If we needed proof that Republicans live in a different world than most of the voters, the most recent elections provided it.
Republicans in New Jersey talked long and loudly about capturing at least one house of our legislature. They were confident and then the votes were counted. The Democratic state senate stayed in place by a 25 to 15 margin and the assembly majority gained at least five seats. Campaigning against transgender kids, health education in schools and a winking nod to the book banners was not a formula for success. The GOP in New Jersey and other states worked themselves into a lather pushing these views. They were convinced by talking to each other.
Virginia’s Republican Governor Youngkin had ambitious plans for new abortion restrictions when his party took control of both houses of the state’s legislature. The Republicans hoped not only to curb abortions but also to cut tax rates, weaken environmental protections and make it more difficult to vote. The voters thought and acted differently. Youngkin thought a ban on abortions after 15 weeks was the key to winning and he aggressively campaigned on that premise. The voters said, no, the decision on abortion is not the government’s.
Ohio’s anti-choice crowd worked hard at stopping a referendum enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution. First, Ohio Republicans held a costly special election in an attempt to make it more difficult for voters to amend the state constitution. In a resounding failure for the Ohio GOP, voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposal, opting to keep the current method of passing citizen-led amendments. Now, the Ohio Republican legislators are showing their true colors by saying they will ignore the will of the voters and prevent state courts from considering the changes in the state constitution. Ignore the votes? What a novel concept.
In Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear won a second term as Kentucky’s governor after Republican PACs targeted “transgender rights” and in an example of their extreme insensitivity, told voters that Beshear would bring “the $ billion Transgender Industry” to their state. Voters didn’t buy it.
An expensive race for a state supreme court seat in Pennsylvania went to Democrat Dan McCaffery who voiced strong support for abortion rights.
Why is this happening? Republicans seem to be talking to each other and not the voters and that echo chamber causes a distortion in reality. Witness Tom Kean Jr. of NJ 7 who ducks both the press and his constituents at every chance. He then votes for a budget bill which not only would have cut basic safety net services favored by a large majority of voters, but also cuts $750 million and 80,000 slots from the Head Start Program, an anti-poverty program widely viewed as successful.
The new speaker of the house, Mike Johnson, wants to cut social security and food programs. Who told him this was a popular idea? His fellow hard-right colleagues and his well-heeled donors, that’s who. Apparently, he doesn’t talk to real people.
Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President and hard ball senator from Texas, once said the one skill a politician has to have is the ability to count. Republicans seem to be able to do that, but only in limited groups of those who agree with them.