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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Should Emphasize GOP’s Embrace of Unamerican and Unpatriotic Values

Some excerpts from “For Biden, Republican Anti-Government Attacks Can Be a Campaign Strategy: While Trump believes the government exists to serve him, Biden has a strong case for a government for the people in 2024” by Chris Edelson at The Progressive:

Ironically, one of the most fervent Trump supporters—Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia—may have given Biden a ready-made campaign plank. In July, Greene warned that Biden is following in the footsteps of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson; that he is a “Democratic Socialist” committed to “big government programs to address education, medical care, urban problems, rural poverty, transportation, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and welfare.”

Greene—known for promoting a “Jewish space laser” conspiracy by breathlessly (and incoherently) suggesting that California wildfires in 2018 might have had something to do with a “laser beam” somehow connected to “Rothschild, Inc”—doesn’t stand out as a deep, strategic thinker. So it’s no surprise that her effort to tar Biden with the frequently misused scare label of “socialist” could easily backfire. As one observer said of Greene’s “socialism” rant, “it strikes me as a curious political strategy to compare the legislation of a President [Biden] you despise and want to impeach with some of the most broadly popular legislation in American history.”

Biden seems to agree with this analysis: his campaign quickly responded with an ad that welcomed Greene’s comparison to FDR and LBJ as an indication that the Biden Administration is committed to helping middle class and working class people.

It was refreshing—but certainly not inevitable—to see Biden proudly embrace the idea that government can be a force for good in Americans’ lives.  In the past, other Democrats went into a defensive crouch when Republicans like Ronald Reagan described government as “the problem.” After Republicans hammered home their “big government attack” for more than a decade, Bill Clinton finally conceded in 1996 that “the era of big government is over,” seeming to accept the Republicans’ premise that government is the enemy, or, at best, “a necessary evil.”

Edelson adds, “The Biden ad suggests an alternative approach: seizing on overwrought Republican anti-government rhetoric as an opening for presenting an effective case for Biden and the Democrats in 2024 that contrasts their approach with Republicans’ cynical view of government….” Further, writes Edelson,

….Republicans see government as a force that serves them—that advances their specific world views at the expense of their perceived enemies. This view is represented in its purest form by the party’s leader, Donald Trump. For Trump, everything is about him, and the government exists only to serve his personal interests by lining his pockets (or his family members’ pockets), protecting his henchmen, punishing his perceived enemies, and consolidating personal power. This is a man so self-absorbed that he falsely insisted classified government documents were “my documents.”….If he is given a second term, Trump has made it brazenly clear that he will do all he can to make government officials personally loyal to him. At its heart, Trump’s vision of government is profoundly authoritarian: he sees government as a tool he can use to advance his interests and a weapon he can deploy to destroy his critics.

In contrast, Biden and the Democrats can argue that government exists to serve everyone. The point of government is to make life better—the preamble to our Constitution says as much. Where Trump’s view of government is deeply authoritarian and personal, Biden can embrace government as thoroughly democratic and aimed at public service. He could claim his presidency has been focused not on personal gain but rather on helping Americans burdened by student loans, inflation, worries about the pandemic, and economic uncertainty. On all of these fronts, Biden has standing to contend that peoples’ lives have been improved by government intervention, and that he can continue this approach in a second term.

Edelson concludes that “emphasizing a contrast between Biden’s and Trump’s approaches to government can give progressives an edge in an election that may be extremely competitive.” These opposing views of government provide an important distinction.

But it’s not just that Democrats have a genuine faith in government’s responsibility to serve the people, while Trump and his Republican lapdogs see government as a tool for their personal enrichment. Democrats should also not hesitate to ‘wave the flag’ and say clearly that Trump’s view of government, shared by his followers in his party, is deeply unamerican and unpatriotic. They have betrayed America’s — and Democracy’s — best ideals about freedom and fairness. That’s what voters who love America should take to the polls in 2024.

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