This OTYCD post originally appeared in June 2018. With Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden gaining support from Republicans and Independents, it makes sense to re-run this story now.
Welcome Independents, Libertarians, and typically Republican voters who plan to vote for Democrats.
We live in weird times. We have a manifestly unfit person sitting in the Oval Office. The second that Trump finished the oath of office on Inauguration Day 2017, his business entanglements put him in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, making him impeachable.
Still more evidence for impeachment has piled up since then, but the Republican-controlled Congress hasn’t started to begin to consider thinking about bestirring itself to do its job and remove Trump from office.
Once upon a time, Republicans did the right thing and threatened President Richard Nixon with impeachment over the Watergate scandal, prompting him to resign. Today, tribalism is stopping the Republicans from doing the right thing with Donald Trump. It’s shameful. History will judge them harshly for it, and so will voters.
Some Alabamians who normally vote Republican realized that staying home would not be enough during the December 2017 special election for Senate. Some–admittedly a minority–went to the polls and voted Democrat for the first time in their lives to do their bit to stop Republican Roy Moore from winning.
People across the country who don’t normally vote for Democrats are coming to the same conclusion that Republicans in Alabama did. They’re watching Trump’s antics, and watching Congress do nothing, and realizing they have to act by voting for candidates who will do what their party will not.
They’re starting to speak up publicly as well. Consider this March 2018 piece from The Atlantic, by Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes, of Lawfare, who both describe themselves as “true independents”. Bluntly titled Boycott the Republican Party, it counsels Americans to methodically vote for Democrats to send a message to the GOP in hopes of getting it to straighten up and fly right (pun not intended):
“So we arrive at a syllogism:
(1) The GOP has become the party of Trumpism. (2) Trumpism is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law. (3) The Republican Party is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.
If the syllogism holds, then the most-important tasks in U.S. politics right now are to change the Republicans’ trajectory and to deprive them of power in the meantime. In our two-party system, the surest way to accomplish these things is to support the other party, in every race from president to dogcatcher. The goal is to make the Republican Party answerable at every level, exacting a political price so stinging as to force the party back into the democratic fold.”
On June 7, 2018, the Washington Post reported on a poll that shows that around a quarter of Republicans favor candidates who will act as a check on Trump.
Here’s the piece:
And here’s the key passage:
“Perhaps the most interesting part of this poll, though, is that more than a quarter of Republicans want candidates who will act as a check on Trump. On net, Republicans were 11 points more likely to say that they would be turned off by a candidate acting as a check on Trump, but it’s still the case that 27 percent would be encouraged to vote for a candidate willing to check Trump. That even as Republicans support candidates who support Trump on policy issues. By more than 60 percentage points, Republicans are more likely to support candidates that stand with Trump on taxes and immigration. But they’re nearly split on candidates who stand up to Trump generally.”
And since we at OTYCD drafted and queued this piece, more longtime GOP supporters have publicly defected and called for others to join them.
Steve Schmidt, a high-ranking GOP strategist who helped elect George W. Bush, worked on John McCain’s 2008 campaign, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial campaign in California, quit the party. On June 19, 2018, he tweeted (and it’s now his pinned tweet):
29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump.
Read stories on Schmidt quitting the Republican Party:
On June 22, 2018, prominent conservative George Will, who won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1977, put out a blunt column installment in the Washington Post titled Vote Against the GOP This November.
He hasn’t decided he likes the Democrats. He doesn’t, and he won’t. His call to vote Democrat this fall is intended as the corrective Trump needs, and which the GOP-controlled Congress has been too feckless to give. Here’s the final paragraph from the piece:
“In today’s GOP, which is the president’s plaything, he is the mainstream. So, to vote against his party’s cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation’s honor while quarantining him. A Democratic-controlled Congress would be a basket of deplorables, but there would be enough Republicans to gum up the Senate’s machinery, keeping the institution as peripheral as it has been under their control and asphyxiating mischief from a Democratic House. And to those who say, “But the judges, the judges!” the answer is: Article III institutions are not more important than those of Articles I and II combined.”
Read Will’s full column:
This is where you come in.
If you know someone who doesn’t normally vote for Democrats, but who gets that they must in order to right the GOP and provide a check on Trump, you need to be welcoming and gracious toward them.
In other words, don’t be an asshole, and be extra-careful not to come off as an asshole to these people.
Don’t assume they’ve gone all liberal and progressive because they’re going to vote for Democrats this fall. They haven’t.
Respect the fact that these folks wouldn’t vote this way under normal circumstances.
Respect the fact that they think differently about politics than you, and respect the fact that they’re doing what needs to be done for the sake of our country, and our democracy.
Also, keep your interactions pleasant and fun. Don’t bring up politics unless they do, and if they do bring up politics, let them lead the conversation. Be supportive. Commiserate.
After Labor Day, start talking about plans to go to the polls together. Offer a ride. Offer to have lunch or buy a drink after you both vote. If it makes sense, offer child care or offer to cover a shift for your friend if it will help them reach the polls on November 3, 2020.
Also, do not say “Thank you”. Seriously. It’s not appropriate because it could be read as insulting.
Think about it–should you get a cookie for stepping up and blocking a wannabe dictator from destroying our democracy? No, it’s the right thing to do. If someone has decided it’s time to cast a punitive vote against their home party, they would definitely be offended at the notion that they deserve praise for doing it.
Instead, you can say, “I look forward to the days when we can go back to disagreeing with each other.”
If you want to show lasting gratitude to those who don’t normally vote for Democrats, but are doing so to send a message to the GOP, you can do this:
You can promise to listen to them.
Not just now, in the breach, but going forward, too.
Listening to them does not mean agreeing with them. It does mean making a good-faith effort to hear out those who don’t share your view of politics, and trying to understand them.
Here, again is the March 2018 piece from The Atlantic that urges Republicans to boycott the GOP and vote for Democrats:
And here, again, is the June 2018 Washington Post story on the poll on what sort of candidates Americans are likely to support in the midterms. In addition to 25 percent of Republicans favoring candidates who would provide a check on Trump, the story says that voters, in general, were 25 percentage points more likely to vote for a candidate who promised to push back against the president:
Read December 2017 stories from Newsweek and the Washington Post on how Republican affiliation has fallen by five points since Trump was elected:
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