Jim Crawford: Let the campaign begin

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 17, 2022

Election 2022 is under way and will dominate all non-pandemic news in the months ahead. The campaign ads have already reached your TV. Republican, Democratic and Trumpian fundraisers have launched multi-media campaigns.

So, barring new jarring events, we can see the campaign messages and political strategies that all three groups plan as their winning strategies.

Republicans have the most manageable tasks for 2022 as the paper-thin Democratic congressional majorities will likely follow the traditional trend that the governing party loses seats in the off-year elections, giving the Republican Party, possibly, majorities in both the Senate and the House.

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But Republicans have not relied upon tradition alone to recapture their majority; they have had remarkable success in expanding their gerrymandering in several states.
Check off another Republican goal accomplished. Gerrymandering will certainly give a boost to Republicans in 2022, but that is not the only edge Republicans achieved in preparation for winning the mid-term election. Republicans also fine-tuned election laws in over 20 states to reduce voters, particularly voters who likely would not vote Republican. More Democrats than Republicans voted by absentee ballot in 2020, so it was necessary for Republican legislatures to reduce absentee voting opportunities.

But the most interesting element of the Republican campaign for 2022 is that the party is not running on any issues that deal with governing.

Instead, their campaign will focus upon one Big Idea: Revenge.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly told his caucus that he will not offer a legislative agenda for the campaign, instead urging all those running for re-election to campaign against Biden administration policies.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has threatened revenge on specific Democrats he will remove from their committees and has promised to begin investigations on any Big Tech companies that provide information about Jan. 6 to Democratic investigators.

McCarthy also used the “R” word, saying, “a day of reckoning” will come to President Joe Biden. Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has promised Republicans will impeach Joe Biden, “whether it’s justified or not.”

Democrats hope to run on the booming economy and the hoped-for passage this year of the Build Back Better plans, filled with issues and benefits that all resonate in public polling. But their plans may not overcome the Republican tinkering with who gets to vote in 2022.

And Democrats may not pass any version of Build Back Better, leaving them with limited achievements for their stewardship while governing.

The other significant problem for Democrats is that their strong Black voter base may stay home if Biden cannot pass a voting rights bill into law in response to the Republican successes in red states to reduce their vote. That challenge may also be too big a lift for their slim Senate majority.

Will voters reject the Republican plans to undermine the Biden administration without planning on governing simply? Will the Democrats fail to use their majorities to pass meaningful legislation? Most importantly, will Republican attempts undermine trust in the vote to make the 2022 election a claim of victory in any and each defeat?

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.