Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Promoting Government



I think they do know.


The motivation isn't the same with each member of the House Republican caucus who is inviting chaos.  Many represent districts which are extremely conservative, in which the incumbent faces greater danger of losing his or her seat from a primary challenge from an even more ridiculous Republican than the member does in a general election. And most welcome the additional campaign contributions they know will come their way if a reckless, radical, and ruinous (alliteration day!) proposal is made or path followed.

Nonetheless, there is an additional reason.  They believe impeachment proceedings and shutting down the government makes government look dysfunctional and incompetent. And they know that government, especially on the national level, is associated with the Democratic Party. When government is seen as ineffectual, the default position is to conclude Democrats are responsible (or, rather, irresponsible). If Congress and the presidency are controlled by the GOP, blame can be credibly laid at the feet of Republicans. However, if power appears split in Washington, Democrats must do a yeoman's job to convince voters that it is Republicans who are disruptive and destructive. 

It's almost inevitable that Democrats would be held responsible in the short term or the medium term for the perception of failure or success of government. Therefore, it's critical that the public recognize that government is both desirable and necessary.   "The era of big government is over," President William Jefferson Clinton once insisted, thereby suggesting the superfluousness of government. 

Chris McGreal of The Guardian recently traveled to Dayton to understand the problems Democrats face in appealing to the voters, especially those of the working-class, in the once-swing state of Ohio. Among those he spoke to were Fred Strahorn, once a member of the Ohio House of Representatives and minority leader of the state's General Assembly.  Strahorn 

said there would be no quick comeback for the party in Ohio and that ultimately winning voters’ confidence was a long game. He wants the Democrats to have the courage to embrace what he regards as one of the party’s greatest strengths, defence of government as a means to improve people’s lives.

He said the party had become afraid of doing it in the face of relentless Republican attacks blaming people’s problems on “big government”, a strategy reinforced by Democrats in Congress who serve the interests of corporations.

“One of the failures, multi decades long, is not telling people what government does for them and remind them on a regular basis, so they’re not so easily turned against it. We’ve not defended government, not really explained all the things that government does that you actually like, want and use,” he said.

“Therefore when somebody comes along and takes a swack at it, it’s easy for people to believe because they never hear anything but that. If you don’t counter that it really makes it hard for that electorate to see you as somebody who’s trying to help them because you haven’t explained how that works. That’s your battleground.”

Republicans have a narrative, which they consistently tout and the media finds agreeable, that government only interferes with the initiative, productivity, and general wonderfulness of individuals. Individual Democrats boast, as they should, about what they individually have done to improve the lives of individuals and families, or what the President of their party has done. However, they recoil from the thought of making clear that government has in any way improved their lot in life and avoid contradicting GOP claims of the evil it doe.

They even occasionally slam Donald Trump by lauding President Ronald Reagan, he who undermined the public's faith and trust in the federal government with the famous "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help,'" 

Aside from- possibly- his own family, there are three people Kevin McCarthy cares about: 1) Kevin McCarthy; 2) Kevin McCarthy; and 3) Kevin McCarthy. So McCarthy is trying to save his own skin by threatening to shut down the government. But he also knows he does it against a backdrop of nearly forty years of one side tearing down government and the other side refusing to fight back..




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