A Picture of American Power

It’s Also American Power. How is this line of Russian tanks that have been destroyed a picture of “American” power? Certainly the counter-offensive in Southern Ukraine that allowed the Ukrainians to retake Kherson puts an exclamation point on the courage, effectiveness, and brilliance of the Ukrainians in combatting the Russian invasion.

And that’s certainly the case.

At the same time, Ukrainian prowess also serves as a real time demonstration of American global pre-eminence. Russia remains a threat because of its nuclear stockpile, but it’s now clear that Russia isn’t strong enough to count as a primary or even a secondary rival to the U.S. The Ukraine invasion bogged down within a couple weeks as it became apparent that the Russians had a bad plan, bad tanks, and a poor command and control set up as well as unmotivated, untrained conscript troops. After 9 months, the Russian air wing still doesn’t have control of Ukrainian air space and the Russian navy has not been able to impose itself from the Black Sea. To the contrary, U.S. weapons, communications and political leadership have all been demonstrated to be top notch and are far superior to anything Russia has to offer. Before the Ukraine invasion, American military superiority was questioned after more than 30 years of being essentially unchallenged. But it’s been proven yet again that the U.S. military far outstrips its rivals in almost every way.

The Troubles. But if American military pre-eminence is more striking than ever, the U.S. is also an troubled, unstable, and potentially very dangerous country. America is a nation of unrivalled wealth and power with severe problems and the 45,000 annual gun deaths, raging opioid epidemic, decreasing life spans among the majority white population, and increasing wealth disparities have been getting worse. The military may be superior, but investment has fallen behind in almost all non-military sectors of American society and U.S. transportation, education, and health care do not compare well to other advanced industrial countries. Perhaps worse, the refusal to invest in these areas is now baked into the American political cake and there’s very little in the way of proposals for solutions or political will to change the situation.

Chronic Instability. American government and society have also become unstable during the seven years since Donald Trump announced his candidacy in 2015. On Jan. 6, 2021, the United States came very close to having its government and constitutional system overthrown as a result of the MAGA assault on the Capitol. If MAGA insurrectionaries had caught Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, and other Representatives and Senators, they would have carried out a massacre and kept Donald Trump in office as an authoritarian dictator. Insurrectionary pressure kept up throughout 2021 and early 2022 as Republicans placed more voting restrictions on Democratic constituencies, overturned the abortion rights guaranteed by the Roe v Wade decision and ran candidates eager to overturn future elections while also developing a new language of “groomers” and “pedos” to accuse LGBT’s, teachers, doctors, and Democrats more generally of conspiracy to sexualize and seduce young children. However, the most insurrectionary initiative of post-Jan. 6 Republicans was to refuse vaccinations against Covid. By refusing vaccination, rural Republicans in particular showed that they are willing to sacrifice their lives to refuse cooperation with a Democratic administration AND the large multicultural, socially liberal majority in American society.

The United States has become chronically unstable because of the relations between the three layers of the right-wing ecosystem. For the sprawling sphere of conservative/fascist activism, the main question is whether they’re willing to violently overthrow American government and society to bring American society back to the patriarchy and white supremacy of the White American Republic, i.e., “take back our country.” For the insurrectionaries who assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the answer to that question is an obvious “yes” and the same is the case for Christian dominionists, election conspiracists, gun absolutists, and the wide variety of anti-black, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, and anti-feminist fascists who are active in Republican politics and right-wing activism. For other activist conservative groups like CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) and Tucker Carlson of Fox News, the U.S.does not need a violent takeover and the right can establish a Hungarian style authoritarian regime if MAGAs could win couple more national elections. Whether it’s through violence or Hungarian style authoritarianism, most GOP activists seem committed to overthrowing the democratic political system in the U.S.

The larger layer of Republican voters and top layer of GOP elites and officeholders are much more attached to American political institutions and much more ambivalent about the idea of overthrowing democracy or returning to 1950’s style segregation and patriarchy. At present, that bottom and top attachment to traditional political institutions keeps GOP activists somewhat in check. However, it’s easy to imagine insurrectionist fervor boiling over again and the United States will be an unstable country as long as conservative activists are itching for new opportunities to overthrow the Constitutional system.

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The Crisis of Western Civilization?

I don’t know whether right-wing talk radio guy Jesse Kelly is punitive, authoritarian, or a Trump/DeSantis fascist. Maybe he’s all three. But Kelly’s certainly worked up about the attack on the Berlin airport by the climate group “Last Generation.” Perhaps Kelly was already wound up about the attacks by climate activists on Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” and Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring” and seems to view the “communist hordes as on the march. Kelly’s eagerness to punish is standard American white conservatism and much of the reason why the U.S. hands out such long prison sentences. But Kelly’s also concerned with “Western Civilization” as a social and political entity and is highly suspicious of the ability of “Western Civilization” to defend itself against the “Last Generation” and other “climate communists.”

But what is “Western Civilization?” Therein lies a problem. The idea of Western Civilization with which I grew up was part Ancient Greece and ancient Israel coming together in the Roman Empire, part civilization being “lost” during the “Dark Ages” and then re-emerging during the Renaissance (or was it the Late Middle Ages?) to form the Western Civilization with all the accomplishments in art, science, and philosophy along with the global political and military power that created initially by colonization. For U.S. conservatives, America is the high point of Western Civilization because it had a Constitution that assumed human equality and protected rights to freedom of speech, the press, political assembly, and religion. U.S. conservatives are especially proud of the active role of Christianity in American society and consider the United States as particularly blessed by the Christian God of the West.

It doesn’t take much effort to punch holes in the whole narrative of Western Civilization and most historians don’t bother with the concept. How the flag of Western Civilization ended up being carried by Great Britain and the United States is one of history’s mysteries. In fact, the culture of the Ancient Greeks played out in Constantinople rather than Rome and it was the Romans who ended Athenian democracy with Rome’s sack of Athens in 86 bce. Then there’s the inconsistency in the treatment of various countries. Spain was seen as part of “the West” for colonization but not for subsequent colonial rule let alone the Inquisition. Italy was also dropped from the West a couple times with the Fall of Rome and then the end of the Renaissance before reappearing at the end of WWII. The story of Western Civilization seems to be identified with Protestantism because France gets short shrift compared to England and Great Britain.

What’s striking about conservatives and Western Civilization is that American conservatives like Jesse Kelly identify strongly with Western Civilization train but are also profoundly ambivalent about the “progressive” elements that developed in Western Europe and the U.S. after the American Revolution and might be more accurately considered as “out” of the story of Western Civilization (to the extent there is one). Two of the main points are extending principles of equality beyond white men and the inclusion of Western Civilization into what’s shaping up as a global culture. The first is when societies in Western Europe and North America extended the idea of freedom and rights from white men to women, racial minorities, and sexual minorities. Within American conservatism, there is considerable pressure to roll back both the recognition of black people, Jews, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, and LGBT people as full human beings and the gains made by all these groups over the last 60 years. The pressure has been particularly intense on transsexuals and other LGBT folks but has made life more difficult for marginalized people in general. Recent mass shootings of black people in Buffalo, Hispanics in El Paso, Jews in Pittsburgh, and a gay club in Colorado Springs represent just the surface of the right-wing rage at people enjoying rights against traditional bigotries. In this sense, American conservatives have revolted at the universal rights of Western Civilization becoming any more universal than they were during the 1770’s and refused to accept Western Civilization as it developed through the first two decades of the 21st century.

The second point concerns Western Civilization and a developing global culture. Overlap was inevitable. Spain, Great Britain, and France had global empires from the 16th through the 20th centuries and U.S. and European institutions have dominated politics and the global economy since WWII. The globalizing impulse was understood first as the “civilizing mission” and then “Americanization” but few anticipated the extent to which Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King would be thought of together as exemplifying the highest standards, the global impact of American movies, jazz and hip hop, or the spread of anime, K-Pop, and voodoo to the United States and Western Europe. There was even less anticipation of the decline of Christianity in Europe and the United States and the openness of Western societies to both “non-Western” religious practices, holidays, and immigrants.

Conservatives reject all of this and much more. They passionately reject Western Civilization as it’s developed in the United States and Western Europe and they just as passionately reject the thickening links between mainstream American culture and other globalizing cultures. Jesse Kelly insults American, Western and global culture by calling it communism but the depth of white conservative rejection is expressed by the extent that conspiracy theories, gun culture, and the religious right have developed into a counter-culture that embraces traditional patriarchy, white supremacy, and male predominance, rejects science, and embraces violence as one of the good and necessary things in life in the manner of Southern plantation owners.

Trump and What Musk Needs to Do

Jamie Squire/Getty Images;Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Getting down to basics. When Elon Musk unbanned Donald Trump from Twitter, he offered Trump an extremely valuable in kind donation to Trump’s 2024 primary battle against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It’s a big deal. DeSantis won big in the Nov. 8 mid-terms beating his Democratic rival Charlie Crist by almost 20% and leading Florida Republicans to a thorough beatdown of Democratic candidates in the Sunshine State. Given that Trump-backed candidates (outside J.D. Vance) mostly lost their races, DeSantis has been looking like a winner while Trump is beginning to look more like a has-been, and is now trailing DeSantis in polling for the 2024 GOP nomination. With Musk unbanning Trump from Twitter, Trump now has access to a giant Twitter platform that also commands attention from the mainstream news media and would multiply his ability to dominate media coverage and get his thoughts and image out before the Republican base.

But Trump has already announced that he won’t go back to twitter and there are complications that Musk will have to deal with if he actually wants Trump back. The main complication is that Trump’s return could be a big financial boost for Musk as the owner of the twitter platform. If Trump resumed his previous twitter activity, that would increase traffic on the platform, possibly attract advertising from conservative and Christian businesses, and help Musk in his efforts to convert twitter “users” to twitter “subscribers.” By inviting Trump back, Musk isn’t just supporting “free speech” and undoing the “injustice” of Trump’s original ban. He’s trying to stabilize his investment in twitter, make twitter more profitable, and enhance his own wealth and reputation.

And Trump hates that.

Part of Trump lore is his distaste of other people making money off the Trump name and Musk profiting from Trump’s prolific tweeting would likely be an unwelcome prospect.

Other things may be eating at Trump as well.

When Musk initially made the twitter deal on April 25, he promised to immediately revoke the ban on Trump but failed to do so. Musk completed the twitter takeover on Oct. 27 but didn’t revoke Trump’s ban for more than 3 weeks on Nov. 19. Even then, Musk only revoked the ban after a b.s. online poll (and I’m sure Trump had stronger words than that).

No respect for Trump.

Moreover, Musk has never supported Trump politically. He supported HILLARY! over Trump in 2016 and resigned from a couple government boards over Trump withdrawing from the Paris climate treaty. Of course, Musk would eventually withdraw from the Democratic Party over California covid restrictions, but still supported Andrew Yang during the Democratic primaries

In other words, he wasn’t supporting Trump.

Trump likes people who are “nice,” views people not supporting Trump as not being “nice,” and hates being nice to people who aren’t nice to him.

Elon Musk has never been “nice” to Trump.

Queried about who he would support in the 2024 GOP primary now that hes a ‘Republican,

Musk puckishly replied “DeSantis.

Trump doesn’t like puckish people. They’re “wise guys.”

And he doesn’t like people supporting DeSantis for President. People who support DeSantis aren’t being nice to him.

Remembering the likelihood of Musk benefitting from Trump being on Twitter, what does Musk do? I would suggest several things–

Send Trump an engraved invitation. He’ll like that

A couple testimonials to Trump’s contributions to Making American Great Again. Be sure to use the slogan.

A telephone call with an apology for not unbanning Trump sooner.

Also a BIG contribution to Trump’s PAC.

But that might not get it done.

It’s worth remembering that Donald Trump has a huge sociopath’s ego.

So, if Musk wants Trump on twitter, he might have to endorse Trump’s candidacy for president in 2024as well as admit that he was wrong about Trump in the past.

Getting on his knees and begging to Trump might also help.

Locking in Big Changes: the 2022 American Mid-terms

John Stoehr of the Editorial Board believes that the Dem will overthrow “the political order of the last 40 years” if they can hold the House of Representatives after all 2022 votes are counted. Of course, a big win for Biden and the Democrats has been unfolding and the consequences of the Dems expanding their Senate majority and possibly holding the House are significant. Because of the 2022 election, the U.S. will both be a more stable country and maintain its current global role as a stabilizing force in Western Europe, East Asia, and Ukraine. But the idea of “overthrowing the political order” implies consequences on a much larger scale than that and needs to be thought through.

That’s partly because there are several ideas of “political order” that may be in play.

The main question is what would be the political order of the last 40 years that’s being overthrown. Forty years refers to the Reagan Revolution and the election of 1980 where Ronald Reagan’s victory triggered the assertion of white conservatives as the dominant force in American politics and society and inaugurated several rounds of tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation of business, decline of the labor movement, and growing income inequality between the rich and the middle class. During the Reagan years, white men were advantaged politically, culturally, and economically while the claims of racial minorities, sexual minorities, and women were met with increasing skepticism if not outright derision.

Call that the orthodox model of the “Reagan Political Order.”

*But there are other ways to look at the idea of political order. If I were a conservative Straussian, I might refer to the U.S. in terms of a “liberal political order” including the representative form of government established in the 1788 Constitution, universal ideas of freedom (“all men are created equal”), and both broad and expanding rights to vote, hold office, serve on juries, and own property. In relation to this idea of “liberal political order,” the Reagan Revolution and 2022 mid-terms would both be seen in terms of redistributions of power toward white conservatives and away from liberal/minority factions. However, nothing would be “overthrown” by the Democrats maintaining their slim institutional advantage of holding the presidency and the senate while Republicans dominate the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives. It would just be that the liberal/minority coalition holds some advantages within the “liberal political order” while white conservatives hold others.

It’s also possible to view the traditional American political order as a “white republic” or “white patriarchal republic” in which constitutional processes concern the distribution of office among factions of white men and white women, racial minorities, and sexual minorities are subject to exclusion, surveillance, and control. Thus, Reaganism can be seen as reasserting white and male dominance in the face of the Black civil rights movement, feminist advocacy against patriarchy, gay rights activism and the claims of immigrant and Native Americans. Far from overthrowing the white patriarchal republic, the Reagan Revolution is best seen as reinforcing white patriarchy as a long-standing socio-political order. But there was a big difference between Reaganism and the re-assertion of white patriarchal order after the end of Reconstruction in 1877. With the end of Reconstruction, the gains of reconstruction were much more thoroughly negated and black opponents of the white patriarchal republic were much more thoroughly marginalized than was the case with the Reagan Revolution. During the Reagan years, the opponents of white patriarchy were put on the defensive but civil rights activism, feminists, gay rights protests, and labor unions formed a more or less permanent internal opposition to the dominant white conservative faction. White patriarchy may have asserted its dominance, but opponents of white patriarchy were able both to preserve large parts of the gains made as a result of the Civil Rights Acts, Roe v Wade, and various Warren Court decisions and maintain effective defenses of that legacy. As a result, the Reagan political order was defined both by a reassertion of the white patriarchal order and opposition between ascendent white conservatives and their liberal, minority, and feminist opponents.

In other words, the liberal/minority coalition remained strong enough to be considered them part of the main dynamic of the Reagan political order.

There’s another consideration for the Reagan order. The big question hanging over Reaganism was whether white conservatives could maintain their domination of their domestic opponents. That’s because the stakes were bigger than the distribution of power between conservatives and their opponents. Ascendancy by the liberal/minority opposition would not just give “liberals” the upper hand, it would threaten the white patriarchal character of the American republic as it had been defined in the Revolutionary and Constitutional period. Hanging over the Reagan political order was the specter of the United States becoming a very different kind of country than it had been for the previous 200+ years, a country that did not revolve around white men.

To a certain extent, that’s what happened.

Because Barack Obama initially posed himself as a GOP-friendly Democrat AND aggressive reformer, his election in 2008 did not initially represent a sea change in American politics and society. But Obama was the first black president, the symbol of America, the nation’s most prominent celebrity, and someone on the news everyday. After the civil rights movement, white conservative tolerance for black people was always tethered to blacks only having a token presence in areas outside sports and music. With Obama and other prominent black people like Attorney General Eric Holder being so “present” in American life, the result was a racist backlash that could be seen during the 2008 general election campaign and gained steam throughout Obama’s first term as a result of the “birther movement,” conspiracy theories about Obama’s wife, the Henry Louis Gates incident, the murder of Trayvon Martin, and conservative stonewalling of Obama’s initiatives. The backlash ensured that 2012 would be a test of strength between a stronger liberal/minority coalition and white conservatives who wanted “their country back” to white patriarchy with a token black, Hispanic, woman, and LGBT presence. With Obama’s victory in 2012, much more favorable opinion on gay marriage, the Supreme Court decision overturning bans on gay marriage, and the Black Lives movement highlighting police violence against black men, it looked like American culture and politics was swinging to liberal/minority ascendancy over white conservatives and the threats that entailed to traditional white patriarchal order.

Of course, the 2016 election happened with the white conservative backlash gaining even more intensity under the MAGA label and Donald Trump winning election. The result was both a factional arms race and major cultural changes on both sides. Beginning with the gay marriage decision in 2015, the liberal/minority coalition continued to strengthen in response to Trump’s election and morphed into something more like a multicultural, socially liberal society. With the expanding presence of civil rights ideas, the adoption of diversity as corporate and popular culture ethics, and the normalizing of an LGBT, Hispanic, and Native presence, the lib/minority coalition became multicultural, socially liberal and predominate enough in politics, business, education, and government that the U.S. could be described as a multicultural, socially liberal “society.”

Simultaneously, white conservatives developed what’s best called a MAGA counter-culture revolving around Trump and involving an overlapping religious right, a quickly developing conspiracy world, and gun culture that superseded the business oriented, small government, and national defense conservatism of the Reagan era. Even with the acquiescence of traditional Republicans and the advantages of President Biden and other Democrats being off the campaign trail because of Covid, the multicultural, socially liberal constituencies were stronger than MAGA and Donald Trump lost his campaign for re-election in 2020. For white conservatives, the defeat of Donald Trump did not signify his or their weakness but served to further energize 2020 election conspiracy theories, rejection of Covid vaccines, another round of vote suppression legislation aimed at black voters, and a culture war aimed especially at trans people but also against other LGBT folks and their supporters in education, business, and government. In this way, MAGA morphed from a slogan for supporting Trump to support for the Jan. 6 insurrection, political violence to achieve their political goals, and non-stop culture war against multicultural constituencies connected with the Democrats.

In other words, MAGA became a cover term for a more generalized white conservative assault on American government and society that’s best seen as permanent insurrection. The Reagan Political Order has definitely overthrown but it was just as much overthrown by MAGA as it was by the morphing of the Reagan era liberal/minority coalition into a multicultural, socially liberal “society.” White conservatives are still a bulwark for the white patriarchal Republic of the past but their main orientation is toward culture war against the contemporary society rather than defense of “tradition.” Indeed, in contemporary culture and politics, “tradition” is being re-defined in civil rights, multicultural terms.

So what do Democratic gains in the 2022 elections mean? Well, current political order is one in which a multicultural, socially liberal society both remains ascendent and is continuing to weaken the reach and appeal of traditional white patriarchy in favor of values of civil rights values and orientations. But white conservatives still have formidable power bases in the Supreme Court, right-wing state governments, and MAGA popular culture and have more or less committed to overthrowing the American democratic system if they can’t win political power at the ballot box. The Reagan political order has been overturned but the dangers associated with white conservatism have increased dramatically as a result.

Democrats Blowing Out the Insurrectionists

Society vs Backlash. America has been destabilized by two broad and related developments, the evolution of a multicultural, socially liberal mainstream and a bitter backlash among white conservative best seen in terms of permanent insurrection. Politically, the Democrats are the party of multicultural mainstream America and indeed the civil rights, diversity politics of the Democrats has been one of the main vehicles for creating and defining that mainstream. But politics is also important for understanding the destabilizing and dangerous white conservative backlash. As America’s conservative party, the Republicans have been a focus of backlash since Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and backlash phenomena like MAGA, QAnon, the Big Lie, the re-articulation of bigotry as “anti-woke,” and the campaigns against transsexual teens and drag shows are intimately connected with GOP politics.

Politics of Insurrection. The assault on the Capital building in Washington was an attack on the United States on the same level as the Japanese strike on Pearl Harbor that brought America into WWII and al-Qaeda’s attack on New York City, the Pentagon, and the Capitol on 9-11. The American media has under-estimated the extent to which the insurrectionary energy of Jan. 6 continued for more than a year after President Biden’s inauguration. There were many examples of insurrectionary activity, including the continuation of the QAnon movement, all the bizarre conspiracy theories around Covid vaccines, and local insurrectionary activism in places like Idaho. In politics, insurrectionary energy focused around the Supreme Court taking a case that would allow state legislatures to ignore the popular vote in presidential elections, MAGA fascists like J. D. Vance, Blake Masters, Doug Mastriano, and Kari Lake running for governor and Senate positions, and a number of Republican candidates for the state Secretary of State positions that controlled elections in the states. GOP Secretary of State candidates in Michigan, Arizona and Nevada all claimed (one way or another) that Democratic candidates could only win by fraud and promised to attack voting by Democratic constituencies.

Blowing Out the Insurrectionists. Of all the insurrectionists who ran for major office, J.D. Vance was the only one who won and that only happened because of a major injection of cash from Mitch McConnell. Insurrectionist Republican Doug Mastriano lost by 15 in the race for governor in PA, Blake Masters by 5 for the Senate seat in Arizona, and Tudor Dixon by 10 for governor of Michigan. The most prominent of the insurrectionists running for statewide office was Kari Lake in Arizona and she’s currently trailing by 34,000 in a still undecided race and Adam Laxalt has lost in Nevada now that all the votes are counted from Las Vegas. Even more to the point, all of the insurrectionist candidates lost for Secretary of State offices in Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, and Wisconsin. For example, Arizona GOP Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem lost by 5.6%, Kristina Karamo by 14% in Michigan, and Jim Marchant in Nevada by 2% (where the GOP won the governor’s race and only lost in the Senate by 5,000 votes). Insurrectionist candidates like gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels of Wisconsin wanted to guarantee that  “will never lose another election” in their states but were turned back by their Democratic opponents.

When Will Normal Become Normal? Hard left podcaster Matt Christman tweeted that Democrats did well in the 2022 mid-terms because they are the “normie” party and were able to remain “normal” despite determined Republican efforts to “flip that by associating them with crime and immigrants and gender sickos.” Christman added that “[t]his is problematic for people who are obsessed with defining themselves in counter-cultural opposition to the normie mainstream, but ON BEHALF of some imagined heartland “normal” American.” Of course, the “counter-cultural opposition” isn’t much of a force in American life and indeed it seems that multicultural and liberal Democrats have not been able to establish as “normal” even though they were successful in portraying themselves as “more normal” than MAGA Republicans. That’s because the far more powerful force of the mainstream news media agrees with both the counter-culture and Republicans in imagining a “normal America” of small towns, small business, farms, and factories in which the template is white conservatism even though Democrats do make inroads. That’s why the New York Times, CNN, and Politico sent so many reporters trekking to diners, bars, and gun shows since 2016. Like Paul Simon, they all wanted to “look for America” or at least the “normal America” that they thought was Saginaw rather than NYC, Chicago, or Detroit. In 2022, the Democrats were able to portray the MAGA extremists of small town America as threats to democracy but were not able to establish their own multicultural, socially liberal base as the American normal. Even though the Democratic coalition “is” the norm, it doesn’t “seem” to be the norm. And that’s still a problem.

Today’s Election

The Election: Today is the mid-term election for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives with elections for Governors and other state officials all over the country as well as local elections for mayors, sheriffs, county officials, city councils, judges, and a deluge of special voting districts on the local level. In my state of KY, there’s an election for county Judge-Executive, Mayor, County Attorney, Commonwealth’s Attorney and Sheriff. There are no elections for state office, but there are two constitutional amendments on the ballots, one Senate seat (held by Rand Paul) and the member of the House of Representatives from our Congressional District (KY-05). That office is currently held by the worst public speaker I’ve ever heard and one of the most obscure members of the House, long-time Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers.

National Overview: The big question in American politics is whether President Biden and the Democratic Party maintain their very slim advantage in Congress where the tie-breaking vote of VP Kamala Harris gives the Democrats a slight edge in the Senate where seats are evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. In the 435 member House of Representatives, Democrats only have to lose five seats to lose their majority.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, there is a deeply ingrained historical pattern of the president’s party losing seats in mid-term elections and the Democrats are predicted by most observers to lose anywhere from 10 to 43 seats in the House in today’s election. Therefore, the Republicans are expected to have a majority in the House of Representatives and California Republican Kevin McCarthy is expected to succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

The Senate is perceived to be more up in the air but the Republicans are widely seen as favored to take control of the Senate as well. The reputable FiveThirtyEight site views the Republicans as “slight favorites” to take control of the Senate with a one vote margin based on their view that Herschel Walker will defeat Rev. Rafael Warner in Georgia. The Cook Political Report also sees the Republicans as gaining one seat and regaining control over the Senate. So does long-time University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato. Republican observers see the Republicans as having big enough wins that the election looks like a Republican or “red wave.” The right-leaning web site RealClearPolitics predicts that the Republicans will gain three seats and views Democratic Senate candidates in states like Ohio reached the limits of Democratic support but were unable to push through in largely Republican states. Former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich is even more optimistic about a “red wave” and predicts that Republicans will gain five seats in the Senate.

But there has been pushback from Democratic consultants and observer. Christopher Bouzy who is known mostly for his “Bot Sentinel” web site believes that it is the Democrats who “will gain at least two seats in the Senate and hold the House with 2 – 6 seats.” Christopher Bouzy justifies his prediction by citing registration and early voting data which focuses on young voters (18-29), women, and minorities. The idea is that early voting among Democrats is outpacing the high early voting rates in the “blue wave” election which say big Democratic gains in 2018. From Bouzy’s point of view, the increase in early voting means that numbers among Democratic voters compared to Republican voters and the polls thus are underestimating the Democratic vote.

The other argument made by Democratic optimists focuses on the thesis that the polls are over-estimating the Republican vote. Democratic consultant Simon Rosenberg is arguing that GOP polling firms have been “flooding the zone” with polls that are biased toward Republicans and that this has influenced poll aggregators like FiveThirtyEight.com and analysts like Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato to over-estimate support for Republican candidates. A couple days ago, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com admitted that the rush of GOP polls had affected his site’s poll average in favor of Republicans although he saw that more as correcting for the anti-GOP bias that had surfaced in 2016 and 2020 presidential polling. It makes a significant difference as can be seen in a Rosenberg tweet on the Senate race in George where the Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock is trying to hold onto his seat vs former NFL star and Republican Herschel Walker

That’s a 7 point difference that’s not balanced out by “Democratic-leaning polls.” Rosenberg thinks the data supports Democrats but does not venture the same of prediction as Bouzy. Seeing this kind of discrepancy and observing the high rates of early voting among Democratic voters Savvy political observers like Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo and Never Trumper Republican and former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele largely accept both that the rush of GOP polls has biased the poll average and that there’s been a late surge toward the Democrats. As a result, Marshall sees a fairly wide range of possibilities for the Senate elections with the Democrats possibly gaining 2 seats and holding the majority the Republicans possibly gaining 4 seats and thus gaining the majority. For his part, Michael Steele foresees a tight election that has a great deal of variability and think there will be a lot of surprises some of which will be favorable to the Democrats and some to the Republicans.

My own sense is somewhat the same as Steele’s. My suspicions is that this won’t be either a Republican “red wave” or a Democratic “blue wave” election and that there will be a number of surprises going both ways. In relation to national politics, I see three possibilities.

  1. GOP takes the House, Dems keep the Senate. House Republicans are a real threat to default on the national debt, will probably impeach President Biden, and will also keep a lot of Democrats off committees. But it’s likely that the government will remain functional.
  2. GOP takes House, GOP takes Senate. The situation would depend on the extent to which Establishment and MAGA Republicans can work together in the Senate. But the tendency of the national government toward chaos would increase with GOP control over both.
  3. Dems Take House, Keep Senate. This is the Christopher Bouzy scenario that’s still not taken very seriously. But if the Dems keep control over Congress despite mid-term trends, inflation, and higher crime rates, that would allow the Biden administration to keep functioning in its current way and create a great deal of consternation among Republicans. If they can’t win now, when will they ever win?

Kanye, the Mainstream, and “The People”

Joel Osteen, Youtube

After being dropped by Adidas, Kanye West (hereafter “Ye”) responded with a post on Parler:

“I lost 2 billion dollars in one day and I’m still alive. This is love speech. I still love you. God still loves you. The money is not who I am. The people is who I am.”

Like others in search of popular conservative religious/political leadership, Ye stresses his love for “the people” (“I still love you”) and God’s love for the people (“God still loves you”). Likewise, he makes the populist leader claim to identify with the people in a way that assumes that his identification means leadership over the people–“The people is who I am.” By identifying this way, Ye shapes his activism so that his will can claim to be seen as the will of the people. But Ye’s claim pales before Trump’s. Over the last seven years, Trump and his followers have shaped each other to the extent that Trump’s will can be seen as the will of the followers who he also calls “the people.” Ye’s not popular enough and his following is not committed enough to justify his claim that “the people is who I am.” Indeed, the following Ye seeks is already devoted to Trump and Ye is more of a mid-level player in the story of Trumpism than anything else.

I’m sure there’s reasons for Ye’s lack of a following, but I’m stuck on the question of what Ye means by “the people” and how we can think of “the people” in relation to the on-going struggle between the multicultural, socially liberal mainstream and right-wing white insurgency in the U.S. What Ye does NOT mean by “the people” is becoming more clear. Most obviously, Ye is like most Trump supporters in having a version of the people that most definitely does not include black people as he stresses that black people chose slavery, Harriet Tubman didn’t free any slaves, “white lives matter” instead of black, and white men are the world’s most disrespected group. Ye’s so anti-black I’m surprised he didn’t quote the Dred Scott decision on black people having “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

Ye also went all out with his current war on Jews, saying that he was going “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE,” accusing Jews as “[owning] the Black voice” through Black people wearing a Ralph Lauren shirt, “being signed to a record label, or having a Jewish manager, or being signed to a Jewish basketball team, or doing a movie on a Jewish platform like Disney.” Like anti-Semitic bigots worldwide, Ye attributes the same all-encompassing power to Jews as the Nazis did and is apparently acting on his longstanding fascination with Hitler and the extent of Hitler’s power. One has to wonder about the extent to which Ye now approves of the Holocaust.

But what about the long list of constituencies Ye’s offended–black people, white liberals, Jews, women, Adidas, the record industry, the fashion world, the mainstream news media, and social media. For Ye, it’s the Trump right wing and especially the religious right and white men who are “the people” but is there any way to consider the broad and diverse coalition of Ye’s opponents as a “people?”

In the Western world, “the people” is a concept that’s at least as old as the Greek city states of antiquity and was long articulated in opposition to the nobility. What gave an organic quality to the idea of “the people” was the shared life of small-scale farming, the seasonal rhythms of agriculture, the work of the urban trades, and the festivities celebrating planting, the harvest, marriage, death, the seasons, the gods, and local patriotism. Because of the roots of the Trump coalition in agriculture, mining, and small town life, Trump supporters routinely see themselves as the “people.” But the rise of America’s urban belts and major interior cities has created a new dynamic in which urban life and service industries are the central dynamic and small towns and agriculture have become peripheral. Trump constituencies have been further marginalized by their addiction, depression, high rates of suicide and violence and general rejection of social norms, education, and science. In many ways, Trump constituencies are too alienated from society to form a people in the traditional sense. In this way, attachment to the “flag” isn’t so much a representation of their connection to the life of society as a substitute for that connection.

But there are also apparent problems in viewing the whole multicultural coalition as a “people.” If the idea of a “people” relies on a common life, then how can lib/left whites, black people, Hispanics, LGBT folks, Jews, American Muslims, Asian-Americans, and Native-Americans be seen as sharing a common life and thus being a people on that basis? But diversity is not as much an issue as hierarchy and class. People from different ethnic and racial groups do live a “common” life in cities in the sense that they share an urban economy, navigate a common transportation system, and work for a deluge of intersecting government agencies, corporations, mom and pop stores, and small businesses. What primarily diminishes the sense of shared life is the extreme disparities of wealth that make rent so expensive, create homelessness, and create opportunities for specialized consumption and concierge systems that for the elite of wealth.

The U.S. has only been a multicultural democracy since the 1965 Voting Rights Act overturned the legal/police apparatus for excluding black people in the South from voting. Likewise, my sense of the U.S. being a multicultural society and having a multicultural politics did not coalesce until Barack Obama’s second term and especially the 2015 legalization of gay marriage. In this sense, it’s too early as of yet for the various groups to fully coalesce into a “people.” But there are some things that have the effect of increasing the sense of shared commonality among the various groups. Among those are:

  1. Opposition to Trump: Millions of people across the multicultural spectrum participated in the opposition to President Trump and his immigration policies, deference to Putin, and attempted coup against the election of Joe Biden. The term “Resistance” faded but the common cause of “The Resistance” continued to be expressed and had an impact on the 2020 election. Despite Biden’s not engaging in public campaigning and Dems not doing public events and door knocking because of COVID, the Democrats still increased their vote by 16 million and much of that was due to the collective spirit of opposition that had been developing since Trump’s announcement in 2015.
  2. Intersectional ethics: The ethics of fully recognizing those in traditionally marginalized groups as citizens and valuing and embracing the differences among a multicultural population. This can especially be seen in the Democratic Party and their constituencies defending transsexual teens and their families against bigoted attacks from the religious right. It would have been politically advantageous for Democrats to retreat under the banner of “compromise” but multicultural constituencies would not have stood for it and Democratic politicians have assimilated enough of those ethics that they were little tempted anyway.
  3. Embracing Difference. I was 10 years old when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 and remember other white people talk about “toleration” in the sense of enduring the presence of black people and others who were different (Jews, gay people, disabled folks, etc.) even though that presence was not particularly welcome. But the movement of multicultural and socially liberal people has been toward “embracing” difference and being welcoming to people of different races, ethnicities, immigrant, and disability status. The question of tolerance is directed more often at conservatives who are seen as not accepting the common morality
  4. Empathy. A key to a multicultural principle of empathy is that the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes extends to people across racial, gender, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and regional lines. At the same time, the value of empathy extends to caring for people who are traumatized, damaged, or chronically ill. to give a couple of examples from lib/left and black twitter, people have been broadly sympathetic to my growing up in an abusive family and its attendant traumas and there are continuing outpourings of sympathy and compassion for recovering addicts, cancer patients, and people experiencing deaths in their families.

In a way, the United States is developing a situation where two segments of the population are articulating themselves as “the people” in a separate and mutually opposed manner. It’s part of what makes America such an unstable nation at present.

An Incident of Virulent Racism

On Monday, this video of a blonde white woman doing two minutes of racist ranting appeared on twitter. It’s ugly, bigoted stuff and I have a hard time imagining that it was not emotionally harmful to many of the black people sitting in the same subway care or seeing the tirade on twitter. That’s the purpose of hate speech–to wound, damage, discourage, and depress. I’m white and I felt discouraged and depressed listening to that garbage.

From Luci

At the same time, I grew up in an abusive family, am writing a couple chapters on 1830’s/1840’s blackface minstrelsy, and see some familiar mechanisms at work. In blackface songs like J. W. Sweeney’s “Whar Do You Come From” and “Jonny Boker,” the “n-word” was used to humiliate and degrade black people while simultaneously providing white audiences a crescendo of shared pleasure. Every refrain would highlight the n-word as if it was the secret to salvation Shared racism has long been a foundation stone of white culture and my father tried to socialize me into racism as part of his effort to make “a man out of me” while I was a teen in the 60’s.

But the audience for the blonde woman in the subway car was overwhelmingly black and her pleasures in racism didn’t seem to be shared with other white people. Instead, the blonde woman was waging a one woman race war that she was determined to dominate through insulting black people, first by using the n-word 7 times–n-word, n-word, n-word, n-word, n-word, n-word, n-word. I’m not familiar with any writing on the ways in which insults are important to conservative discourse in the United States but white conservatives have been working overtime since the 2020 election to apply new insults like “woke” and “groomer” to intimidate and discomfit their liberal opponents. For the blonde racist, openly using the n-word and other insults like the c-word, “mental retard,” and “Black Vagina” are all ways to aggressively attack her enemies.

Another part of the oppressive power of the blonde woman’s racist speech is the transgression of the widely held norm against openly using the n-word in the U.S. Much of the original power of early blackface came from the transgression of white performers dressing up as black men and black women and the blonde racist relies on the transgressive power of the n-word to pursue her race war against the rest of the subway car. People in the car objected, called her “crazy,” and indicated that the video was going viral but they lacked the legal ability to either enforce the norms against hate speech themselves or access to any kind of police power to enforce the norms on their behalf. Unable to silence the blonde racist, they had to listen to her respond to each of their points by yelling more insults and screaming at them to “SHUT UP.”

I don’t have any solutions in which I’d have confidence. As someone who grew up in an abusive environment, I would conceivably have the ability to yell back. But I generally freeze when these kinds of ugly situations erupt and a reasonable black person might think that responding forcefully to these kinds of racist fanatics just makes the situation worse. So I don’t know what could be done about it.

But I still think it important to take note.

Democrats, Mike Pence, and the “Hang Mike Pence” Party

1. Mike and the Hang Mike Pence Party.

@Mike_Pence, Oct. 19 Freedom is under attack! Having served many years in Washington, leaders in this Nation’s capital have never been more out of touch, more intent on imposing their agenda or walking out on people who don’t have the same point of view.

Mike Pence, Today American Freedom is under attack. Big media, Big Government, Big tech and even Big business have locked arms to advance a pernicious woke ideology designed to control the American people and destroy the American Dream.

These tweets are excerpts from the beginning of former Vice-President Mike Pence’s speech to the right-wing Heritage Foundation on Oct. 19 in Washington, D.C. Mike Pence is one of the strangest figures to ever occupy high political office in the U.S. As straight an arrow as you can find in politics, Pence accepted a VP nomination from Donald Trump while knowing as much as I do that Trump is a pathological liar, con man, rapist, and flaming bigot. Once in office as the VP, Pence spent four years sucking up to Trump in the most demeaning way possible before having Trump approve of the mob trying to kill him for refusing to overturn the 2020 election. Even more weirdly, Pence travels around the country shaking hands, kissing babies, and giving speeches for all the world like he thinks he can win the 2024 nomination of a political party certain to renominate chief insurrectionist Donald Trump.

Why would Mike Pence want to be the head of the “Hang Mike Pence Party?”

2. Democrats in Touch with Public Opinion. I’m interested in the relation between the Democrats and the claims in Pence’s tweets. Of course, the truth is the opposite. Democratic leadership is more in touch with public opinion than any administration in recent history. After Pres. Biden proposed his far-reaching 3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” legislation in 2021, public support for all the various items in the bill was over 50% and in the 70’s for expanding Medicare. Indeed, what public opinion on Build Back Better revealed is that independents were almost as interested in large-scale legislation as Democratic voters. The people with whom Biden, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi are “out of touch” are the 30% of conservative voters who hate government, science, and anything that would benefit poor and minority voters so much that they oppose legislation that would benefit themselves.

3. Democrats Imposing a Popular Agenda. To the contrary, Pence writes that “Leaders in this Nation’s capital have never been more out of touch, [or] more intent on imposing their agenda.” One of the things that’s characterized GOP leadership and voters is a sense that white conservatives have become a smaller part of the population and the Republican Party itself is losing touch with urban/suburban majorities. That’s reflected in opinion on a large range of culture war issues as well. Support for reinstating Roe v Wade for the country as a whole is at 60%, gay marriage 71%, stronger gun control 52%, women in the military 66%, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants 71%, and opposition to restrictions on transsexuals at 64%. Majority and super-majority opinion on all of these cultural issues reflects the extent to which civil rights values have become mainstream in the United States and the extent to which white conservative opponents are now a permanent minority. In 2021-2022, the Biden administration and Congressional Dems have found ways to pass over the Senate filibuster and united opposition from House Republicans to enact their agendas on the pandemic, climate, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, computer chips, and guns. In other words, the Democrats are in touch with popular opinion and “imposing their agenda” on behalf of majorities. The Democrats represent public opinion and have effectively translated public opinion into far-reaching legislation.

4. Civil Rights as Official Morality. In many ways, Civil Rights has been the official American morality on race, gender, LGBT issues, Native Americans, immigration, and disability since the 1950’s-1960’s black Civil Rights Movement and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There aren’t any well known histories of how so much came under the moral umbrella of Civil Rights but there has been a broad forward movement as more populations came under the umbrella of Civil Rights and various modes of white conservative resistance have weakened over time. To give a couple examples, the idea among white people in the 1960’s was that they would need to “tolerate” the presence of black people in “their” schools, stores, restaurants, neighborhoods, and the like. But the ethic of tolerance has given way to an ethic of “embracing” diversity and valuing all groups and cultures whether that’s racial and ethnic groups like black people and Hispanics, various religions like Islam, Hindu (Happy Diwali!), and Buddhism, and the varieties of sexual orientation and gender identity. Likewise, (heterosexual) whites are no longer considered THE reference point for a social ethics of multiculturalism as they used to be as late as the early 2000’s when our daughters were in elementary school. Black people, Hispanics, LGBT folks, and Native Americans, and other groups are routinely seen as defining reference points of their own. Given that the majority of white Americans identify with either conservatism or the extreme right, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see white people as a reference point for multiculturalism at all.

Pence claims that “Big media, Big Government, Big tech and even Big business have locked arms to advance a pernicious woke ideology” with “woke” serving as a way for conservatives to insult civil rights ethics. In fact, the major institutions of American society do have “official” ethics of valuing racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, and gender diversity, being interested in the history of black people and Native Americans in the United States, the various cultures of immigrants, and transnational cultural connections between cultures in the United States and abroad. “Big Media, Big Government, Big tech, and even Big Business” are also interested in veteran’s status, disability status and accessibility.

Pence isn’t kidding about big business. According to Delta Air: “Thoughtful action combined with a focus on championing diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and within our personal lives will play a healing role to help us keep climbing.” Likewise Walmart has “a vision of a workplace culture at Walmart and Sam’s Club where everyone is included – one where associates with unique identities, styles, experiences, abilities and perspectives are understood, supported and championed by their leaders.”

Being the party of civil rights, the Democrats are also the party of the inclusive ideology that is becoming more and more characteristic of American corporations.

In other words, Democrats are on the right side of American social morality as well as public opinion.

In Praise of Democrats

Andrew Harnik/AP

Contemporary Democrats are as admirable a political party as ever existed in the U.S. Animated by a civil rights ethic, the Democrats have been a multicultural coalition for decades and have expanded their horizon to include defending, appreciating, and promoting the interests of the whole range of LGBT folks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans, the disabled population, and legal and undocumented immigrants. The first black president was elected as a Democrat and so was the first woman to be Speaker of the House. The Democrats nominated the first woman for president, and nominated and elected Kamala Harris as a black/South Asian woman for Vice-President. Likewise Deb Haaland became the first Native American cabinet officer. Indeed, the Democrats have incorporated a broad diversity of women at all levels of political leadership. As the Democratic Party became more broadly American and the GOP retreated from “national” views, the Democrats have also become the “national” party for a multicultural nation and the only “America First” party in international affairs. The America represented by Democrats is identified both in the U.S. and globally with the best America has to offer.

I just want to sketch out a few of the things the Democrats have done and a little of what’s involved in their accomplishments. Since the election of Trump in 2016, Democratic officeholders have raised their game and become more forceful in any number of ways. It begins with the Biden administration. They’ve carried out a legislative agenda for transferring wealth to the poor and middle class, addressing climate change, and making massive investments in infrastructure. The Biden people also broke the bipartisanship barrier by refusing to countenance the delaying tactics of Susan Collins and GOP moderates. Likewise, Pres. Biden upped his rhetorical game to attack the MAGA brand as a form of fascism and an imminent danger to American democracy. At an advanced age, President Biden realized that Republican office holders were unrelenting opponents instead of his “friends and colleagues.” That’s a huge step forward in Democratic Party political culture and Biden has governed accordingly The same is true of Congressional Democrats, Democratic staffers, and the more liberally minded media. Concentrated in D.C. and New York, the Democratic apparatus long saw themselves as having much in common with their white conservative counter-parts, but have followed Democratic voters in leaving a sense of common culture with conservatives behind.

The Biden administration has also done an excellent job of orchestrating American support for the Ukrainian war effort. U.S. intelligence interpreted the Russian intent to launch a full scale invasion of Ukraine early, engaged in a smart political campaign to deter the Russians, and held off full support for the Ukrainians until Ukrainian government and society showed that they were willing to fight. American support for Ukraine has been large-scale and well-timed. The Biden people have shown a great deal of subtlety in prodding reluctant countries like France and Germany to increase their commitments to Ukraine while also giving encouragement to smaller NATO members like Poland and Norway. That subtlety also extends to Biden’s dealings with Russia. The Biden have come pretty close to full tilt in backing Ukraine without doing anything that would provoke a nuclear escalation by Russia. Ukraine is a delicate situation and the Biden administration has played it extremely well.

The Jan. 6 Committee is an example of the extent to which Democrats (with help from Cheney and Kinzinger) have developed outstanding skills at staging events. The Committee and its staff sifted through mountains of documents, texts, cell messages, interviews, and other materials, constructed a dramatic narrative out of the materials, and kept their focus on Trump as orchestrating the whole range of electoral coups leading up to Jan. 6. Cassidy Hutchinson’s appearance was the high point of the Committee’s presentation but the Jan. 6 Committee also made outstanding use of the William Barr, Pat Cipollone, and Eric Herschmann testimony, and every one of the hearings has been a high-profile event. The object of the Committee was to get to the truth of the Jan. 6 Insurrection, they succeeded in accomplishing that goal, and they have been extremely effective in doing so.

Another Democratic leader who’s raised her game is Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi’s long been a great legislator whose public presence suffered from her average speaking skills. But since returning as Speaker in 2019, Pelosi has put it all together. Combining her “I’m All That” shades and red coat after meeting with Trump after the 2018 elections, her FU clapping after Trump’s 2019 State of the Union Address, and dramatically ripping up Trump’s 2020 State of the Union, Pelosi completely owned Trump for the last two years of his term. It’s easy to forget that Donald Trump is all about dominating any human encounter, but Trump’s penchant for domination meant that Pelosi’s “winning” all their major interactions was a very big deal. To cap her performance as Trump-era speaker, Pelosi took over as a kind of acting president while marshalling outside help to combat the Jan. 6 Insurrection.

Of course, Joe Biden’s inauguration as President meant that Pelosi was no longer D.C.’s most important Democrat. But she delivered the House of Representatives for the Biden agenda at every turn and pushed to shape House legislation in the most aggressively Biden direction possible. With Pelosi at the helm, a slim Democratic majority in the House passed the American Rescue Act to counteract the economic effects of the pandemic, a large-scale infrastructure bill, gun control legislation, the CHIPS Act to bring microchip production back to the U.S. from China, and the wide-ranging Inflation Reduction Acts. These bills all became law and it was BFD’s all around. The American Rescue Act provided a cushion that was a big help for poor and lower-middle class people dealing with unemployment, lower income levels, increased medical expenses, and the stress of the pandemic. Biden’s Infrastructure agenda was the first large-scale investment in infrastructure since the 60’s, gun legislation the first since the mid-90’s, and the Inflation Reduction Act was the first systematic approach to climate legislation while also containing serious reductions to health expenses.

And that was the legislation that passed by the Senate and became law. The House also passed a boatload of legislation that wasn’t brought up for votes in the Senate because of the filibuster. That includes far-reaching voting rights legislation like the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act that would have brought back the Voting Rights Act, authorized same day voter registration, eliminated gerrymandering, and otherwise enshrined the expansion of voting as the most important priority of electoral law. The House also took the same aggressive, wide-ranging approach to legislation protecting abortion rights. Not only did the bill to codify Roe v Wade define abortion rights as the law of the land on abortion, it banned all the restrictions on abortion rights that had been passed by conservative states since 1973. Rolling back the 60’s and 70’s has been a mainstay of white conservative politics for the last two generations but Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leadership team, and the House Democratic caucus have shown that they have every intention of “rolling back the roll back.”

This post has largely ignored the impact of Democratic initiatives on the 2022 elections. Indeed, the controlling issue for the 2022 mid-terms is likely to be inflation. But whatever the outcome of the mid-terms, the Democratic leadership has shown themselves to be highly capable.