“We won the battle (2020 election), but the war has just begun”Bill Maher
Bill Maher is a liberal icon and he’s 100% correct in his assessment. Further, the “win” was clearly not absolute. Democrats celebrated the Presidential election and Georgia Senate run-off victories. However, Democrats also lost down-ballot races at the Federal and state levels which will severely hurt them in redistricting, hindering their chances of taking back state houses and maintaining Congressional majorities.
Plus, North Carolina in particular was a disaster. Cal Cunningham had been predicted to win… and had been leading in the polls for some time… but lost to Tillis due primarily to Cunningham’s extra-marital affair, leading to a 50-50 Senate.
Now, North Carolina Senator Burr has announced he will be retiring, along with four other GOP Senators (Portman of OH; Toomey of PA; Blount of Missouri; and Shelby of AL). Of these states, North Carolina is arguably the most likely to elect a Democratic moderate to the Senate (several have already declared their intention to run), if the party plays its cards correctly. But will it?
In the pre-Biden past, Democrats were insistent on shooting themselves in both feet by permitting themselves to be incorrectly painted as extremists. There was a failure of the Democratic leadership to push back hard enough against a small minority advocating widely unpopular concepts that alienate moderates. As just one example, we have the non-sensical and meaningless phrase, “defund the police.”
Frankly, I am 100% in favor of major and dramatic changes to the way that police are trained, go about their jobs and are disciplined when showing racism in the performance of their duties. On the other hand, Black Americans (including many Black Lives Matter protesters) don’t want less policing. They want improved, more effective, and non-discriminatory policing.
However, due to the Black Lives Matter protests and the Democratic leaders fear of alienating black voters, Pelosi and others failed to push back hard enough against the “defunding” terminology. Democratic leadership’s caving-in to a radical (but vocal) fringe element hurt Democrats in the 2020 Congressional election, when many House members lost their seats. To win in North Carolina’s Senate race in 2022, this mistake cannot be repeated.
Having clear, agreed upon talking points is even more important now with the Democrat’s slim Congressional majority. Obviously, the “defunding” slogan is a distraction, as are several of the far left’s other pronouncements (i.e., the Anti-Semitic statements of Rep. Omar). To win in 2022, the Democratic leadership must emphasize issues important to the voters, including jobs, healthcare, correcting unfair election practices, climate change, and so on…not arguing about the way-out notion of defunding the police.
Biden ran as a grandfatherly moderate but seems to be governing as a pragmatic progressive. As a pragmatic progressive myself, I fully agree with his approach. I hope that he continues to zero in on topics that are widely popular with the American public, like COVID relief and infrastructure. And that he preaches working together and bipartisanship, while still accomplishing his goals despite GOP obstructionism.
However, if Biden cannot control or strongly condemn the outrageous statements coming from Black Lives Matters’ more radical elements, the “Squad” and others, the GOP will win back moderates. Republicans will paint the Democrats as out of touch. The GOP will then smile all the way to victory in the 2022 mid-term elections in North Carolina and other swing states and districts, taking back both the House and Senate. But for the good of the nation, I hope that does not occur.
Image Credit: the photo of NC Senator Richard Burr is from the senator's Facebook page (fair use).