This is the second half of a piece of which the first half — “A ‘Vote Democratic to Save Our Democracy’ Tour (by Prominent, Lifelong Republicans” — introduced an idea that might help magnify the Blue Wave that America so urgently needs.
Part of the premise of the idea was that many Democratic candidates — whether rightly or wrongly — seem reluctant to campaign on the central political truth of these times– the Trump and Trump Party crisis. Another premise is that not doing everything possible to use this election campaign to get as many Americans as possible to see this truth is dangerously to squander a vital opportunity.
The idea I proposed to address that problem was this: to get some of the well-known conservatives who have recognized the threat to our constitutional order posed by their own GOP, and who have already publicly called for voters to put the Democrats in control of Congress, to go all out and conduct a “campaign” for this 2018 midterms to help achieve what they have declared is vital to achieve.
Such a group, wielding the right message, might be the most effective in targeting all those Republicans unhappy with what their party has become, and all those swing voters who might vote Republican, or not vote at all.
Here, as promised, is a fleshing out of that argument.
The United States is in a crisis in which the survival of its essence as a free society, “a nation of laws, not of men,” is at stake. The threat comes from this lawless Republican President, and from the Republicans in Congress that have chosen to protect that president in violation of their oath of office.
The upcoming 2018 mid-term elections are of enormous importance. (Rosie O’Donnell was eloquent on television the other day saying that with this election “we will either save our democracy or we’ll lose it.”)
These elections represent a major battle in a wider political war between the defenders of the American constitutional order and a lawless force animated by greed and the lust for power and that is driving this nation toward the kind of corruption and authoritarianism America’s founders sought to prevent.
To win this battle that may be as important as any of our history for the defense of basic American values, the immediate task is to move as large a portion of the American electorate as possible away from the Republicans and toward the Democrats.
Which means, I propose, getting as many Americans as possible to see this battle for what it is.
But, as I argued in the first part of this two-part piece, a lot of Democrats – for some reasons that may be sound, and for some reasons that have long been a source of Democratic weakness — don’t want to focus their campaigns on the main story of this political moment.
They’d apparently rather leave it to the news media to activate the anti-Trump vote that has lifted up Democratic performance in so many recent special elections.
But that leaves a whole lot of voters who don’t hear that news, and need some other source of persuasion to motivate them to repudiate the Republicans and turn to the Democrats. There are a great many Americans — besides those unreachable people in the right-wing trance state — who don’t understand how helping the Blue Wave is what American patriotism requires at this extraordinary moment, when only one of our two major parties stands for our constitutional order and other basic American values.
Fortunately, there is a possible “other source of persuasion” that might reach those people: some very prominent, principled, lifelong Republicans see this crisis for what it is, and have called for Republicans to vote Democratic in this election. E.g.
• Steve Schmidt, who ran the campaign of Republican Presidential nominee John McCain says that, in view of “the threat posed by [the Republican Party,” “the Democratic Party is called to be the sentinel of American democracy and liberty,”
• George Will – arguably Mr. Conservative among pundits for the past 40 years – says, in view of “the carnage of Republican misrule in Washington,” voters must see to it that the Republicans are “reduced to minorities” in Congress.
• Two conservatives – Benjamin Wittes and Jonathan Rauch – call for voters to vote a “straight Democratic ticket,” rejecting all Republicans because “the rule of law is a threshold value in American politics” and the Republican Party has disqualified itself by threatening that value.
• Jennifer Rubin, conservative columnist for the Washington Post, has repeatedly called out the Republicans in Congress for their utter dereliction of duty, and affirmed the need for Democrats to provide the necessary check on this President.
• Max Boot, one of Senator McCain’s foreign policy advisors, declares himself in favor of “a Democratic takeover of both houses in November. Like postwar Germany and Japan, the Republican Party must first be destroyed before it can be rebuilt.”
By virtue of their long-standing Republican loyalties, combined with what they understand about this crisis, these people could fulfill a most important role in the coming campaign season.
First, unlike Democrats who might paint the same picture of the threat from this Trump Party, their words would not be so easily dismissed as purely “partisan” rhetoric. Their calls for a Blue Wave will be more credible to voters outside the Democratic orbit.
Second, if they got the media attention for their message that I believe is achievable, those Democratic candidates who don’t want to campaign in on this urgent crisis would be freed up to run on their “winning” issues without leaving untold the important political truth of this moment.
It could be a beneficial division of labor:
The Democrats get to focus on delivering good news, and to seem appealing. (Which is what the widely respected Charlie Cook says would serve the Democrats best.)
And while the Democratic candidates are the good guys offering a positive vision, the principled Republicans broadcast out the unsettling call to arms about our national crisis so that it reaches other principled Republicans, and everyone else who watches the local news.
How can these prominent, principled Republicans best help achieve the transfer of power from Republicans to Democrats that they themselves have said the nation needs?
There may well be a better answer to that question, but for what it’s worth, here’s how I envision the “campaign” that group could run:
1) They should form a “team” that tours the nation, delivering some kind of performance and executing a well-crafted media strategy.
2) This team need not consist only of these well-known conservative pundits and Republican experts. They can also choose to include others (maybe liberals like Bill Moyers, maybe military people like Barry McCaffrey, …) Whatever composition would yield the most effective performance and grab the most media attention.
3) The performance should be designed for most effective persuasion of the persuadable among those not yet persuaded that the nation needs for Democrats to win this November.
(Perhaps effective: conservatives should see voting for Democrats less as supporting a political party than as using the sole available instrument we Americans now have for preserving the America that our founders gave us.
(Possible format: each of them, in turn, telling the audience what they think the audience needs to hear, to see, to do. An hour to an hour-and-a-half in duration.)
4) The media strategy should be designed to get the most attention possible to the most effective message possible to reach as wide a swath of the target audience as possible. A big press conference at the launch of this “campaign”; each appearance in every venue around the nation designed to get on the local news.
5) It would be good for this campaign to have a catchy, punchy name that is in itself an effective message. I’ve come up with a few possibilities, but am sold on none of them:
- “Vote Democratic to Save our Democracy”
- “This Year, Nation Ahead of Party”
- “The Patriotic Vote this Year is for a Blue Wave”
- “Vote to Restore Checks and Balances”
Even if it were to be granted that this idea is potentially political dynamite, the question arises of what can be done so that those prominent Republicans who could make up that “team” will implement it?
Doubtless, many reading this will be skeptical about that possibility, and maybe that skepticism is warranted.
But on the other hand: if these prominent Republicans truly do believe what they’ve said — that their country is in great danger, and that electing Democrats this year is necessary to protect the essence of the America they love — and if were to see how they might actually play an important, even historic role in saving the nation by devoting a couple of months to doing what they more than anyone else can do— why would they not be willing? (“Now is the time for all good men….”)
One immediate obstacle that must be overcome: getting this idea to the attention of those people.
I intend to do what I can, however limited that may be. If anyone reading this likes the idea and is in a position to help get this idea in front of the likes of Schmidt, Will, Rubin, etc., please do.