Jon Queally, Common Dreams
Progressive leaders and Democratic Party supporters are raising last-minute alarms over the unparalleled catastrophe that would result if the Republican Party—an organization many see as a creeping fascist force in the United States and on the world stage—manages to win control of one or both chambers of Congress in Tuesday’s midterm election
From their economic and ideological commitments that make Republican lawmakers the most enthusiastic supporters of continued corporate dominance of American society to their open embrace of anti-democratic policies designed to disenfranchise voters, suppress civic participation, and disembowel the power of the working class, this year’s slate of GOP candidates and the party apparatus taken as a whole, say critics, will deliver “nothing good” for the financial wellbeing of most working families while setting the stage for a future where roadblocks to even modest progressive change in the United States become more deeply entrenched than ever.
As polls consistently show the economy as the key issue for most voters this election season, business leaders and Democratic Party supporters David Rothkopf and Bernard Schwartz explained in a Daily Beast op-ed Friday that the GOP’s record on management of the U.S. economy has been consistently horrible over recent decades. Compared to Democrats, Rothkopf and Schwartz write, “History tells a very stark tale.” They continue:
Ten of the last 11 recessions began under Republicans. The one that started under former President Donald Trump and the current GOP leadership was the worst since the Great Depression–and while perhaps any president presiding over a pandemic might have seen the economy suffer, Trump’s gross mismanagement of Covid-19 clearly and greatly deepened the problems the U.S. economy faced. Meanwhile, historically, Democratic administrations have overseen recoveries from those Republican lows. During the seven decades before Trump, real GDP growth averaged just over 2.5 percent under Republicans and a little more than 4.3 percent under Democrats.
Beyond such macroeconomic trends, Jacobin‘s Branko Marcetic warned in a Friday column of the “all-out assault on the working class” that Republicans are planning if they win. That plan includes attacking the ability of workers to organize, targeting key programs like Social Security and Medicare for draconian cuts, provoking war with China and others, eviscerating abortion rights at the federal level, and further deregulating both Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry even as inequality soars alongside the planet’s temperature.
“Though both parties are hostile to a working-class agenda,” acknowledges Marcetic, the GOP plot “to hobble worker organizing, stoke war, accelerate climate disaster, and tear apart what’s left of the U.S. social safety net will, without serious resistance, herald major suffering and setbacks for working Americans.”
In the state of Wisconsin, where Democrat Mandela Barnes is facing off against incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, Sen. Bernie Sanders said Friday night that the key swing state offers an example of why the midterm choice for voters nationwide is “very clear” in terms of which party is on the side of workers.
“I hope people come out in large numbers to vote,” Sanders said, “especially young people, working people, to understand that this is the most consequential midterm election in our lifetimes.”
Reproductive choice as economic freedom
Defenders of reproductive rights, meanwhile, are trying to make sure that voters recognize the direct connection between access to abortion care and economic mobility, especially as a federal abortion ban looms if Republicans take Congress in 2022 and then regain the White House in 2024.
“Denying a woman access to abortion tends to harm her economic security and well-being,” notes political activist Trudy Bayer in a Saturday op-ed for Common Dreams. “And the long-term economic impact on the lives of women denied access to abortion includes not only the expense of raising a child but doing so with significantly lower lifetime earnings, compared to women able to abort an unwanted pregnancy. Lower-income women and women of color bear the most severe economic effects of being denied an abortion.”
“Corporate greed and private profit”
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, and Karen Dolan, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, argued in the Guardian this week that despite “its stated purpose,” the Republican Party agenda must be seen for what it truly is: “a commitment to corporate greed and private profit.”
As Rothkopf and Schwartz point out, the “last time the Republicans were in charge, during the Trump years, they passed precisely one significant piece of economic legislation, a tax cut that benefited the very rich at the expense of everyone else.”
“Republicans are just plain bad at managing the economy,” the pair continues, “They have been for as long as anyone who is alive can remember. And they continue to be—although they are achieving previously unattained new levels of cynicism and obstructionism that make the current crowd of Republicans look even worse than their very unsuccessful predecessors.”
With such threats so clearly before the nation, wrote Barber and Dolan, “These times call for a real ‘commitment to America’ that moves us toward the promise of what we want to be. Toward a nation where the well-being of all of our children and families is guaranteed. A society where all workers have dignity and living wages, paid leave, healthcare, and the right to unionize.”
“Couldn’t care less” on climate
On the planetary front, observers acknowledge a GOP win “could spell doom for climate policy,” with Republicans openly vowing to reverse even the not-nearly-enough progress Democrats in Congress and the Biden administration have made over the last two years to reduce emissions and jumpstart a more rapid transition to renewable energy.
“At a time when we face the existential threat of climate change,” Sen. Sanders said last month that Republicans “couldn’t care less.”
With that in mind, Sanders called on people to do everything possible to “increase voter turnout” and openly challenge the Republicans. “This election is not just about you, it’s not just about me,” he said. “It’s about our kids and our grandchildren. And we cannot fail them.”
“Stakes for democracy could not be higher”
When it comes to the Republican assault on voting rights and election integrity—especially as large portions of the party have embraced the “Big Lie” of former President Donald Trump which falsely claims the 2020 was stolen—democracy defenders like Fred Wertheimer, founder and president of Democracy 21, warn the “stakes for democracy could not be higher” as he called the threat from the GOP on this front “real and extremely dangerous.”
According to Wertheimer:
[We]are headed for midterm elections where hundreds of Republican election deniers are running for Congress and state offices, vigilantes are attempting to intimidate voters from casting their ballots, election workers are being trained to tilt elections to Republicans, and Republican candidates are refusing to commit to accept the results of next Tuesday’s elections.
Thus, the Republican candidate for governor in Wisconsin proclaims that, if he is elected, “Republicans will never lose another election” in the state. The import of his statement: the election rules in Wisconsin will be rigged in the future to ensure only Republicans win.
In widely-shared article that appeared in Common Dreams last year, political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. saidit was “time to be blunt” as he warned about an openly fascist GOP which smelled “blood in the water” with a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court and in the wake of Trump’s destructive tenure in the White House.
“The right-wing political alliance anchored by the Republican party and Trumpism coheres around a single concrete objective—taking absolute power in the U.S. as soon and as definitively as possible,” wrote Reed. “And they’re more than ready, even seemingly want, to destroy the social fabric of the country to do so.”
With the midterms now just days away, numerous progressives agree the “Big Lie” temper tantrum that has infected the GOP proves “democracy is on the ballot” this year and former labor secretary Robert Reich argued earlier this week that the midterms ultimately is about “whether U.S. democracy can endure.” While all the policy concerns related to a GOP sweep of Congress are legitimate, said Reich, the future strength of representative democracy represents a ‘huge existential question’ for voters, regardless of party affiliation.
“The extraordinary, abominable challenge we now face—one that I frankly never imagined we would face—is that the Republican Party and its enablers in the media and among the monied interests appear not to want American democracy to endure,” he wrote.
“My friends,” Reich pleaded to readers, “we owe it to generations before us who fought and died for democracy and the rule of law, and to generations after us who will live with the legacy we leave them—to get out the vote next Tuesday, to vote out the traitors and liars, to renounce the party that has forsaken the precious ideal of self-government, and to vote in people who are dedicated to making our democracy stronger and better.”