A Brief Thought on the 2018 Midterms

I’ll admit it; I’m terrible at writing stuff for my own website. And I’m sorry. (On the other hand, one of my planned essays was going to be an angry couple thousand words on why the movie of Ready Player One screwed up the source material, and I’m happy I didn’t subject you to that!)

But that’s going to change. In case you missed the announcements, Form of a Question will be out NOVEMBER 14th in comic shops and NOVEMBER 20th everywhere. I have events planned for six months down the line, and there will be lots of details here and elsewhere.

I also went to New York for NYCC, which was a total blast full of old and new friends and some extraordinary nights on the town. When you’re up at 1:30 in the morning reading poetry out loud in somebody’s apartment and you feel you’re meant to be there, you can say that life’s going pretty good.

But for right now, and this is what this post is about, I’m NOT writing.

Trust me, I would rather be writing. But we live in unusual times, and that calls for unusual action on my part.

Image result for Donkey v. Elephant

Image obviously via Shutterstock…but I like these big, strong, anthropomorphic individuals.

For the past month AND the next two weeks, I have been knocking on doors, calling, texting. Here in Illinois but also in Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Arizona, Texas…shall I go on? All leading up to Election Day.

And I am here to encourage anyone who reads this, and is considering who they will vote for, to cast your ballots with a Democratic ticket as opposed to the Republicans.

That being said, while I’m going to admit upfront I have a left-wing bias (big surprise, I know), my dad taught me to be an independent thinker, and having a D next to your name’s not going to make me automatically vote for you.

Rahm Emanuel, I know you’re reading this, and sorry not sorry.

I also follow my fair share of conservatives on twitter along with liberals, socialists, etc., because I want to know what people are thinking and what value it contributes to the national discourse.

As I’ve said before, true conservatism has a valuable place in the grand scheme of things.

With all of the above in mind, I’m going to tell you that the distinction between the Democrats and Republicans has never been so obviously clear.

 

A lot of my friends have some valid criticisms of the Democratic Party. I myself have valid criticisms of the Democratic Party. But right now there is a golden opportunity for them, and the nation, in that the Dems don’t have a leader.

For good or for ill (and I think it’s both), the two people who dominated the landscape in 2016 are not leading. Hillary Clinton has no leadership position and no influence on things. Bernie Sanders goes his own distinctive way.

While not having a clear figurehead sometimes leads to disorganization, there is also a clear advantage. The Clinton-Sanders primary turned into a debate about ideas, and what I have witnessed since 2018 began is a competition, indeed a rapid-fire competition, among every Democrat younger than, say Chuck Schumer. And the endgame of this competition is simple: the winner is the one who can start making those ideas that caught the popular imagination in 2016 a reality. In this past year, I have seen statements and genuine policy proposals on the following:

– Both protection of the ACA and the steps that will get us to universal health care

– Job guarantees or UBI

– Tax reform that will genuinely benefit the lower and middle classes

– Climate issues

– Codifying civil rights protections into law

– Educational reform

– Electing state governors and attorneys general who will protect voting rights

– Most recently, the baby bonds plan

– Possibly even having a TRUE infrastructure week.

(Dave Weigel’s reporting in the Washington Post, by the way, is where I learned this, since unlike many political reporters, Weigel is on the ground constantly seeing what campaigns across the nation talk about.)

This is what the Democrats are running on: a series of ideas that will revitalize the social framework of the nation. And the people who best personify those ideas are going to be set up as power figures for 2020 and beyond following the increasingly inevitable change of the guard.

Moreover, you know so many of us rediscovered the civic virtue of calling, emailing, and writing to our representatives these past two years? Imagine calling your reps not to say “don’t vote for this” and saying “Vote for this, and possibly make it better” with a Democratic House (and slim chance but possibly Senate) majority? I like imagining that.

And what we end up with is not only a true check and balance in the government, but also a series of legislative positions that whoever ends up running for president in 2020 can campaign on as a great message.

Speaking of positions and messages, let’s turn to the Republicans.

 

Here I have a key question: WHAT are the Republicans running on?

Because when I engage with conservatives on twitter and look at what’s being covered in more right-wing-leaning media, the answer gets murky.

Health care? If they are, they’re doing so in the most confusing way possible. Candidates continually talk about protecting pre-existing conditions AT THE SAME TIME Republican officials are suing to eliminate the pre-existing conditions clause of the ACA, and a Texas judge actually has a ruling that he’s sitting on until after Election Day. And there’s also serious discussion about slashing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security coming from the Senate Majority Leader himself, which leads me to…

The Economy? It’s actually pretty good according to several indicators right now. However, there’s very little about the economy, and almost nothing about the vaunted tax reform bill from the winter that was supposed to be the cornerstone of the 2018 messaging. Because the GOP realized that the tax bill did nothing for the lower and middle classes and only bankrolled the wealthy…which is why Donald Trump is currently talking about pushing through another tax bill that doesn’t even exist. And the deficit has exploded so much that the party of small government has given us no reason to ever listen to fears about the deficit ever again.

The Judiciary? They’re confirming judges at hyperspeed, and Brett Kavanaugh was supposed to be a galvanizing force for the Republicans…which he was for a week during the hearings. But then the polling and forecasting for everywhere but the Senate returned to numbers as good as they’d ever been or better for the Democrats. Other polling has shown a lot of people couldn’t even tell you if their senators voted for or against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. (Personally, the same way that if Trump had worked on infrastructure and jobs as opposed to health care and taxes, then he would be in a better place right now…if the GOP had either waited until after the elections for the Supreme Court hearings or picked a new nominee, they would have been able to truly capitalize. They did not.)

The truth of the matter is that the Republicans have nothing. No agenda. (You can read this in more detail here.) But it’s somehow worse than having no agenda. For two reasons.

First, right now, beyond Robert Mueller, we have no idea what Donald Trump’s personal and business relationships are with so many entities around the world. The New York Times has created a clear picture of Trump committing tax fraud. His unilateral foreign policy moves are empowering China and Russia, which are not really friends of America, and propping up disastrous governments in Saudi Arabia and Israel. And the Republican Party is decidedly incurious about checking and balancing anything Trump does because he benefits them. The Democrats will actually provide congressional oversight.

Second, I won’t mince words. The Republican Party is the party that attracts the support of the Proud Boys and such. They are a party of “personal responsibility” that is increasingly determined to regulate the bodies of people and possibly deny civil rights. They have children in internment camps who have to represent themselves in court. Their candidates run race-baiting political ads. They are afraid of the opposition so much that they project everything about themselves onto the opposition and ratchet up fear, to the point where baby boomers in Minnesota are convinced Hispanic gang members will occupy their lake houses.

(Seriously, I read that article this week.)

This is to hide the lack of a real agenda. The lack of a pan to fairly govern all and value democracy.

 

The Democrats (especially the rising new generations of Democrats) have something to offer.

The Republicans have nothing to offer.
The choice in my mind is clear. And I hope this makes sense for many of you as well.

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