NRCC's 'Socialism Madness' Ad Will Scare Stupid People S**less
There's an invisible plague spreading across the nation, and our leaders seem defenseless to stop it. No, we're not talking about the coronavirus. We mean socialism — big bad, scary socialism. Fortunately for all Americans who don't enjoy bread lines, the Republican Party is here to save us from an overhyped, toothless enemy.
The National Republican Congressional Committee just released a video titled "We Never Back Down from a Fight." It confronts the scourge of socialism with the sobriety of your classic anti-marijuana and anti-robot sex propaganda films. Like all horror movies, it begins with four women of color who were elected to Congress in 2018: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib. The narrator, who you can almost hear pissing his pants as he speaks, declares that this "wasn't what America voted for" — although, that is exactly what some Americans voted for and the Squad can prove it. Women of color can't just show up at the Capitol without a long-form copy of their election results.
The theory here is that the "so-called Squad" is "bullying Democrats into socialism." After a clip of Pressley declaring, "the tectonic plates of revolution shift below our feet," we see a clip of a Venezuelan president, who I don't think was on any US ballot in 2018. The video argues that the Left "sneered" when noble Republicans "called them out" with rusty Red Scare rhetoric. (The "Left" also apparently includes former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele, who is shown laughing at the GOP's fixation on socialism, in lieu of actual policies.)
The NRCC, however, is "fighting back," which is something that Democrats apparently never saw coming. They never factored into their evil schemes that Republicans exist. We're shown selective results from special elects that Republicans won — like the nail biter in North Carolina's Ninth District. American disgust with socialism helped rally Republican Dan Bishop to a whopping two-point victory in a district that has a 14 point GOP partisan lean. The NRCC also spent millions on the race that literally only existed because the previous Republican candidate in the 2018 midterm committed election fraud. Republicans are also proud of Fred Keller's decisive 2019 victory to replace incumbent Tom Marino in another longtime GOP district. Greg Murphy also crushed Democrat Allen Thomas in a special election to replace an incumbent who died in office. The specter of the Squad did not drive Republicans to the polls in greater numbers in these already deep-red districts.
Arguably, the ad's most repulsive moment is when it revels in Katie Hill's resignation from the House and implies that it was somehow related to socialism, instead of a calculated Republican hit job enabled by her scumbag ex-husband.
It's only halfway through the damn video that we see House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is an actual Democratic Party leader. She is presented as mostly feckless and passive against the rising tide of brown women and their unruly socialism. The narrator declares that Democrats are "feeling the Bern," and that's the problem with this whole ad and the GOP's 2020 strategy. It's predicated on Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee with — I dunno — Omar or Tlaib (whichever Muslim woman is scarier in Ohio) as his running mate. Look, this primary isn't technically over. People should still go out and vote because every vote counts. However, there's a very compelling chance that Joe Biden will win the primary. He's our supposedly safe, normal "electable" candidate. You can't run a sky is falling campaign against Uncle Joe! Well, maybe you can't. NRCC Chair Tom Emmer told party leaders at a GOP retreat in Maryland that the 2020 message will remain the same regardless of who tops the Democratic presidential ticket. That seems odd because Biden and Sanders are very different candidates. Sure, they're both better than Trump, but Biden isn't a socialist, not even a democratic one (to the extent anyone makes that distinction). The scariest image they can find of Biden is him saying he'll raise taxes, but Republicans have accused far more boring Democrats of coming for our wallets over the past 50 years. It's not new.
The NRCC doesn't want to run against an actual candidate but instead a collection of traits they believe Americans distrust and resent. And just so no one accuses them of racism because of their continued demonization of Democratic women of color, the NRCC claims it's running an unbelievable number of women and minorities for office this year. The numbers they give are literally unbelievable. I might've wasted almost four minutes of my life watching this video, but I'm not that stupid.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."