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The Midterms Are Coming

I never watched “Game of Thrones,” but I am familiar with the ominous phrase from the show, “Winter is Coming.” I won’t write more about that, because my ignorance about the series would make me look silly. But I would see it, maybe in previews of upcoming episodes, or online; and it always seemed to me to be about more than the show, in some sense a warning about the real world, even if not intended.

It has felt like that to me, as we try to stave off the fascist state which far too many people seem to be working toward. This is not like twenty or thirty years ago, where I and my family would follow politics and elections closely; but as much as we cared, and got upset when our side lost, it did not feel like the end, but just a chapter in a continuing story, with lessons which we could learn from, as we tried to do better as a Democratic Party and a nation.

Things have changed, or maybe just predictably evolved, so much, that now it seems that we are a short step from losing America forever. I don’t need to go over all the things which have happened, as the Republicans have slithered from Gingrich’s evil “Contract with America,” to lying the country into a war; to the “Tea Party”; to Trump and MAGA, and a whole bunch of people sounding like Mussolini and Hitler, and reveling in it.

And of course the attempted coup, which if successful, and I think it almost was, would very possibly have brought a dictatorship, with control of the Executive Branch, DOJ, the Courts, local law enforcement, and the media, all in the hands of complete autocrats. And as we know, the Republicans are running a slew of election deniers, people who are determined to override people’s votes by having the corrupt state legislatures simply declare them the winners, over and over.

So in some real sense, I dread the upcoming election. Because the Republicans have become so evil, that I don’t think we can live with even a partial takeover of the country by them. And how likely is it that Democrats can hold both the House and Senate, not only this time, but for so long that the fascists cannot complete their goal of turning this country into some kind of Fundamentalist Theocratic dictatorship which cannot be reversed?

I hesitate to go into this too much in depth, because I do not want to depress everyone, or myself. But I think we all know that if this group of people who call themselves Republicans get hold of any lever of power, any one of the branches of power, they will wreak havoc upon it. Even just winning the House means that they will spend all their time holding hearings intended to destroy President Biden’s image, and render him unelectable. They will impeach him. They will impugn his integrity and his morals. They will have hearings on Hunter Biden, and attempt to tie them together. They will perhaps try to throw Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic House leaders out of the Congress. Their hearings will be part destructive revenge for the hearings on Trump; and like the endless Hillary hearings, a course intended to cause their right-wing media networks to have fodder for daily attacks on all Democrats.

I think this is a certainty, even if they have the smallest of House margins. So rather than spool this all out, I would rather look at the prospects for the midterms, and what kind of chance we have to prevent this.

I can read polls, as we all can do. I can try to extrapolate from what is going on in the country, and from what I know about recent elections. In general, things looked bad a couple of months ago; then they turned around. Most of that was due to the “Dobbs” decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade. We have seen some remarkable results, where Democrats have surprised, as in recent New York elections, or where abortion rights voters have swamped their opponents, as in Kansas.

We have also seen Biden look better, through passing important legislation. This all combined to push Democrats to leading, albeit slightly, in the generic Congressional polls.

Of course, there is a large difference between House and Senate races. Senate races cannot be gerrymandered. Over the last few decades. Republicans have run amok in gerrymandering, turning 50-50 states into 65% or more Republican districts. I just read where in Georgia, a 50-50 state, where Biden won, Abrams came close to winning four years ago, and there are now two Democratic Senators, the Republicans in the state legislature wrote maps which give them about a 70% advantage; and after winding through the courts, it was held that it was too close to the midterms to reform the districts, that will have to wait until next year.

Despite the immense efforts of Marc Elias and his group, and others, there is no question that Republicans have given themselves 10-15 extra seats through gerrymandering. In New York, where the Democrats actually tried to gerrymander, the courts threw the map out. It is a game which Democrats seem either unequipped to win, or are prevented from winning by the fairness of their own appointees.

So what are the chances that we somehow hold the House? The oddsmakers have us about 20% likely to do it. This week’s inflation numbers, not awful, are yet easily turned into negatives, because .1% more inflation sounds so much worse than .1% less inflation. That was unfortunate, we needed a break there.

I don’t see why Biden (who is not on the ballot), and Democrats are blamed for inflation, but they are. Try explaining economics to average voters. And the recent bill will help, but not in time for the elections.. We need to depend on a massive abortion rights vote. Lindsey Graham may have helped by announcing support for a national ban on abortions after 15 weeks. Now such a bill, if passed, would be vetoed by Biden. but apparently Graham thinks this will galvanize the anti-abortion people.

We know that a billionaire actually gave Leonard Leo’s Heritage Foundation $1.3 billion toward Senate races. There are a lot of lying ads that can be written and shown hourly, with that kind of money. In most of the last Senate election cycles, Republican candidates have gained ground in the last few weeks of the campaign, and this has to be attributed to the massive funds which Republicans have to pour into their candidates’ campaigns.

Just to try to take reasonable guesses now, obviously the Senate chances look better than in the House. I would see us picking up Pennsylvania with Fetterman. I think that Barnes can hold off Johnson in Wisconsin. Beasley can win in North Carolina. Those are three seats to pick up. Unfortunately, I don’t think that Ryan will beat Vance in a state where Republicans have been winning almost all races, except for Sherrod Brown being able to keep his Senate seat. And I don’t think that Val Demings can defeat the truly despicable Marco Rubio, not in Florida.

On the other side, I think that Kelly can keep his seat in Arizona. Also Hassan in New Hampshire. But I am afraid that we will lose in Nevada. And somehow it seems that Walker may win in Georgia. I hope my friend GA6thDem can have better news on that race.

So of course I am just surmising; and I would want the chance to make predictions closer to the election, but I would see us picking up 1 to 2 Senate seats. Winning the House is unlikely. It would take an inflation report in October which is relatively positive. No increase in gas prices. Enough campaign funds to at least counter the billions which the Republicans will have.

And somehow an amazing turnout for “Roevember,” higher even than the registration numbers we are seeing now. The highest Democratic turnout in a midterm ever. It will take that, to not lose the five or more seats which would give Republicans control of the House.

Also, do not neglect crucial state races. There are four governor’s races that we have to win. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona. Those are states we must win in 2024, and we cannot afford to have the awful candidates the Republicans are running in those states have control of the election process. Cannot! We need Shapiro, Whitmer (and her two colleagues Benson and Nessel), Evers, and Hobbs to win. Abrams would be great, but I am not confident.

And for the first time since the days of pulling levers, Democratic voters have to vote for every Democrat downticket. Surely they must have learned by now, that putting any Republican in office is a blueprint for losing democracy.

The midterms are coming, like it or not. We have to do what we can, in different ways, and we have to hope for the very best. I remember Falstaff’s poignant line before having to go to battle, in “Henry IV, Part 1, “I would ’twere bedtime, and all well.”