The closing argument for the mid-terms — stick to “those stubborn things”…
Donald Trump may well take credit for it, but he is not the author of “The Big Lie.” There have been bigger lies, far worse ones, but perhaps, none as brazen. As the DOJ circles the wagons around the shenanigans that have been taking place at Mar-a-Lago, it is becoming clearer that the effort required to maintain the lies increases as evidence is discovered — necessitating more lying which in turn produces further disclosure of facts and evidence. The fever Trump has spread to the Republican Party has now enveloped it and birthed a Kooks’ network of conspiracy theorists. What Trump and the Republican Party may lay claim to is the bald-faced lie — the distinction being the infusion of shamelessness in the distortion of the truth. The upcoming campaign for control of Congress should be an uphill climb for the party supporting an insurrection, the Doctor from NJ running for Senator in PA, and Hershel Walker. Yet the races in key battleground states are tightening due to an influx of dark money. Anonymous donors who support the anti-democratic policies are the stitch and fabric of the support shoring up candidates who offer to sell access for a monetary downpayment.
This midterm is a battle about freedom and democracy. The Dobbs decision decided by SCOTUS in June gave Dems a framing issue for the midterms. A woman’s right to choose is all about freedom and a denial of a long-held right that was recognized for over fifty years. Republicans should lose that battle decisively and have determined that they can win by convincing enough voters that neither matters. They prefer a battleground composed of the usual suspects- — crime, the economy, and assorted playlists of culture war favorites. The problem, however, is that in order to trot out their campaign arguments they have to distort the truth.
The Tuberville Doctrine
Lately, candidates have adopted a stance that Donald Trump advocated in his disgraceful inaugural address, “American Carnage.” Their ploy is to convince voters that Democrats invite crime, and Democratic adherents actually prosper with its growth. Tommy Tuberville (R AL) trotted out his version of the hideous lie in a rally rant last week:
“They are not soft on crime. They’re pro-crime. They want crime. They want crime because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have. They want reparations because they think the people that do the crime are owed that.”
— Senator Tommy Tuberville (R, AL)
Tuberville managed to reveal the truth about what lies at the heart of Republican fascism. Big lies are built from the little ones they tell without facts and/or shame. As John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things…” The Tuberville lie is even more shameful given its racist underpinnings and stubborn facts. Crime has been in steady decline in the U.S. for the past 25 years, and where crime is rising does not accommodate the argument Republicans are trying to make:
The overall crime rate in the United States is 47.70. The violent crime rate in the United States has decreased sharply over the past 25 years. Crimes rates vary significantly between the states, with states with such as Alaska, New Mexico, and Tennessee experiencing much higher crime rates than states such as Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Some of the world’s lowest crime rates are seen in Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Japan, and New Zealand. Each of these countries has very effective law enforcement, and Denmark, Norway, and Japan have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world.
In fact, the statistics on crime are even more devastating and turns their lie on themselves. According to the same study, eight of the ten states with the highest violent crime rates are red states (Michigan and New Mexico are the “Purple” outliers). The Republican narrative likes to cite blue states like New York and California in their crime rants, yet statistics show that they are not awash in crime and, in fact, bright blue San Francisco, a particular right-wing target because it is represented in Congress by Nancy Pelosi, has a crime rate that is far less than smaller red state cities like St. Louis and Jackson, Mississippi, numbers one and two on the list :
10 Most Dangerous Cities in the US (#1 is the highest cost of crime)
1. St. Louis, Missouri
2. Jackson, Mississippi
3. Detroit, Michigan
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
5. Baltimore, Maryland
6. Memphis, Tennessee
7. Cleveland, Ohio
8. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
9. Kansas City, Missouri
— Forbes, Crime In America: Study Reveals The 10 Most Unsafe Cities (It’s Not Where You Think), by Laura Begley Bloom, Feb. 2022
The truth is that Begley notes in her article that homicides and gun violence, crimes directly attributable to the Republican obstructionism in attempts to rein in the gun lobby, are up significantly by about 7%. Criminals, in fact- — racists, bigots, and neo-Nazis- — form the very core of the Republican base.
Dare We Mention the Economy?
Another Republican fallacy is to blame Dems for the economy, ignoring the fact that historically the economy fares far better under Democratic control. Economic figures are overshadowed by the after-effects of the pandemic, which devastated the economy. The Russian assault on Ukraine made matters worse, restricting gas supplies to European NATO nations, and joining with the Saudis in reducing oil production and contributing to gas price increases. With that as a backdrop, it is important to note that inflation is a real threat and that the overall economy is in a perilous state because of inflationary pressures and falling markets. On the other hand, the dollar is strong, unemployment is at historic lows, wages are rising, and the job market has made a strong recovery from the pandemic which decimated all aspects of the economy, but especially job creation.
In fairness, then, the economy is fair game in November, but Democrats still have a case to make that the economy is remarkably strong considering:
There is no universally accepted definition of a “good” number of jobs or rate of wage growth, which means the exact placement of the various measures is somewhat subjective… meaning most of the economy is doing well, but slowing down.Even in the best of times, it can be hard to get a handle on what’s happening in an economy with 150 million workers and $20 trillion worth of annual output. And these are far from the best of times. The pandemic and its ripple effects are continuing to disrupt global supply chains and keeping millions of Americans out of work. The war in Ukraine has pushed up gas and food prices, and added a new source of uncertainty. The Federal Reserve is trying to beat back the fastest inflation in decades — and threatening to cause a recession in the process.
— NYTimes, How Is the Economy Doing? By Ben Casselman and Lauren Leather, Sept. 13, 2022
The economy as it stands now is better than what would be expected despite the threat of an economic slowdown that many economists would consider a controlled recession. The effects of the Fed raising interest rates has cooled off what was a red-hot market just months ago. Marketwatch has described the housing market even as it is cooling off:
After two years of red-hot sales, economic data paints a tale of a market that’s seeing weaker sales, plunging sentiment among homebuilders, and rising mortgage rates.
But economists are divided over whether the U.S. housing sector is in a recession.
Some economists say it is.
Given that the decline in housing activity is across the economy and has lasted for more than a few months, “many housing indicators do point to a recession in the U.S. housing market,” Selma Hepp, deputy economist at CoreLogic, told MarketWatch.
— MarketWatch, Is the housing market in a recession? Here’s what economists are saying, July 31, 2022
The Business Journal of the Wharton School offers insight:
The construction industry is in a recession. But if you own your home or are looking to buy a home, it’s not in a recession for you. Housing prices are not falling, rents are not falling. Rents are rising at a 10% rate, and this is by no means what a recession looks like. The median house price is down, but that’s down in part because of the composition of sales. It’s down over the month, but over the year it’s still up nearly 7%, 8%. It’s a very unusual, confusing combination of different forces going on right now. This will change if we’re in a recession in the overall economy — then housing prices will decline, but we’re not there yet.
Taking into consideration all the hurdles that Biden and the Democrats have faced over the past 2 years, a Bloomberg analysis has concluded:
Measured by real GDP alone, growth under Biden is 0.6 percentage points slower than by the GDP/GDI average — and 1.3 points below the 4% growth rate for GDI. It’s still the best since the Clinton years. For Donald Trump, the growth hit is smaller but puts him in last place among the presidents listed here. Quarterly GDP data is only available back to 1947, which is why this chart starts with Eisenhower, but annual data show that GDP growth under Trump was the slowest since Herbert Hoover’s less-than-successful presidency.
— Bloomberg, Biden’s Economy Has the Best Growth Record Since Clinton, by Justin Fox, August 31, 2022
I fear that Democratic voters are going into the midterms in a defensive mode. The talk of crime and the economy is framed by Republicans as a weapon. And it should be — for Democrats. It is time that Democrats stop the handwringing and mumbling about our “loss of enthusiasm” for the Biden Administration and begin to realize its accomplishments in the face of enormous odds. Biden has opted to offer his last best years in service to his country, knowing the way would not be easy — knowing success would not necessarily be followed by appreciation. So as Biden is kicking Putin’s butt, leading us through the waning stages of the pandemic, and managing a dicey economy with a steady hand, he is righting the ship of state- — with barely an oar. No, he isn’t young, and yes, he is a bit past the politician use-by date. But he is not an addled Ronald Reagan guided by astrologists, not a Trump rife with incompetence and seditious plans. His experience on the world stage is unmatched in modern times. He has led in the passage of the most consequential legislation since LBJ and FDR with the narrowest of margins in a Congress filled with obstructionist Republicans.
Their record on crime and gun violence has been abysmal. The consequences reverberate in statistics that show that mass shootings in the U.S, peaked in the last three years of the Trump Administration with 1364 mass shootings compared to 986 for the same period in the previous administration. Returning to Senator Tuberville’s rant quoted at the top, we might counter that the “little lie” that Democrats are “soft” or “pro” crime is disproved by those stubborn things called facts. Same goes for the economy whose growth under Biden is near double that of Trump and better than either of the preceding Republican administrations (Bushes I and II,)
“…the state of facts and evidence”
Democrats should give Republicans no quarter on any of the issues in play for the midterms. If anything, the GOP deserves to reap the ire of an American public they have abandoned for the favor of the wealthiest among us.
The lie, the really big one, is that they are one of us.
The GOP’s stance on other issues is as bad or worse. Climate change, gun violence, civil rights, and, voting rights, are among the issues in opposition to the will of the majority of Americans. Democrats should own the moral and political high ground come November.
As Carl Sandburg once famously wrote, “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.”
The thumping and yelling we hear are the sounds of Republicans tapping out their lies in code. Democrats should be on the offensive this final push to election day. There are no such things as “alternate facts”. John Adams said it best, and we should repeat his words often:
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
― John Adams, The Portable John Adams