I've been contemplating how to write this post for a while. I wanted to let the dust settle a bit and see how the media coverage plays out and see if there are any emerging trend lines out there in the zeitgeist/internet hive mind that might translate into something tangible come November and to be honest, I don't know if I can hang my hat on anything concrete.
It's entirely possible that inflation and gas prices plus the historical pattern of midterm elections all hold true come November. I feel like voters are frustrated at the turgidity of both Congress and the Biden Administration on any number of issues and if there's no serious relief of something, somewhere come the fall then, try as the media might, I expect pocketbook issues to take center stage once the serious campaigning starts. (Hopefully: Biden comes through on some kind of student loan forgiveness AND they fix the impending Obamacare Subsidies disaster at a minimum, but it would be very nice- and not just for my own economic self-interest, but because a policy that does what the government does best, which is cutting checks and sending them to people is a win- I don't care what the polling says- if the Child Tax Credit/Allowance came back in some form or another.)
So, I think there's a decent possibility that the landscape may look a little less gloomy for Democrats come fall. I think they're still going to be running into headwinds, but I would say there's a non-zero chance this ends up being less of a wipeout than predicted. Of course, if the economy slips into a recession- even a mild one, I think the crabbiness of voters will remain unmoved and the Red Wave could well be manifested into being.
The potential x-factor in all of this, of course, is the fallout from the Dobbs Decision. I don't think it's going to have been long enough to see serious data on reaction to the decision emerge. I think the majority of the electorate probably doesn't like it, but there's fairly strong evidence that abortion as an issue isn't as salient as it used to be and if gas and prices remain high into the fall, basic pocketbook issues could drown it out.
Right now, I'm seeing lots of stuff on social media. Chronically ill folks are being denied meds because they're potentially used for abortions (methotrexate for lupus, something for pulmonary hypertension)-- I also saw a TikTok from a pro-life Ob-Gyn float by me that insisted that people were being misinformed and that she'd be treating ectopics at a pro-life hospital for years now without issue, but I've also seen Twitter threads about a woman who needed a lawyer and a hospital ethics committee to figure out what the law meant and basically ruptured, filled up with blood and nearly died while people were trying to figure out just what the hell they could or couldn't do.
I think Dobbs might be a case of the dog catching the car for the pro-life movement, just in slow motion, if that makes sense. I think in 2024, you're going to see real impacts on real people from laws that are either horribly written or massively misinterpreted either for malicious reasons (to score political points) or by overzealous hospitals who just don't want to deal with the potential liability. If there's any immediate fallout, I think you might see a patchwork of results. I think it's likely to be a factor in turnout in some Blue States- maybe even purplish ones but this is now a state-by-state fight which begs a rather more concerning question for the Democratic establishment: are they up for it?
An interesting hypothesis I've seen float by now and again is that America's problems in the current moment largely stem from the Left having outsized cultural power and the Right having outsized political power. It's fundamentally imbalanced and it's a problem more for the Left than the right because when the media/cultural centers of power are all clustered in the Blue States on the coast, they tend to fall into ideological purity traps or have a problem with navel-gazing. See: this Tweet thread. (Also: this.)
Other than the obvious things to be angry about with the Dobbs decision: the massive intrusion of government into people's private lives, the blatantly ignoring of an entire Amendment of the Constitution that would be very relevant to the topic at hand as well as frankly ignorant notions about adoption (Justice Barrett) or invitations to throw up cases to potentially overturn Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergerfell* (Justice Thomas) or just the general rage-inducing step backward for women and women's health care in this country (I'm sure there are more reasons, but these are just a few I can come up with off the top of my head) the reaction of the Democratic establishment is under-discussed, to say the least.
Exhibit A: Nancy Pelosi read a poem.
Exhibit B: Some members of Congress had a sing-a-long
(Do you feel better? Because I do! The Democrats are on it, y'all.)
Exhibit C: This dude climbed a bridge
Exhibit D: This other dude drops some truth bombs. (He also exposes a fundamental problem of the two-party system: both parties keep issues alive for fundraising and to rile up their respective bases-- so things like say, codifying Roe, aren't seen as priorities because if they actually solve the problem, they lose the issue. GOPers are similar on guns and a few other cultural issues.)
The draft leaked over a month before the decision was released and I am underwhelmed, to say the least. I don't think they're up for this fight. I would like to be proven wrong, but so far... not seeing anything indicating otherwise.
If the Democrats lose their razor-thin majorities that they're doing fuck all with at the moment in November, then the entire leadership needs to step down. Pelosi, Schumer, Hoyer... all of them gotta go. Progressives, if they'd like to do something for once, need to stop saying they're going to not vote for Pelosi and actually insist upon her retirement with a firm 'thank you for your service' and a strapping young man to escort her gently, but firmly to a waiting seat on the back benches- if not out the door of Congress entirely.
Why a clean sweep?
Exhibit E: This clip is from across the Pond, prior to the delightful knife fight that lead to the appropriately called Clownfall of Boris Johnson earlier this week. Notice a stark difference in the deputy leaders of the UK's two biggest parties? They're not Senior Citizens! Holy fuck, how refreshing that is! Look at Angela Rayner! She's enjoying this. She's energetic. She's hitting the Tories over the head repeatedly and relishing every minute of it! And Raab may come across as a smarmy prick, but he's giving as good as he gets! Youth! Energy! What revolutionary concepts! The Democrats are in desperate need of both, if for no other reason than Joe Biden is President and it'd be nice to have someone not, you know, born in FDR's 3rd term as the face of your party.
Assuming you can eject the Senior Citizens from Leadership, then what? Then you need to swallow your pride, examine your biases and prejudices, and then invest time, energy, and money into electing Democrats in all fifty states. Win state legislatures. Win governorships. Win Senate seats and Congressional seats. Win ballot initiatives. Win mayoralties. Win City Councils. Every problem that the Twitterati bemoan that exists with our democracy? All of them can be fixed if you build a party that can win everywhere.
If you can figure out how to do that, then you'll be the real majority. You may not be as ideologically pure as your base wants you to be. You may have to sacrifice things your base wants. But you'll be in charge and you'll be able to fix things.
And that's more than the Democratic Establishment seems to be interested in doing right now.
*Do I think Lawrence, Griswold, Obergerfell, etc. are in peril? In general... I don't know. The problem with SCOTUS is what it means Justices can say whatever they want and do something else entirely. After Dobbs, I, as a straight, white cis-gendered male, have absolutely no reason to take them at their word and if I was say, a woman, or LGBTQ+, I really wouldn't trust them either. My gut- which is a terrible thing to base this on, says that there's no way they're going to overturn gay marriage. I think a national abortion ban is probably a long shot as well. I think anti-sodomy laws are unenforceable, to begin with- but again: I don't have any reason to trust SCOTUS and neither should anyone else. Laws, while potentially imperfect and probably not pleasing to everyone are at least durable. You can also hold lawmakers accountable. SCOTUS justices not so much.
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