Dear Independent or Undecided Voter: Here’s Your Midterm Crib-Sheet
Fourth in a special series, Midterm Alerts
Dear Independent or Undecided Voter:
So, the midterm elections are next Tuesday, November 8. Whether you planned to vote or not, I hope you will hear out this pitch from a Democrat — a moderate one — asking that you do vote and that you vote Democratic.
To you Independents: You constitute the biggest chunk, by far, of the electorate — 38% of it, per Pew Research Center. Rounding out, that means you comprise almost 40% — or 2/5 of all voters — thus your power to influence elections is huge. Also, you are the electorate’s fastest-growing sector: No doubt you seek refuge in neutrality, away from bitter partisan politics. (Given how lamely Democrats have made their case this midterm, I may soon join you.) As for Undecideds, the wonder is that, given our bitter partisan politics, you have somehow managed not to decide.
Emphasis on the moderate, not the extreme, is presumably what appeals to both your groups and will decide your vote. The following is my best, most moderate, appeal. Again, it is partisan — Democrat — but not extreme. Here is my crib-sheet, focused on 10 main items.
ONE: If you care about DEMOCRACY…. “Threats to democracy” polled as Issue №1 as of August. We all know our democracy is in trouble: Election results are denied, the electoral count is manipulated; an actual insurrection — to block the peaceful transfer of power and usurp it — took place January 6, 2021. Since it is Republicans who engage in these anti-democratic practices, it’s fair to call Republicans anti-democratic. Tragically, they do not see their error and treat our struggle as political — to win power at all costs; Democrats see it as existential — to save the system itself. Now, with the near-assassination of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi imperiling our system even more, why vote for the anti-democratic party…?
TWO: If you care about INFLATION…. We all of us hate paying sky-high prices for gas and groceries. But: Are we truly willing to prioritize high gas prices over hurting our democracy further, by voting anti-democratic Republicans into power, simply because they’re more skillful at pushing inflation as their №1 issue (along with crime)? Voters know gas prices are not only temporary but manipulated. Rather than be mad at President Biden, better direct our anger at the energy companies gouging us all for record profits. N.B.: Profits are up across almost all sectors, not just energy.
THREE: If you care about CRIME…. We all of us worry about crime — in our homes, our communities. But: You cannot condone the rampage of the U.S. Capitol of January 6 and the assault on Capitol police, resulting in 5 officer deaths, and claim to be tough on crime and love cops, as Republicans do. Doesn’t compute! Moreover most Democrats oppose, strenuously, the “Defund the police” slogan, which Republicans tag them with. And, now, with Speaker Pelosi’s near-assassination, Republicans dishonorably mock a grave state crime.
FOUR: If your care about ABORTION…. With Roe v. Wade overturned, abortion has been handed to the states — and it’s a medical/legal nightmare. This nightmare will get worse if Republicans retake Congress and enact a federal ban. But: If Congress stays Democratic, President Biden will make codification of Roe top priority. However you feel about abortion as a moral issue (I’m barely onboard, believing in restrictions), the woman, not the State, must be final arbiter. Imagine if men lost such personal right….
FIVE: If you care about UKRAINE…. Ukraine and its president Volodymyr Zelensky have thrilled the world, including Americans, with their valiant resistance to invasion by big neighbor Russia. But: If Republicans retake Congress, the massive flow of arms America sends Ukraine — enabling David to match Goliath — will be greatly reduced, per would-be Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Meaning: If Vladimir Putin wins, rape and torture are restored as instruments of war, all Rules of War cease — and Ukraine might, too. Slava ukraini!
SIX: If you care about CLIMATE CHANGE…. With every flood, wildfire, and hurricane, and with new events like “atmospheric rivers,” it becomes ever clearer that climate change is hard upon us. Republicans by and large deny this new reality, while Democrats and Mr. Biden acknowledge it. Let’s do this for the young people.
SEVEN: IF you care about GUN VIOLENCE…. With every mass shooting, with every massacre of schoolchildren, the blot on America’s conscience grows uglier. As I wrote earlier, someday, when we awaken, we will be appalled at the gun violence we allowed. Let us awaken — finally. Republicans never will, wedded as they are to their guns, but Democrats are and are on it (kudos, Senator Chris Murphy). People: We need to do this.
EIGHT: If you care about TRUTH…. While I could go on here about other issues, America’s troubled state requires a note about character. Truth and truthfulness, key to a democracy’s functioning, are severely degraded. Donald Trump’s lies are so numerous they are tabulated by The Washington Post. His biggest lie, of a stolen 2020 election, infects huge swaths. While liberals played a part early on (“Truth is relative”), the problem now is absolute: A majority of GOP candidates are denialists. The solution? Deny the election-deniers any victory — and stop our anti-democratic slide.
NINE: If you care about DECENCY…. Democracy needs decency, simple human kindness among citizens, to function. It’s a lesson the American superpower could relearn, too: As Shakespeare said, “Th’ abuse of greatness is when it disjoins / Remorse from power.” All remorse is gone in Republicans’ sick twisting of Speaker Pelosi’s near-assassination, to which I must recur for its in-decency (and won’t recite). If Republicans retake Congress, it’s back to swagger abroad and cruelty amongst citizens. Spare us, voters, please!
TEN: And, if you love AMERICA…. Somehow Republicans implanted the narrative that Democrats “hate America.” But again: Any party condoning the insurrectionist rampage of the U.S. Capitol, and now seeks to complete the insurrectionists’ work from inside by disassembling democracy’s machinery, cannot love America and is not patriotic. Most Democrats I know are heartbroken over America today, some unto illness. I love the idea of America and its foundational ideals. Were we to achieve them fully, we’d be golden.
Thanks for hearing me out in this eleventh-hour appeal. I will note further what Mr. Biden and the Democrats have not successfully put over in this campaign: that American democracy in many ways does work — see: passage of the American Rescue Plan (COVID relief) and the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as bipartisan — repeat: bipartisan — passage of the CHIPS Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and arms flows to Ukraine.
Finally, I leave you with this: My late Republican mother, the last time she voted — it was in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton — after a lifetime of voting a straight Republican ticket, at the very last my rock-ribbed Republican mother voted for Democrats. And you can, too!
For my previous midterm alerts, see here.