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Bluer Than You Think

After 843,000 jobs were added to the economy over the past two months, it might be time for many of us to pause and think about just where we are in our country today.

Donald Trump and his MAGA cult would have us believe that America is headed to ruin, comparing President Biden to Hitler and calling him a “raving lunatic”, demonstrating once again their talent for reversing roles. However, with his attempts to overturn the 2020 election constituting a true threat to democracy, Trump is the one who should be compared to Hitler.

And “raving lunatic”? Who is the most recent president who was so angry at his attorney general that he slammed his lunch against the White House dining room wall, forcing staff members to wipe away the ketchup stains?

But, I digress.

Abortion Dogma

The Republican leadership and strategists already regret that the Trump-packed U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Roe v. Wade so early in the campaign season, clearing the way for states to ban or severely restrict abortions. Now, many GOP candidates are scrubbing their websites of hard-line references to abortion, and strategists faced with devising messaging that skirts the issue and instead attacks Biden and the Democrats on the economy and inflation.

Why are so many Republicans running away from the abortion issue? Because reliable surveys show that 62 percent of Americans believe it should be legal in most or all cases, including many Republican women and Independents.

“This is not a conversation we want to have,” John Thomas, a Republican strategist who works on House campaigns across the country, told Politico. “We want to have a conversation about the economy. We want to have a conversation about Joe Biden, about pretty much anything else besides Roe … This is a losing issue for Republicans.”

So, if the Republican dogma is that abortion should be banned, and most Democrats strongly disagree, then those Republicans who disagree with their party’s line are bluer than they might think.

Biden Wins

Washington Post columnist Max Boot, a former Republican, points out that Biden has passed legislation to stimulate the economy, build infrastructure, fund semiconductor production, pay for veterans’ health programs, regulate gun sales, lower prescription drug prices and roll back greenhouse gas emissions.

“He hasn’t gotten everything he wanted, but from a legislative standpoint, this is one of the most successful presidencies in decades,” Boot writes.

Boot then points out that during a speech last week Biden finally began calling out Trump and his “MAGA Republicans” for what they are. “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” the president said, only a few days after he described the MAGA philosophy as “semi-fascism.”

So, let’s look at some other areas in which many Americans, regardless of party, find common ground — where people might be just a bit bluer than they think.

Action on Climate

The new Inflation Reduction Act was met with near total opposition by Republicans in Congress, including provisions devoting $369 billion to mitigating planet-warming emissions, which they labeled as being modeled after the Democrats proposed “Green New Deal.”

But what about the American people? Do they buy the GOP’s complaints? Do Republican leaders risk alienating key voting groups like young people and suburban voters who want climate action in the face of worsening wildfires, droughts and flooding? Could such alienation complicate Republican efforts to retake one or both houses of Congress?

“From a messaging perspective this is a problem for Republicans,” said Quill Robinson, vice president of government affairs at American Conservation Coalition, a youth conservative environmental group. Quoted by Politico, he said, “If they are criticizing this as the Green New Deal, that puts them in a pretty difficult position because process issues and qualms about some substance won’t get through to young people. A lot of them will see this as Republicans opposing climate legislation.”

So, for Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who support the climate provisions, they are bluer than they might think.

Student Loans

Then comes President Biden’s plan to cancel some student debt that will benefit millions of Americans. What has been the Republican response?

The Washington Post reported Sept. 1 that Republican state attorneys general and other leading conservatives are planning lawsuits, challenges that could limit or invalidate the policy before it takes full effect. According to The Post, Republican attorneys general from states including Arizona, Missouri and Texas have met privately to discuss a strategy of filing multiple cases around the country.

“We’re going through that analysis right now, not only in Arizona but other states,” Attorney General Mark Brnovich said. “You have a dangerous precedent. Any time any president thinks they can unilaterally dismiss debt or transfer wealth from one group to another group, it’s a huge power grab. The ends can’t justify the means.”

Democrats generally support President Biden’s decision to cancel student debt for millions of federal student loan borrowers who would see up to $20,000 of their debt wiped away.

Individual borrowers who make less than $125,000 a year and married couples or heads of households who make less than $250,000 annually will see up to $10,000 of their federal student loan debt forgiven.

If a qualifying borrower also received a federal Pell grant while enrolled in college, the individual is eligible for up to $20,000 of debt forgiveness. Pell grants are awarded to low-income students, based on factors including their family’s size and income and the cost charged by their college.

Are you a Republican or independent who leans Republican who supports Biden’s student loan decision? Do you want to see the GOP try to block that decision? If not, my friend, you are bluer than you think.

Threats to Democracy

Finally, an August NBC poll shows that “threats to democracy” is now the top concern of voters overall, above even “cost of living” and “jobs and the economy.”

Clearly, the serious questions over Trump taking classified documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago and subsequent revelations regarding the circumstances surrounding them are having an impact on many people, including Republicans concerned about national security.

Those are just some examples of where people are coming together. We could talk about voting rights, the infrastructure, gun safety, racial equality, and many other issues where many Republicans and Independents, if they really think about it, will agree with mainline Democrats on responsible actions that should be taken.

Really, if we could just cut through all of the hateful rhetoric, many of the divisions that beset our country could be eased. In all of these issues, there is always more to it than simply the punchlines used to generate clickable headlines. Much more.

The above article was originally published by Bob Gatty on his Lean to the Left blog site. Bob is co-chair of the HCDP Communications Committee.
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