In just over 7 months, the Democrats will face their constituents in the midterm elections — and the voters are in a surly mood. Most polls suggest this dissatisfaction is about the state of the economy combined with a sense that, under President Biden and the Democrats, the country is careening from crisis to crisis. The latest Quinnipiac survey, for example, shows that only 36 percent of voters approve of the way Biden has handled the economy, and that inflation is their most urgent concern. According to the latest Morning Consult poll, 70 percent of voters believe the country is on the wrong track.
These numbers portend a major midterm loss for the Democrats when combined with the generic congressional ballot which, according to the RealClearPolitics average, favors the GOP. Historically, this wouldn’t be unusual. The President’s party almost always suffers losses in the first midterm of his tenure. The only exceptions occurred in 1934 and 2002. Consequently, the Democrats shouldn’t be surprised to find themselves on the verge of losing their tiny congressional majorities. Yet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a disturbing claim during a recent interview with Time magazine’s Molly Ball, who posed the following question:
We’ve got a midterm election this year. Most people are saying it doesn’t look very good for your party. How do you see the midterms going, and what do you see as the potential consequences if Democrats lose Congress?
Pelosi’s answer won’t reassure voters who think she will stop at nothing to stay in power:
I don’t have any intention of the Democrats losing.… It is absolutely essential for our democracy that we win. I fear for our democracy if the Republicans were ever to get the gavel. We can’t let that happen. Democracy is on the ballot in November.
There’s more here than the usual bombast we get from politicians who think their party is about to lose an election. She didn’t say the GOP will enact bad policies if they win. She suggests that democracy itself will die if the Republicans “were ever to get the gavel.” Pelosi no longer thinks of an election between Democrats and Republicans as a competition between two parties with differing views on the best way to govern the country. She has adopted the far left position that elections are properly viewed as Manichean struggles between good and evil. It goes without saying, of course, that the Republicans represent the forces of darkness.
The adoption of this Manichean approach to politics by the Speaker of the House — third in the presidential line of succession — is no laughing matter. It endows Pelosi with a sense of moral superiority that justifies virtually anything it takes to win—including the othering of half the electorate and the criminalization of political opponents. The textbook example of othering voters was, of course, provided by Hillary Clinton’s infamous “deplorables” speech, and it continues apace among Democrats and in the corporate media. Writing in Salon just four months ago, Chauncey DeVega declared, “Hillary was right about the ‘deplorables’.”
Clinton’s description was in fact about much more than the disreputable people who flocked to Trump’s banner. It was also a warning about the regressive politics and antisocial values that Trump’s followers represented (and still do), including cruelty, racism and white supremacy, sexism and misogyny, collective narcissism, anti-intellectualism, an infatuation with violence, proud ignorance and support for fascism and authoritarianism … her diagnosis of Trump and his movement’ was overwhelmingly correct.
As to criminalizing political opponents, the New York Times reports that members of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 “insurrection” are growing increasingly frustrated with what they see as the Justice Department’s dilatory response to their criminal referrals: “The panel is working with a sense of urgency to build its case ahead of this year’s midterm elections.” Attorney General Merrick Garland is facing a lot of pressure from House Democrats and the Biden administration to act. Garland’s reticence, however, may be about his concern that the committee is a partisan cudgel rather than a legitimate investigative body.
Predictably, the inquiry has steadily metastasized into a McCarthyite inquisition based on the proposition that former President Trump and a long list of “far right” figures were involved in a criminal conspiracy to undermine the results of the 2020 election. According to the Times, the suspected conspirators include Republican members of Congress, former White House officials, the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice, conservative media personalities, informal Trump advisors, outside lawyers, and various “extremist” groups. It’s probably fair to say that this committee is far more sinister than anything that occurred on Jan. 6.
If all of this seems to exude a familiar stench, it isn’t an olfactory hallucination. It’s just more malodorous smog from the distraction factory that produced the Russia collusion hoax. The Democrats are about to lose their congressional majorities, and they are polluting our politics with a good vs. evil narrative in the hope of obscuring their myriad failures from the voters. When Nancy Pelosi says she fears for our democracy if the GOP retakes Congress, what she’s really worried about is losing power. Pelosi will do and say anything to avoid that, even if it means actively undermining the legitimacy of the November midterm elections.