Yes, Elections Have Consequences

  

Category:  Op/Ed

Via:  hallux  •  3 weeks ago  •  26 comments

By:   David Frum - The Atlantic

Yes, Elections Have Consequences

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



A mericans reputedly   have short attention spans. But their decisions have long fuses. People vote for reasons that may be quite contingent, even temporary or incidental, but that seem compelling in the moment—with effects that detonate long afterward.

Republicans won a remarkable nine seats in the U.S. Senate in the elections of 2014. That sweep empowered Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to block President Barack Obama’s 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. McConnell held the seat open until a Republican president could fill it—setting us on the path to a conservative supermajority on the Court that this year reached a 6–3 decision to overturn   Roe v. Wade .

What enabled the Republicans’ extraordinary showing in those midterms? Good evidence suggests that the GOP owed its sweep to an event almost forgotten in this decade that is now so defined by the COVID-19 pandemic: the panic in the fall of 2014 over the Ebola virus.

The first American Ebola case   was reported   on September 30: A Liberian man sick with the disease had flown into the U.S. seeking care. Though uninsured, he   received   treatment at a Dallas hospital but died a week later—having infected two of his American nurses. (They recovered.) It was exactly the kind of story, freighted with fear and resentment, to supercharge Republican voters.

ABC News   reported   in October 2014:



With less than three weeks before the midterm election, Ebola has emerged front and center in stump speeches, on the debate stage and even some campaign ads as it’s turning into one of this election’s most unexpected, yet hottest campaign issues.
An   ABC News/Washington Post poll   released this week found that 65% of Americans are concerned about an Ebola epidemic, and four in ten Americans are worried they or an immediate family member might catch the disease.


When political scientists   studied   the numbers more closely after the 2014 vote, they found that Ebola fears correlated closely with an increase in support for Republican candidates. Given that 2014   was   a low-turnout election (the lowest since 1942), an issue such as this—that energized Republicans without much affecting Democrats—could convert the governing party’s usual midterm losses into a wave election.

The episode has largely slipped from public memory because the Ebola epidemic of 2014 was snuffed out the next year by effective international public-health intervention, and the weeks of terrifying coverage by CNN and local news stations vanished into the video archives. But the political legacy of that terror lingers: The Republican voters’ enthusiasm that year lit the fuse that led to the demolition eight years later of a half-century-old abortion precedent.

The lesson for the 2022 cycle is that the issues that seemed most salient as voters went to the polls will probably be long-forgotten in a few years’ time—but their choice will have had a huge bearing on what becomes of the United States. Voters can’t be expected to apprehend the longer-term consequences of the votes they cast. But their votes have consequences.

Ahead of this year’s elections, voters seem motivated above all by cost-of-living issues, with additional concerns about crime and illegal immigration, and possibly cultural issues such as transgender teen athletes seeking to play in girls’ sports leagues, also factoring in. Voters are not much preoccupied by threats to democracy.

People with bills to pay and families to raise have to think about their immediate concerns. If your mortgage payments have spiked because of higher interest rates, or your car   was stolen   during the post-2020 crime wave, those shocks will, of course, be top of mind. Yet even as voters attend to the immediate, they are also casting a ballot on three issues that may seem remote but have enormous import.

The first is whether former President Donald Trump will face the same legal consequences as any other citizen for his frauds and crimes or whether his party will create a new right of impunity for ex-presidents. The second is whether Republicans will return to   their 2011 strategy   of using congressional leverage over the debt ceiling to threaten U.S. financial default as a bargaining tactic in budget fights. The third is whether the U.S. will continue to stand by Ukraine as it resists Russia’s invasion.

Impunity

The ex-president   is at the center   of so many civil lawsuits and criminal investigations that keeping track of them all is challenging. The idea that the suits and investigations are improper and must be stopped is one thing that unites Trump’s party. If Republicans gain one or both houses of Congress, they will exert pressure to halt all process of law. President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations may be obstructed, and officials at the Department of Justice and from the FBI may be summoned before committees to face abusive questioning.

Lurking in the background will be an implicit deal: Allow a Trump exception and let him off the hook, or we’ll blow up the whole functioning of federal law enforcement. The House Judiciary Committee could well be chaired by Jim Jordan. More than a vehement Trump partisan, Jordan   was   an active participant on Trump’s behalf in the events of January 6—but that potential conflict of interest would not prevent him from running interference for both Trump and himself.

The impunity that Trump allies seek for him relates not only to acts undertaken in some presidential capacity, such as claiming sensitive classified documents as his personal property, but also to his actions as a private businessman, such as allegedly cheating on taxes and   lying   to his banks. Above all, Trump and his allies seek impunity for their parts in the effort to overthrow a U.S. election.

Most Republican lawmakers do not believe Trump’s Big Lie about the 2022 election. But they recognize that to stay in good standing with the party, they must commit to protecting Trump from any consequences for his “Stop the Steal” plotting.

This will not be an electoral issue for most voters, but equal justice under the law, even for the most powerful, is on the ballot in November.

Government Default

Many Republican candidates have spoken enthusiastically about using the impending debt-ceiling deadlines to force their budget priorities on the Biden administration. Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy   endorsed   the idea in a mid-October interview with   Punchbowl News . This was a technique that Republicans deployed seriously in 2011, and again, less seriously, in 2013. In 2011, the stunt   cost   U.S. Treasury bonds their cherished triple-A rating.

None of the players in these crises wants to force a default that would have global economic effects. As in a game of chicken from an old hot-rod movie, they each count on the other to swerve aside first. The more responsible party loses the game. But the risks of miscalculation and miscommunication are huge.

The world veered toward catastrophe in 2011 because Republican House leaders were too weak to veto the wild ideas of their members. Those leaders are weaker still today, and the members likely to be elected in 2022 will have even wilder ideas. Even if a deal is somehow negotiated, will a Speaker McCarthy have the moxie to enforce it within his caucus?

In other words, within weeks of a new Congress being seated, the U.S. and the world could be on the brink of a global financial crisis triggered by the ideological extremism of the Republican House caucus and the breakdown of its leaders’ authority.

As with Trump’s impunity, global financial stability may not be an electoral issue for most voters, but it will nevertheless be on the ballot in November.

Abandoning Ukraine

Ukraine has solid friends on the Republican side of the aisle. In May, Minority Senate Leader McConnell traveled to Kyiv to confer with President Volodymyr Zelensky, and praised Sweden and Finland as “important additions” to NATO; he also   gave his firm backing   to their applications when the matter came up before the U.S. Senate.

But some GOP House and Senate members are hostile to Ukraine. In order to placate them, McCarthy issued his warning of no “blank check” to Ukraine if Republicans win the House. He left himself some room for maneuver, by   insisting   that “Ukraine is important.” But McCarthy is not a leader who can carry his caucus anywhere it does not want to go. Many on today’s political right have internalized the Trumpian idea that Ukraine is a woke cause, and that authoritarian Russia is the proper ally for conservative Republicans.

This idea   is spreading   far and fast through right-wing media. Putin’s noises about nuclear war excite them—not as a real-world security challenge but as material for a domestic cultural war, a stick with which to beat ideological enemies who disrespected Trump. These Republicans will have no compunction about shutting off aid to Ukraine and ending cooperation with NATO.

Peace and democracy in Europe will be on the ballot in November too.

V oting is always   an individual act. Each voter decides for themselves how and why to use the tremendous power of the franchise. Many Americans saw 2014 as the Ebola election. Then, as events unfold, the results of our collective action at the polls are felt—and we discover that, with hindsight, 2014 was really the abortion election.

This year, voters would do well to consider not only their immediate discontent but also how their vote will reverberate through the years. If the new Congress cuts off Ukraine and puts the world on the path to greater economic instability, to constitutional crisis and political violence, and to nuclear blackmail, that’s what will be remembered about the election of 2022—not what the price of gasoline was that November.


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Hallux
Junior Principal
1  seeder  Hallux    3 weeks ago

“Americans reputedly have short attention spans.”

That they do and buy into decades old culture wars as if they are some ‘new wave’ but like the ‘old wave’ both are wet and you can’t breathe … the ‘moral majority’ will always be the immoral minority misappropriating “we the people” and dreaming of June Cleaver in a tight sweaters behind the ‘safety’ of a white picket fence. The nation is apparently awash in shameless Eddie Haskells seeking to be installed by the manifest exceptionalism of fear.

Tuesday should be a good night to re-watch ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ or to reread ‘The Remarkable Rocket’.

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
2  GregTx    3 weeks ago
Peace and democracy in Europe will be on the ballot in November too.

As well as the end of democracy here in the states? Piss off, you "highly amused outside observer".

 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
2.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  GregTx @2    3 weeks ago

[Deleted]

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2.1.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Hallux @2.1    3 weeks ago
Does your trailer, and I know where your Mama parked it, have a mantel?

Living in public housing or federally subsidized rentals might gain you empathy were living in a trailer generates disdainful scorn.  It’s just another prejudice, usually on the left.

 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
2.1.2  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.1    3 weeks ago

It's a quote from the Dixie Chicks.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
2.1.3  Ender  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.1    3 weeks ago

I have seen some nice trailers. I would just never live in one in my neck of the woods. Too many hurricanes.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2.1.4  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Hallux @2.1.2    3 weeks ago

Then you should have identified it as such, why did you pick that quote?

 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
2.1.5  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.4    3 weeks ago

Why? Because it is wry.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2.1.6  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Hallux @2.1.5    3 weeks ago
Why? Because it is wry.

No, NV CoC: "Content from other sources (i.e. quotes, seeds) should have the URL cited along with the content."

What song is this from?  BTW, they changed their name two years ago to Chicks. 

 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
2.1.7  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.6    3 weeks ago

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.1.8  JohnRussell  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.6    3 weeks ago

To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe, to strive with the last ounce of courage, to go where the brave dare not go. 

Do I need a link? 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2.1.9  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Hallux @2.1.7    3 weeks ago

I know that song well, have the album.  Your line isn't in these lyrics, which song is it from?

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2.1.10  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.8    3 weeks ago

A better known lyric.  [Deleted]

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.1.11  JohnRussell  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.10    3 weeks ago

Im not sure there is another member on the forum that tries to make a big deal out of nothing the way you do. Who cares if he "quoted" one line from a Dixie Chicks song? 

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
2.1.12  GregTx  replied to  Hallux @2.1    3 weeks ago

Right.. fly on albatross. 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2.1.13  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.11    3 weeks ago
tries to make a big deal out of nothing the way you do. Who cares if he "quoted" one line from a Dixie Chicks song? 

I haven't made a big deal, why do you think that.  I have asked what song it's from but only got a diversion.

 
 
 
dennissmith
Freshman Silent
2.1.14  dennissmith  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.13    3 weeks ago

Certainly you cannot be surprised by the diversion.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
2.2  Sean Treacy  replied to  GregTx @2    3 weeks ago

Yeah, democracy is ending again.

 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
2.2.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Sean Treacy @2.2    3 weeks ago
Yeah, democracy is ending again.

Wir da volks will know more when Steve Bannon publishes 'Mein Drumpf'.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago
Many on today’s political right have internalized the Trumpian idea that Ukraine is a woke cause, and that authoritarian Russia is the proper ally for conservative Republicans. This idea is spreading far and fast through right-wing media. Putin’s noises about nuclear war excite them—not as a real-world security challenge but as material for a domestic cultural war, a stick with which to beat ideological enemies who disrespected Trump. These Republicans will have no compunction about shutting off aid to Ukraine and ending cooperation with NATO.

That is a brilliant and accurate analysis.  

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
3.1  Ender  replied to  JohnRussell @3    3 weeks ago
These Republicans will have no compunction about shutting off aid to Ukraine and ending cooperation with NATO

That I have to agree with. Not all republicans, mostly the trumpers.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
4  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago

David Frum is a well known "never Trumper" who was a lifelong Republican prior to Trump. The never- trumpers often have the best analysis of these issues because they can stick to the facts without the emotions "liberals" might bring to it. 

 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
4.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  JohnRussell @4    3 weeks ago

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
4.2  Ronin2  replied to  JohnRussell @4    3 weeks ago
The never- trumpers often have the best analysis of these issues because they can stick to the facts without the emotions "liberals" might bring to it. 

Thank you for the laugh this morning. I really needed it. Never Trumpers are by far the worst TDS driven loons because they now side with Democrats. They are completely emotional driven. Logic would dictate you don't jump out of the frying pan and into the fire; but they did it any ways.

 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
4.2.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Ronin2 @4.2    3 weeks ago
Never Trumpers are by far the worst TDS driven loons because they now side with Democrats. They are completely emotional driven.

I have known David for many a year, the only time I ever saw him get emotional was when Barbara died from leukemia at the young age of 54.

 
 
 
independent Liberal
Freshman Quiet
5  independent Liberal    3 weeks ago

I find it alarming that democrats miscalculated Hispanic voters. For years friends of mine have hinted that the solution to securing electoral dominance was through the southern border. I was always apprehensive of this type of plan really.  Having spent time all throughout Latin America I can tell you that even the liberals there tend to be significantly more socially conservative than their American counterparts. The other issue is many crossing into America are fleeing what they perceive as socialism, usually a corrupt dictator who campaigned as a liberal ie Hugo Chavez etc. These voters want little to do with anything they can compare to the failed systems they are fleeing.

Then there is the naturalized Hispanic voter, they seem appalled at the conflict in law and policy. They immigrated through normal channels a generation ago and find it unfair. They also see it as a threat as many of them fled their fellow countrymen to escape violence and right or wrong they fear the violence and lawlessness is coming for them. Then we have the Latinx issue, no one from Latin America is adopting this strange term, they find it insulting and ridiculous. The Democrat party needs to rethink their relationship with Hispanic voters. If you want their vote, you need to listen to them and get to know them. If you want to flip the electorate with immigrants, you need to recruit immigrants from countries where right winger government oppress them. Ecuador may be your only choice in Latin America however that government is more center than right.

 
 

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