Survival Journalism

Op-Ed

Final Pre-Election Report from PA-18

 

Greetings once again from The Next Big Test in America’s effort to return to a state of sanity.  If you haven’t been keeping tabs, next Tuesday’s Congressional Special Election will determine who represents the “virtual district” until the end of the year when, because the gerrymandered districts of Pennsylvania have been redrawn by the State Supreme Court, neither candidate will reside in it.  Republicans have poured massive amounts of money into the race in an effort to hold the Republican seat for a few months.  Unions have been re-energized and are aggressively campaigning to turn it blue.  Meanwhile, in May, the winning candidate (and probably the loser, as well) will be compelled to compete in another primary in another district.

            In what has become the American political tradition, as the race has tightened it has become profoundly more negative.  Unlike the Age of Reagan, in which the Republican approach was seemingly to confuse less well-informed voters into believing Republicans shared their agenda, campaigns in the Age of Trump have taken on a style all their own.  The preferred method of attack has become to depict any male Democratic candidate as the lapdog of some woman in a position of authority.  With Hillary not as threatening as she once was, the new Cruella DeVille is Nancy Pelosi.  And Republican strategists seem to be banking on the concept that traditional Republican voters will be appalled by the mere idea of females taking active roles in the political process…

            …in ads at least partially funded by Rebekah Mercer.

            Disingenuous conservatives.  Nothing new there.  But the Trump Effect could well be having an enormous influence on this specific race and Republican politics, in general, in ways not yet appreciated by the pollsters.  Its impact may require a complete rethinking of the strategy that has so well served the Greedy Old Prevaricators for decades.  Because unlike other eras, in the Age of Trump negative campaigning may have lost its effectiveness.

            The RNCC can run an ad characterizing the Democratic candidate as a spineless sycophant whose alleged incompetence permitted drug dealers to avoid prosecution (a story so twisted you have to ask yourself if this is the best thing they could come up with considering the facts related to their accusations seem to be of little importance), and the potential voter simply shrugs his shoulders and says, “So what?”  The Republicans could run an ad accusing the Democratic candidate of stealing all the money from the orphanage and then eating the babies’ livers with some fava beans and a nice chianti and no one would be particularly shocked.

            “He’s a politician.  You have to expect a little thievery and cannibalism,” the voters now freely accept as the status quo.  And in the era of golden showers and shitholes, what else would you expect?

            Republicans, who have relied on twisted versions of reality to elect them for decades, simply can’t design a lie that’s sufficiently shocking in a political environment filled with so many scandals they’ve almost stopped being scandalous.

            High turnout in a race that means nothing, except as a political statement, could turn PA-18 into the Republican Gettysburg.  If their candidate can’t win a gerrymandered district drawn by Republicans to ensure they would control it forever, other Republicans will be compelled to take note. They can turn on their Party to save their sorry careers or they can go down with the ship.

            If the Republican holds the seat because of conservative “blowback” to progressive efforts to preserve American Democracy, it will be a major victory for Trump and his fledgling dictatorship.  Republican leaders will sense their best chance for maintaining power might be continued blind support for their Fearless Leader despite all the issues he seems to be having with bodily discharges.  And the nation will creep closer to the abyss.

            Stay tuned.  Whatever else you can say about this year, you can’t say it hasn’t been interesting.  #SpecialElection  #PAGerrymander  #NegativeCampaigning

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