What? Beltway Idiots Might Have Gotten Midterms And Voter Rage About Abortion All Wrong? WHAAAT?
Lotta primaries happened last night in the US and A.
Jerry Nadler beat Carolyn Maloney in their primary in New York's 12th Congressional District, a contest that happened because of redistricting.
A bunch of candidates competing in New York's 10th meant sitting Congressman Mondaire Jones came in third place in his primary, beaten by Trump impeachment lawyer extraordinaire Dan Goldman. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney cleaned house in his primary in his new 17th District.
Oh, and also in Florida, assbonkers extremist Laura Loomer
lost her primaryIS A WINNER. (Just not in the traditional sense of the word.)
But the contest getting the most attention, perhaps, was not a primary. It was the special general election in New York's 19th Congressional District, a swing-y place in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills where, according to the conventional Beltway wisdom, Republican Marc Molinaro was supposed to win. He did not. Instead a nice Democratic man named Pat Ryan won, by about two points. As Politico reported, Pat Ryan's messaging was about holy shit the Supreme court is out of control, we have to protect abortion, and so forth. Molinaro blabbed meanwhile about crime and inflation.
Ryan actually did better in his race than Joe Biden did in 2020 in that district. Which seems to be following a trend ever since Samuel Alito stuck his greedy fingers into all the Americans' underpants and started sewing "Baby On Board" signs into them:
\u201cDemocrats have now outperformed Biden's numbers in each of the four U.S. House special elections since the Dobbs decision in June.\n\n#NE01 - Trump +15 -> R+5\n#MN01 - Trump +10 -> R+4\n#NY19 - Biden +1.5 -> D+2.2\n#NY23 - Trump +11 -> R+6\u201d— Ryan Matsumoto (@Ryan Matsumoto) 1661312673
But wait, doesn't conventional Beltway wisdom say that a new president's first midterms are BY AMERICAN LAW supposed to be a total shellackin'? Haven't all the polls said Joe Biden is very unpopular and terrible and not near enough Brandon for Real America's liking? When you stick Chris Cillizza's head up Chuck Todd's butt and Chuck Todd's head up Chris Cillizza's butt and then spin them around in a circle like that big wheel on "The Price Is Right," doesn't it say that OBVIOUSLY 2022 is the Republicans' BIG YEAR?
Oh yeah, and didn't America's dumbfuckingest pundits tell us over and over again after the Dobbs decision that abortion really wasn't going to move the needle all that much?
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent spoke to Mr. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner Himself, Pat Ryan, to get a sense of what that guy did, and what he was hearing from his new constituents. Surprise, it sounds like literally everything Beltway journalists thought was wrong, that Democrats are far more engaged than people may yet understand because of what the Supreme Court did, and that centering abortion is indeed a winning ticket for Democrats.
But it sounds like Ryan was also really good at contextualizing it:
“We centered the concept of freedom,” Ryan told me in an interview. “When rights and freedoms are being taken away from people,” he said, they “stand up and fight.” Ryan said that for voters, the decision “ripping away reproductive rights from tens of millions of people” was “visceral.”
Meanwhile, Sargent links to Dave Weigel, who reports that Ryan's opponent Molinaro tried to hide from abortion and even tried to give New York voters assurances that you could still get abortions there.
But voters were savvier than that:
Ryan said that at a recent event involving voters from two of the district’s more rural counties, audience members were asked to submit questions. “The number one question people asked was about choice,” Ryan, the Ulster County executive, told me. He said voters regularly brought up GOP calls for a national abortion ban “unprompted.”
Oh, we guess voters are hearing Republicans talking out loud about banning abortion nationwide, and they are not liking what they are hearing.
Frankly, it sounds like voters are hearing Republicans loud and clear on a number of issues. They won't do anything to stop kids from getting murdered at school, but they sure are willing to cling to loser fantasies about stolen elections in their pursuit of power they did not earn and have not been granted by voters. Read this entire block quote:
Ryan said the “visceral” reaction of voters isn’t just about abortion. While he said inflation and economic pain continue to weigh heavily, he also encountered voter angst about gun violence, ongoing threats to democracy, and the insurrection attempt incited by Donald Trump.
“People care about safety,” Ryan told me. “I have a 3-year-old and a 7-month-old. I have to drop them at day care and worry that they’re going to get gunned down by the same assault rifle I carried in combat for 27 months.”
Ryan also cited a recent poll showing that a top issue for voters has become threats to democracy. When he saw that poll, he said to himself, “That is exactly what I’m feeling on the ground.”
There is a strange assumption underlying much punditry that inflation and gas prices are more “real” and “authentic” for voters than these other issues. But the radicalization of Republicans is also a factor, Ryan suggested, citing gun violence, voting rights and reproductive rights as “foundational” for people.
“There’s sort of this power grab of the far, far right,” Ryan told me. “It’s just wildly out of step with where the vast majority of Americans are.”
It's almost like voters are really, finally, at last seeing Republicans' true colors. Republican policies and beliefs haven't fundamentally changed in the last 50 years — what? You think guttural racism, white nationalism, misogyny, anti-LGBTQ hatred, gun-humping and stealing/rigging elections are somehow new for them? Fuck off — but starting with Donald Trump's walk down that escalator in 2015, the masks have fully come off.
Sargent asked Ryan if he thinks Democrats should run on codifying abortion in federal law. The response:
He said it should, while suggesting Democrats should link this to “the fight for freedom on multiple fronts,” under an umbrella argument that Republicans will make us “less safe” and “less free.”
Ryan suggested Democrats should also try to reclaim the idea of patriotism. “Patriotism to me means, when your fellow Americans’ rights are being taken away, you stand up and fight, not just for yourself, but for them as well.”
Well, all of that just makes a shitload of sense to us.
None of this means we can sit on our laurels between now and November. The House is still gerrymandered to fuck and the courts are so stacked with the partisan hack appointees of a Republican seditionist there's little hope they'll do anything to support democracy until a solid generation of the federal judiciary dies of old age. The Senate is a fundamentally un-democratic body that was designed to protect the precious rights of slave states and not much has changed about that in our nation's history, ever.
But we may well have something to fight for in November, and Democratic hopes that "Roe-vember" is coming might be more real than any Beltway pundit or Republican is prepared to understand.
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