By Alec Pruchnicki
Do not divide your forces in the face of a superior enemy — Military axiom
Although the Republicans completely control many state governments and almost the entire federal system, Democrats are giddy with the possibility of a big “blue wave” sweeping this away because of numerous victories in special elections. They should have learned that even predictable victories can go spectacularly wrong, as in Gore vs. Bush in 2000 and Clinton vs. Trump in 2016.
For example, the recent popularity of Cynthia Nixon’s challenge to Governor Cuomo guarantees that over the next four months many Democrats, both moderate and progressive, will spend time, energy, money, and media coverage fighting each other rather than trying to take Republican House and State Senate seats. When the primary is over, these two factions will somehow, harmoniously, come together and ask the public to turn out and vote for the candidate that some of them have been attacking for four months.
Overconfidence is a Democratic trait. Recent special election victories indicate future success in the same way that polls indicated Clinton would crush Trump. A recent NY Times article showed that many of the women flooding into electoral politics are doing it in Republican districts where the odds are very much against them.
Meanwhile, what are the Republicans doing? Although a few recent court victories in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Texas have weakened some of the voter suppression laws and gerrymandered districts, there are many more states where these laws are still in effect. Even the victorious decisions may not take effect by November, given Republican challenges and procedural foot-dragging.
Money is already flowing into Republican election coffers with a recent pledge of $30 million by Sheldon Adelson. There will be plenty more donations of announced and hidden funds that will pour into their accounts before November. Internet trolls, both foreign and domestic, can also be active. Although awareness of this problem is widespread, actual adequate protections against internet mischief have not been put in place, especially at the federal level. Since they got away with it before without negative consequences, why wouldn’t they do it again?
There is the possibility of an “October surprise”—while many people are worrying about a wholesale firing of Rosenstein and Mueller, that could backfire and imply Trump’s malfeasance. Nevertheless, there will still be an option that usually increases support for a president: a war. From past experience we know that wars are sometimes widely supported in the beginning, even when they are based on lies and distortions. It is said that the first casualty of a war is truth, and there is no reason why this shouldn’t be the case if there is some major or minor fight (real or exaggerated) started with, let’s say, Iran. From past experience, we know that anti-war politicians will be cowed by accusations of not supporting the troops, and mainline media will want to avoid being labelled unpatriotic. Military action, of whatever type, only has to last until the election before it is exposed as avoidable. If Trump doesn’t understand this, Bolton does.
So, is the “blue wave” so inevitable now? I hope every one of these predictions is wrong, but if they are correct we will again be wondering how the Democrats lost. In any case, if we want to avoid these dire outcomes we must not just sit; we must do something.