How Democrats may have blown their chance to seriously dominate US politics after the Jan. 6 insurrection
After the January 6, 2021 insurrection, some pundits were predicting the death of the MAGA movement. But that didn’t happen; the GOP has only grown more extreme, more Trumpified and more authoritarian, declaring that even arch-conservative Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming isn’t right-wing enough. President Joe Biden, meanwhile, continues to suffer from weak approval ratings, and Republicans have a very good chance of recapturing both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in the 2022 midterms.
Liam Kerr, in an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on January 7, argues that after the Capitol insurrection, Democrats had a golden opportunity to seriously crush the MAGA movement — and they blew it. Kerr is a co-founder of The Welcome Party, an organization that believes an alliance of independents, centrist Democrats, swing voters and Never Trump conservatives is the key to defeating Trumpist extremism.
“It’s hard to overstate just how significant an opportunity January 6 initially represented for Democrats,” Kerr writes. “Donald Trump’s anti-democratic movement had, in violent and grotesque fashion, paraded its true colors in front of the nation and the world. In the aftermath of the attacks, the Republican Party shed 12 points in favorability among its own voters while Democrats made a 7-point gain with independents. A disgraced Trump was banned from Twitter and Facebook, his loudest megaphones. Even some of Trump’s most ardent and vocal propagandists from Fox News acknowledged in private that the president had crossed a serious line.”
Kerr continues, “Democrats were handed a chance to win over the middle of the country. Instead, the biggest recruitment story in the aftermath of the insurrection was the far-left trying to recruit candidates to knock off a fellow Democrat.”
The fellow Democrat that Kerr is referring to is Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and the progressives who wanted to primary Manchin as well as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona were the No Excuses PAC.
“Three weeks after the January 6 insurrection, a high-profile faction on the left launched an aggressive recruitment campaign looking for candidates to primary a vulnerable incumbent,” Kerr explains. “The recruitment target? Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, fresh off casting his vote to impeach President Trump. The recruiting entity? An offshoot of Justice Democrats, the progressive group aligned with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That’s right: The founders of Justice Democrats went on the offensive against Manchin — immediately after the insurrection — in an attempt to find a more liberal West Virginia Democrat to primary him.”
Kerr adds, “West Virginia is one of the reddest states in the country, making Manchin an electoral miracle; if the group were to be successful in its effort to oust him with a left-wing primary challenger, that challenger would lose to any GOP nominee in the general — meaning that these progressives watched the January 6 attack on democracy and decided that what America needed was one more Republican senator.”
When Biden defeated Trump by more than 7 million votes in the 2020 election, he did so with an anti-MAGA coalition that ranged from liberals and progressives to Never Trump conservatives. Kerr stresses that progressives alone are not going to defeat Trumpism and that Democrats will need the support of centrists, independents and “Red Dog Democrats” (conservatives who voted for Biden) in swing districts.
Kerr writes, “Not all is lost…. There’s Will Rollins, a former aide to Gov. (Arnold) Schwarzenegger, who credits January 6 with his decision to challenge GOP incumbent Ken Calvert — who supported Trump’s attempts to overturn the election. And Ben Samuels, a former advisor to Republican (Massachusetts) Gov. Charlie Baker, who cites the insurrection in his decision to do the same. It’s not enough. But having a couple dynamic former aides to Republicans running as Democrats to knock out authoritarian-abetting GOP incumbents is a good start. More please.”
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