children. He got legislation passed in a bi-partisan vote to fix the nation’s infrastructure. He made an executive order forgiving student debt of $10,000 – $20,000 for those making under $125,000 per year. He got legislation passed to cut drug costs for Medicare recipients, especially of insulin.

He also has worked to tamp down inflation by releasing millions of gallons of petroleum from the strategic reserves and jawboning CEOs of the petroleum industry to cut gas prices. These decisions are mainly cosmetic, but they do show that the President is acting to lower inflation.

The Republicans are framing the election by making four major points: 1) Biden has failed as president—he’s too old and out of it. He’s really being managed by clever handlers. 2) Rising inflation is Biden’s fault. This includes rising food and gas prices. 3) Biden has failed to keep immigrants from flooding across our southern border. 4) Crime rates have risen as a result of illegal immigration and lax liberal enforcement of laws.

Here’s my take: 1) For a president who is accused of being old and doddering, Biden has been amazingly competent in pushing Congress to pass three major bills since he took office. True, he has had a lot of help from competent cabinet secretaries and staff. But that’s what good leaders do — hire people who are good at what they do. 2) Inflation is occurring worldwide, not just in the U.S. The war in Ukraine has played an enormous part in raising the price of petroleum and food. Additionally, OPEC+ has defied the President’s request to produce more gas, cutting two million barrels per day in their defiance against Biden and aid to Putin. Presidents are usually helpless with doing much about inflation. 3) The immigration problem is the result of Congress — not the president. Their unwillingness to compromise is what has created problems along the southern border. 4) The Republicans are partly right on rising crime rates. Progressive prosecutors have avoided prosecuting crimes. This comes as a result of accusations of systemic racism and bad police morale as a result. The problem is that Republican candidates using slogans like “Make crime illegal again” does not offer any concrete solutions, it only points out the problem.

I tried to be balanced on this analysis of the framing by both parties, but Republicans are really offering no positive programs. Many Republicans still favor Trump and his policies, even in the light of impending criminal indictments and civil suits.

The saving of our democracy is the nation’s biggest issue right now, followed by mitigation of the negative effects of climate change.

The choice seems clear to me. I just hope the majority of the voters agree come Nov. 8. The Independents and disaffected Republicans hold the key. Let’s hope for a big voter turnout.

“The solution for the ills of democracy is more democracy.” (John Dewey)