For Democrats, the good news just keeps rolling in. Last night, Kansas rejected a constitutional amendment to ban abortion by about 20 points. Yesterday, after the GOP tried to kill the bill last week, the Senate passed a bipartisan measure to provide medical benefits to veterans who were exposed to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the weekend, the Biden administration killed the leader of Al Qaeda who was also one of the masterminds of 9/11. Last week, they passed as bipartisan bill to increase the manufacturing of computer chips in the United States. At the end of June, Congress passed the first significant piece of gun control legislation in decades and the bill had Republican support. Last night, I paid $3.36 a gallon for gas after prices fell for 50 straight days.
The timing of these victories gives Democrats a boost as they head into what should be a difficult midterm. The GOP has a structural advantage as the party out of power in the first national election following the election of a president. However, Republicans are quickly defining themselves as the a party outside of the mainstream. The party’s rush to impose draconian anti-abortion measures helped push that image but their initial opposition to the burn pit legislation was a self-inflicted wound.
Joe Biden has fulfilled his promise to bring the parties together to pass significant legislation. He started with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act last year and now has three significant bills this summer that passed with Democratic and Republican support. Democrats need to drive that message home in the coming weeks and see if they can’t get his approval rating up. If Donald Trump had similar successes, he would be holding rallies all over the country.
Now, Democrats need to pass the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Joe Manchin’s bill provides major climate change legislation that voters, especially young ones, want. That said, they need to start blaming Republicans for opposing the bill instead falling back on blaming Kristin Sinema if she refuses to support it.
And finally, I think Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan was a major political coup. After years of demonizing her as being some sort of commie radical from San Francisco, Republicans were the ones praising her while Democrats were the ones protesting the stop. Mainstream, middle-of-the-road voters are watching China have a temper tantrum over her visit while conservative Members of Congress and pundits are all cheering her on. That sure makes her look more moderate, or at least more nuanced, than Republicans want.
Going into November, the Kansas vote seems to indicate Democrats need to make the midterms a referendum on abortion instead of a referendum on Joe Biden. It’s a bit of a lift, but Republican legislatures, attorneys general, and governors are making it easier. They’ve argued that 10 year-old rape victims should give birth to their rapists children. They’ve put the viability of fetuses above the lives mothers. They are trying to ban birth control and day-after pills because they want to enforce their religious belief that life begins at conception on a secular nation. If Democrats can put wrap those positions around GOP candidates, they may be able to turn the midterm into a decent year.
Democrats have done a poor job of celebrating their victories and making the case for their achievements. Now, they have an opportunity to redeem themselves. They need to loudly brag about their victories in Congress. They need to wrap Republicans around the extreme positions that the party is embracing, especially on abortion. And they need to hope that gas prices keep going down, or at least don’t go up dramatically. If the trends continue and they don’t screw it up, Democrats might just beat the odds.