Democrats need to tell the story of the anti-democratic nature of the Republican Party.
Last week, I wrote that Democrats are simply terrible at telling stories that highlight a policy position while weaving it into a greater tale of Democratic beliefs. That particular post was focused on Democrats complaining that the GOP was using tactics far worse than what Republicans accused Democrats of doing to pass the ACA in passing the AHCA. Rather than focusing on GOP hypocrisy, Democrats should be focusing on how this process is part and parcel of Republican attacks on our democratic processes over the last two decades.
Democrats are again failing to create a real story when it comes to the revelations about the depth of Russia’s attempt to interfere in our election. The bombshell Washington Post report on Friday detailed the unfolding intelligence about Russia’s hacking and the largely inadequate response of the Obama administration to those attacks largely out of a two-fold concern. First, the administration worried that openly confronting the Russians would escalate the attacks even further and disrupt the election by editing the voter rolls in some of the 21states’ election systems they had breached. And additional and equally important consideration for the administration was that it did not want to look political and attempting to influence the election.
And, in typical fashion, Democrats are circling the firing squad, blaming Obama for not letting the American public know the details of Russia’s efforts before the election. Adam Schiff, who has actually been magnificent in the Russia investigation, is quoted in the Post article as saying he felt “cognitive dissonance” from the Obama administration in its reluctance to confront the Russian hacking, saying, “The administration doesn’t need congressional support to issue a statement of attribution or impose sanctions.” Ron Wyden also commented, “I am troubled learning this new information that the Obama administration didn’t do more.” And Chuck Schumer tried to move the focus to the Trump administration present inaction on Russia, saying, “If Donald Trump wants to do something about Russia and Russia meddling, instead of saying Obama didn’t do enough, support our sanctions bill.”
This is truly pathetic. By August of last summer, the Obama administration was concerned enough to start contacting state election officials in the hopes of getting them to agree that the state voting systems be designated “critical infrastructure”, allowing the states to receive federal assistance on cybersecurity. The reaction was not positive and the Georgia Republican Secretary of State is probably indicative of his GOP peers, saying, “I think it was a politically calculated move by the previous administration”, and denounced the idea as an infringement of states’ rights. Unsurprisingly, the Georgia system apparently remains open to hackers to this day, creating concerns about the validity of the special election that Democrats lost there last week.
When that effort failed, the Obama administration went to Congress in the hopes of getting a bipartisan statement describing the Russian attack. According to the Post report, “In early September, Johnson, Comey, and Monaco arrived on Capitol Hill in a caravan of black SUVs for a meeting with 12 key members of Congress, including the leadership of both parties. The meeting devolved into a partisan squabble. ‘The Dems were, ‘Hey, we have to tell the public,’’ recalled one participant. But Republicans resisted, arguing that to warn the public that the election was under attack would further Russia’s aim of sapping confidence in the system. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) went further, officials said, voicing skepticism that the underlying intelligence truly supported the White House’s claims…Key Democrats were stunned by the GOP response and exasperated that the White House seemed willing to let Republican opposition block any pre-election move. A week later, McConnell and other congressional leaders issued a cautious statement that encouraged state election officials to ensure their networks were ‘secure from attack.’ The release made no mention of Russia and emphasized that the lawmakers ‘would oppose any effort by the federal government’ to encroach on the states’ authorities.”
That is the entire story for Democrats to tell in a nutshell. When confronted with evidence that Russia was attacking our country and interfering in our democratic processes, Republicans chose party over country. And when confronted with evidence that state voting systems might be compromised by an attacking foreign government, Republicans were more concerned about maintaining their power to purge voter rolls and restrict minority voters than actually repelling the attack on our country.
As we have seen, the Russians were attacking our country to help Republicans get elected, not just Donald Trump. And the GOP leadership knew it. And to this day, the Republican leadership refuses to respond to these Russian attacks. They have obstructed and slow-walked the entire investigation into the Russian hacking and are now resisting the effort to impose additional sanctions on the Russians for this attack and also thereby allowing the President to roll back existing sanctions without any Congressional sign-off.
And now we are seeing the GOP media machine go into full gear suggesting that collusion with the Russians during the campaign is perfectly fine because it is not a “crime”, with one Fox newscaster saying, “You can collude all you want with a foreign government during an election”. Brit Hume also made similar comments, saying, “Collusion, while it would be obviously alarming and highly inappropriate for the Trump campaign, of which there is no evidence by the way, of colluding with the Russians. It’s not a crime.” I’m pretty sure that receiving foreign funded free media in support of a candidate is a violation of federal election law, but Republican already think that foreign money in US elections is fine. More importantly, collusion with the Russians would be aiding and abetting the enemy in an attack on our democracy and our country. And that is a crime. Taking the Fox News position to its extreme, there would be no “crime” in Trump asking the Russians to invade the US and install him as dictator.
We all know that if the shoe were on the other foot, Republicans would be screaming “treason” and they would finally, in this one instance, be correct. Why is it so hard for Democrats to say what everyone can see as plain as day. When the Russians attacked our country and our democracy, the Republicans refused to defend the country but played a partisan political game instead. But this fits in with the decades long pattern of Republicans attacking our democracy in order to win partisan advantage from stealing the 2000 election to attacking minority voting rights to extreme and illegal partisan gerrymanders to destroying governing norms to stealing control of the Supreme Court.
It’s a story that is so easy to tell and ties together various threads of Democratic opposition to the Republican party. I know that some Democrats can not and will not go as far as saying treason right now, but they can at least point out the choice that the Republican leadership made to opt for partisanship over country and show that this is a choice the GOP has made for decades. The story of the anti-democratic nature of the GOP ties together that party’s attacks on voting rights, abortion, labor rights, the destruction of democratic norms, and a host of other issues into one consistent story. Democrats need to tell it.
Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on June 26, 2017.