At Vox, Nicole Narea gathers comments from four political strategists/pollsters in response to a question of current speculation: “Would Trump’s indictment help or hurt his 2024 campaign?” Some excerpts: GOP pollster Whit Ayers – “I am skeptical that a charge about a years-old event that everybody has already known about for years is likely to have much impact on anything, other than it will probably rally Republicans and supporters of Trump around him, at least in the short term. This would be a very easy case to frame as a partisan political indictment. Much easier to frame that way than, say, the Georgia voting case or the classified documents or January 6.” Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg – “I think it will help [Trump] in the Republican primary, but will continue to degrade him with the broader electorate. MAGA has underperformed in three consecutive elections, and we know it doesn’t work in the battlegrounds. And if the Republicans present themselves as the party all for MAGA in 2024, they’re gonna have a very, very hard time winning the presidency….Trump coming in as the nominee, having been indicted potentially two or three times — there’s no scenario where that’s helpful to him in a national election. It perhaps will help him crowd out DeSantis and other challengers in the primary. But of course, that would be a disaster for the Republican Party. I’d much rather be us than them heading into this next election.” Matt Dole, Ohio Republican strategist: “Trump faced an uphill battle before this for the nomination. I think [his indictment] probably just adds to that. A lot of folks in the Republican coalition want an option that espouses [Trump’s] policies without bringing the antics. Ron DeSantis, obviously, is the model for that….Over the long term, I think this probably helps Trump’s opponents in the Republican primary. There’s certainly a lot to be said for political attacks on President Trump. But I think throughout the entire Republican coalition, this probably hurts him more than it would help….There is a subset of Republicans who are going to support Donald Trump to the very end. And they are loud. And they are well-covered by the media. There will certainly be blowback. But again, all of this is feeding into the fatigue about Donald Trump.”
Pranab Bardhan shares some perceptive insights in “What Will It Take to Save Democracy?,” his review of Martin Wolf’s The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism at The Boston Review. Bardhan, author of “A World of Insecurity: Democratic Disenchantment in Rich and Poor Countries,” notes that “the cultural narratives used by the right have been more effective in influencing public opinion than the economic narratives of class politics used by left-liberals. Survey results have shown that people tend to vastly overestimatethe size of immigrant and minority populations but dramatically underestimate the extent of wealth inequality and the racial wealth gap. The narrative of a besieged cultural majority and the spell of white nationalist conspiracy theories like the Great Replacement are difficult to break, fueling a victimization complex and toxic cultural forms of status anxiety. The whole situation is exacerbated by social media, where the right seems to have an advantage in spreading falsehoods; the more outrageous they are, the more viral they are likely to go (and the more profits the social media companies make). There is evidence that in the three months before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, false stories on Facebook favoring Trump were shared about 30 million times, whereas false stories favoring Hillary Clinton were shared about 8 million times….The decline of unions has hollowed out a shared sense of meaning and identity among workers. Into this cultural void the demagogues have stepped with their racist, xenophobic culture war agenda. In a world of virulent disinformation and fake news and with social media amplifying anger and resentments and creating echo chambers of extremism, labor unions—in collaboration with other community organizations—can try to be active in providing links to public information services and news provided by demonstrably independent agencies.”
“Biden kicks off ‘Invest in America’ tour next week,” Jeremy Diamond reports at CNN Politics: “As he gears up for a likely reelection campaign, President Joe Biden on Tuesday will kick off a three-week tour to highlight the impact of his signature legislative accomplishments as the impacts of those laws begin to be felt around the country, according to a White House official….The “Invest in America” tour will see Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden and nearly a dozen Cabinet members hit more than 20 states – including key battleground states like Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania – over the next three weeks….The tour is the White House’s most coordinated, concerted push to date to accomplish what White House officials see as their central task this year: implementing legislation and making sure Americans know what Biden has accomplished. Polling published last month indicated the White House has its work cut out: 62% of Americans said they believe Biden has accomplished “not very much” or “little or nothing,” according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll….Biden will make his first of multiple stops on Tuesday with a visit to a semiconductor manufacturer in Durham, North Carolina, which has announced plans to build a $5 billion chips manufacturing facility that will create 1,800 new jobs, spurred on by passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, which incentivizes domestic semiconductor manufacturing….Biden will head to North Carolina a day after convening a meeting of his “Invest in America” Cabinet, which is comprised of key Cabinet officials working to implement the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and the American Rescue Plan….Biden and his Cabinet will highlight the direct and indirect impacts of those laws – including private sector investments spurred on by pieces of legislation – and the impact on state and local economies at each stop.” Sounds like a good plan. But I hope these Democrats will also share some soundbites showing that Republicans are more committed to supporting investments in other countries.
Sherrilyn Ifill reports at slate.com on “The Republican Plan to Make Voting Irrelevant,” and writes, “The ability of the governor to appoint a nominee to fill the unexpired term of a senator without restrictions is the law in 35 states….This effort—to remove powers from elected representatives who are Democrats—has become the new method of disenfranchising voters and maintaining perpetual Republican political power. And it is being undertaken with alarming frequency and speed across the country,” Ifill warns. Further, “This may be the most dangerous and efficient structural attack on our democracy. Its threat, and pernicious ingenuity, lies in its ability to make voting itself irrelevant. Voters may turn out in high numbers and elect their candidates of choice, but if the official is not one whose views align with those of the Republican Party, they may find that their powers of office are removed by antagonistic GOP-controlled legislatures.” Ifill notes “Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, not widely regarded as a reform prosecutor, made the presumably unpardonable decision to convene a grand jury to investigate the effort of Donald Trump to compel Georgia officials to fraudulently award him votes he did not win in the 2020 election. In the wake of what were reported to be “imminent” indictments resulting from Willis’ investigations, the Georgia Legislature passed a legally dubious bill that would create commissions empowered to remove elected prosecutors from office….It was [Sen. Mitch] McConnell who, in essence, removed the power of a sitting president to fill an open seat on the United States Supreme Court when he refused to allow hearings and consideration of President Obama’s nominee, then-Judge Merrick Garland. In essence, the Republicans declared that a Democratic president would be denied the constitutional power to appoint justices to the Supreme Court as long as the GOP controlled the Senate….This is an efficiently sinister effort to solidify one-party rule. Its geographic breadth and reach to offices both high and low requires a national legislative response….this should be powerful motivation for congressional Democrats—and, indeed, for all Americans who wish to live in a democracy—to turn out and vote this year and next, in essence to save the framework of democracy while there’s still time. It should be clear now that for the foreseeable future, democracy remains on the ballot.”
“We find that a majority of employed workers’ real (inflation-adjusted) wages have failed to keep up with inflation in the past year. For these workers, the median decline in real wages is a little more than 8.5 percent. Taken together, these outcomes appear to be the most severe faced by employed workers over the past 25 years.” Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, 10/4/2022
This is why President Biden’s tour is unlikely to improve his popularity. Talking about the theoretical future benefits of subsidies for microchips and solar panels does not address what is on most people’s minds, the immediate painful effect of inflation on their standard of living. Couldn’t President Biden have chosen a better time to talk to the taxpayers than the two weeks before April 15th?