The Hard Work Of Losing

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I have never seen anything like this. Let’s say that you decide to give politics a try, and run for a seat on the county library board. There are 1000 different ways you can lose that race, and you don’t even know 999 of them. But the only way to win is to run a smart, successful race.

But once you’re in, it’s a different story. How many times have I quoted the fact that the retention rate for the US congress, both houses, is something like 94.6%. You already convinced enough people to vote for you to win, all you have to do is to never give them a reason to not want to vote for you, And the laws for both election funding and corporate lobbying are enough to feather your nest against anything but the most well funded challenger.

Usually, being a politician isn’t all that hard. You have to understand, most politicians haven’t had an original idea since they took a sudden shine to their potty training. The traditional meme for a politician is someone who licks a finger, holds it up to see which way the wind is blowing, and runs like hell to get out in front, turns around, and loudly convinces everybody that the whole damn thing was his idea in the first place.

Which makes the complete and utter meltdown of the incumbent GOP caucus, especially the US Senate, such a complete mystery to me. From where I’m sitting, there are two separate things that could their abject terror, fear of Trump, and the issues. Let’s look at each of them one at a time.

Fear of Trump – This is one that I’ve never gotten. Somehow or other, the media allowed Trump, in 2016, to perpetuate the myth that he had assembled a huge army of previously uninterested voters. This is nothing more or less than complete, unadulterated bullshit. GOP registration didn’t go up in 2016, the only thing that Trump did was to take already registered GOP voters who were too apathetic to show up for the primaries, and bring them out. That’s it. And let’s not forget that Trump lost the national popular vote by almost 3 million.

Do, why are these GOP Senators so terrified of a stupid Trump tweet? Unless you were elected in 2016, in which vase you’re not up for reelection this year, what does Trump mean to you? You already won your seat before Trump ever came along! Which means that you already have your base. enough people already liked you and your message to send you to Washington before Trump ever came on the scene. As long as you keep spouting the kind of empty, GOP claptrap that these people want to hear, do you really think that a bad tempered tweet from His Lowness is going to make them leave the Senate spot blank? You were there first. People can like Trump, and still disagree with him where you’re concerned. Besides, how huge is his brain dead army in your state? It has never made any sense to me that these people were so cocky that they could get elected, yet so insecure that they would fear that a tweet would topple them.

Measuring the wind – Remember what I said earlier? A politician remains successful by finding which way the wind is blowing, getting out in front of the crowd, and taking credit for leading the movement. This has become incredibly difficult in the era of Trump, simply because there is no cohesive strategy of agenda to rally behind. But because there is no positive agenda to get behind, the GOP is instead turning to and whole heartedly supporting two things that are spectacularly unpopular instead.

The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2009. It was immensely unpopular, due mostly to Democratic bungling in messaging while the bill was under consideration. The new law remained unpopular for years, which was to be expected, since the way the law was written, it would take four years for the most popular and beneficial clauses to take effect.

Since year 5, the ACA has steadily climbed the ladder of recovery, and is now statistically far more popular than unpopular. It turns out that in a depressed job market, people actually like being able to keep their kids on their insurance until they’re 26. They like the idea of an exchange if they change jobs, and they love the removal of lifetime caps on coverage and the ban on preexisting conditions.

But this is the table that the Republicans have set for their banquet. They have spent the last decade swearing on all that is holy that they would uproot the tree of Obamacare, toss it into the fire, and piss on the ashes. And regardless of how popular the law has become, this is the one promise that the GOP  Senate has decided that it must keep, even if it means suffering through a  Die Gotterdammerung that costs them all their jobs. Especially when considering that they are actively advocating stripping millions of Americans of insurance during a global pandemic.

Which brings us to the even more egregious error, the appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barret to the Supreme Court. But let’s be clear. The GOP has only spent a decade actively advocating for the overturn of the ACA, no matter how popular it has become, You can’t say that about abortion.

The GOP’s opposition to the landmark Supreme Court decision re Roe v Wade goes all the way back to the very day the decision was announced. And it really gained steam under the tutelage of moron Newt Gingrich’s Moral Majority movement, geared almost exclusively to Evangelicals, and their assorted flotsam and jetsam.

But then, a funny thing happened on the way to the quorum. Things, changed, attitudes changed, public mood changed, and most importantly, women changed. They became stronger, more independent, less reliant on a patrician male overlord, and more insistent on control of their own bodies, and the choices that they made. And while more and more women wanted to enjoy the pleasures of sex, but without the constraints that an unwanted pregnancy could entail, opinion started to shift.

Right now, the majority of the country feels that the winner of the general election on November 3rd should choose and seat the next Supreme Court justice. But more importantly, nearly two thirds of the country believes that Roe v Wade should be left standing as it is, and a smaller number advocate for expanding it’s rights and protections. But the Republicans are so subservient to this reliable but shrinking base, that they can’t walk away from that prize when it is in reach, even if it means their destruction as a party.

I told you at the top, I have never seen anything like this. At their core, politicians tend to be shallow, venal people. They like talking all day about how brilliant they are, that’s how they manage to get elected. But they also know how to get reelected. But the current iteration of the GOP seems to be intent on doing some sort of political Jonestown. They are willing to follow a man they should have no reason to fear, if their popularity is strong, and they will die on the hill of two ideas that national popular opinion is clear that the people don’t want changed. Fine, so be it, Fuck ’em, they don’t belong in the Senate anyway, if they aren’t going to represent their constituents.

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19 Comments on "The Hard Work Of Losing"

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old grey dude
Guest

I’ve been watching cornyn here in texas. Every add he runs is about women’s issues (but doesn’t mention Roe v wade) He always wears a mask.

old grey dude
Guest

posted before I was finished. His ads run away from the trump. He has his finger in the wind knowing trump is becoming unpopular. His vote in favor of amy coney may be his undoing as he is running against a dynamic woman candidate in MJ Hegar.

Denis Elliott
Member
You spoke more than once about the finger in the wind to determine how a politician decides to “lead.” With another hurricane about to make landfall it seems appropriate to point out something. Donald Trump as President is the political equivalent of a hurricane. The rotation of those bands of extra heavy rainfall and extra high winds get wider and a little more spread out (in relation to each other) the farther they are from the eyewall. But let’s talk about that eyewall where the winds are both the strongest and sustained, as well as the eye. Hurricane Trump is… Read more »
Bareshark
Guest
One drum I keep banging, Murf: a big part of the GOP’s troubles is that they haven’t had true leadership in over ten years. When W left on January 20, 2009, he took the entire command structure with him. In its place were middling middle managers like McConnell, unhappy drunks like John Boehner, clueless weasels like Paul Ryan and bark-at-the-moon loons like Louis Gohmert. This is the brain trust that tried exploiting the Tea Party to Congressional dominance, which put all the voters Trump would ever need in one convenient place. So my theory is that the trauma we all… Read more »
Scott Jackson
Guest

That summation of the Republican leadership? Priceless

Bareshark
Guest

Thank you, Scott. All that is why I’ve refused to panic since 2018.

Joseph
Guest
You left off one key point about the GOP’s troubles: The Tea Party. In 2010, instead of acting responsibly and accepting the idea of *possibly* staying out of power for one or two election cycles (Congressional, not presidential), and telling the Tea Party extremists to go for broke and run their own races and get the hell out of the Republican Party, McConnell and the rest of the “leadership” CAVED to the extremists. And, while the GOP benefited by retaking the House and gaining some in the Senate in 2011, they discovered what the price for that capitulation was: A… Read more »
Cherl Harrell
Guest

This was about the time that the moderate conservatives decided to retire from political life. Kay Bailey Hutchison was one of them, but really surprised me when she decided to return and work for Trump.

Bareshark
Guest
I left out no such thing, Joseph. I simply declined to go into the greater detail you just did. And have the Republicans EVER really kicked out the extremists at any point since Nixon’s Southern Strategy took shape? Memories of David Duke running for governor of Louisiana (one of his many “racist politics for profits” schemes) say otherwise. No, the miscalculation was actually in thinking that they could keep the Tea Party in line the way they always had. But once the Teahadists got a taste of the power and Mitt rode to defeat in 2012, the last of the… Read more »
pwhitten
Member

“Teahadists.” Love it!

Senovio Rodriguez
Guest

Caved ? Courted the nuts but they weren’t as good as Bane … in controlling the loons. When the number two guy in House got primaried in Virginia it was too late… yeah, already forget the Young Guns name.

Bareshark
Guest

Eric Cantor is who you’re thinking of, Senovio. Why, yes, I do keep track of every GOP pol who has fallen from grace and standing. Why do you ask?

Senovio Rodriguez
Guest

The caved ? oops sometimes should be more clear. Caved ?, maybe.

And oops, sometimes it gets hard for me to keep responses … precise and flowing.

p j evans
Member

They weren’t very good leaders then, either.

Carroll Ann Robinson
Member
I second Scott–brilliant Bareshark. Hadn’t thought of it this way, but you are correct. All the experienced and at least somewhat middle-of-the-road folks hit Reagan National on their way out of DC in 2009. Even the neo-cons lost power. And Paul Ryan? His stated goal, he said his fondest dream? Was to dismantle Medicare but totally get rid of Medicaid, this latter one since his college days. I was busy thinking about a bunch of other stuff when I was in college and it sure wasn’t any of this nutso nonsense. Are you pretty well convinced that the election will… Read more »
Bareshark
Guest

Hell yes I’m convinced that we got us a Democratic blowout on our hands, Carroll. The combination of Trump’s ham fisted management, the cult’s practice of “follow the leader off the cliff” and the aforementioned lack of structural leadership has all but guaranteed it. It has also not escaped my notice that lots of the Lincoln Project folks used to work for the neocons. They’ll be fighting the Trumpies for years to come for control THEIR ashes.

Denis Elliott
Member
When it come to the Tea Party I believe the Koch Brothers created it precisely to be out of control. They looked back on Gingrich and the havoc he wrought and thought “What if we had a whole gang of such people running amok? All kinds of regulations we hate would go by the wayside because not only would we get some of these crazies in power but all the messes they will create will provide all kinds of cover for our lobbyists to further our agenda.” Sure, the elected “official Washington Brain Trust might have thought they could control… Read more »
Bareshark
Guest

A cute idea, Denis, but you ignored how such an attempt at the “Long Game” has given them Trump’s permanent damage to their favorite political vehicle. So my counter theory is this: like too many rich and influential people before them, they had less of a clue than they thought. What good are less business regulations when you’ve got no business in the first place?

blueman
Member
I’m with you Bearshark. The John Birch Society. That is where the Koch brothers came from. Or rather their daddy was one of the founders. They are typical Americans. More is better. They just threw money at any anti-American candidate anywhere in the country. The one they backed here in Mississippi has never won a statewide election. He has been a waste of money. All these Republicans are crazy assholes. Period. There are just a lot of assholes in this country full of spoiled brats. The things they are willing to say they believe so they can keep their racism… Read more »