Democrats’ risky attack on the rules

This week: April 19, 2021 The Briefing, Vol. IX, Issue 16

  • How the parties will frame issues in 2022
  • Democrats’ court-packing bill is an own-goal
  • Harassment settlement makes New Mexico’s Dem governor a target

Outlook: The battle lines for the 2022 midterm are currently being drawn. Republicans begin with an advantage simply because Joe Biden is in the White House and the president’s party almost always fares poorly in the off-year. Democrats will be looking to hold them off — to preserve narrow majorities in both the House and Senate.

Democrats’ pitch to the public is therefore critically important. They appear to be focusing, on one hand, on big spending packages (such as the latest stimulus, the expansively defined “infrastructure” bill, etc.) and on the Jan. 6 riots on the other hand. They will represent themselves as the nation’s generous benefactors, while at the same time demonizing the Right as dangerous extremists.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it was their losing strategy in 2010. But there is major difference this time — there is no massive economic crisis this time on the scale of the 2008 financial crisis. Unemployment is squarely in the single, not double, digits. Moreover, the economy can be genuinely unleashed whenever states are ready to reopen. (In the unlikely event that there are still lockdowns going in late 2022, Republicans will surely use this against their opponents. It’s not something Democrats can allow to let happen.)

For Republicans, the spirit of the Tea Parties is dead and gone. Their campaign will not focus on the Randian economic themes of 2010, nor will they dwell upon the possibility of paying their deadbeat neighbors’ mortgages. At this point in the coronavirus crisis, nearly everyone has reached into everyone else’s pocket.

Rather, Republicans will campaign this time  on issues related to culture and to public safety. They will blame Democrats for the ongoing the sharp spike in crime, pointing to their desire to defund the police. They will blame Biden for the current border “crisis” — the criticism appears both credible and fair, with even Biden now giving in and using the word “crisis” — and they will appeal to voters to stick it in the eye of wokeness in general by throwing leftists out of office. 

Court-packing: Republicans will also surely raise issues of fairness. Democrats so far this term have been helping them make that case. They will argue that Democrats want to rig elections, change Senate rules to ram through leftist policies with the tiniest majorities, create new states to get themselves extra senators, and pack the courts. That’s a pretty powerful message.

the issue of court-packing, which Democrats have shown they will engage in whenever they are given a sufficient majority in Congress. That’s a frightening prospect that can be invoked during the election season as an appeal to voters’ sense of fair play.

The House-proposed court-packing bill, which would add four justices (just enough to give liberals an edge) evinces a party that only cares about the rules when it is winning. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s disingenuous explanation that he is “unpacking” the court demonstrates his worldview that there is something wrong with the Supreme Court unless it is undoing conservative reforms and making arbitrary, goofy liberal decisions at every turn. 

This is nothing short of an attack on judicial independence. That’s what makes it such a good, life-saving issue for down-ticket Republican candidates in 2020, and that’s what’s going to make it such a good political issue for them in 2022.

Liberals are nostalgic for the complete control of the Supreme Court that they enjoyed as of the turn of the century, when only three out of the nine justices could be considered conservatives. Today, the swing-justice is John Roberts, who for all his flaws is not Anthony Kennedy or Sandra Day O’Connor. The Left can’t handle it.

With nearly all liberals now having migrated to the Democratic Party (recall that in times past, some of the most liberal justices were Republican appointees), they are now making it court-packing a partisan question. 

There won’t be enough support to pass the 13-justice measure through either house, and Biden’s court-packing commission represents more an exercise in placating the far Left than anything else. However, recent experience has shown that what the far Left demands today will become part of the Democrats’ typical agenda tomorrow. It will be the job of Republican candidates to make voters aware of this possibility during the 2022 cycle.

Governor 2022

New Mexico: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D, was once being considered for the Biden administration. Now she is in the unique position of being a woman forced into a legal settlement on serious “Me Too” allegations. 

This month, her gubernatorial campaign paid out a five-figure settlement to a man whose crotch she allegedly grabbed through his pants while laughing during the 2018 campaign. This incident took place in front of other campaign staff, according to her accuser.

This settlement could potentially leave the governor vulnerable, because the accuser evidently had a good enough case to force her to pay out $63,000. 

New Mexico’s Republican Party is typically hapless, but it has the ability to win an occasional election, as demonstrated by the long career of Sen. Pete Domenici, George W. Bush’s 2004 victory, and the 2010 and 2014 wins by former Gov. Susana Martinez, R.  

Senate 2022

Kentucky: Is the Democrats’ problem in Kentucky their failure to be left-wing enough in previous election cycles? Is this why they have lost control of both Senate seats, the state legislature, and most statewide offices in the last ten years? 

We might get a chance to test that theory if Charles Booker wins the Democratic primary and gets to run against Sen. Rand Paul, R. Booker, who narrowly lost his 2020 primary to the disastrously expensive candidacy of Amy McGrath, released a launch video falsely denouncing Georgia’s “Jim Crow” voter law and endorsing the Green New Deal.

North Carolina: Former Gov. Pat McGrory, R, entered the race for the open Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Burr. So far, this sets him up for a race in which his most formidable and chief opponent is likely to be conservative Rep. Mark Walker, R. However, one still cannot discount the possibility that Lara Trump, daughter-in-law to the former president, could jump in and shake up the Republican primary. 

Recall that McGrory narrowly lost his re-election as governor in 2016, despite victories in his state by both Burr and Trump that year. This may not indicate that he is the strongest possible candidate. 

Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in North Carolina since the late Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., won in 2008. But Republicans have no grounds for complacency, as Democratic influence in the state has kept it close in recent presidential and Senate races alike.