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We need not accept the sordid world Trump left us

Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker addresses the crowd of supporters during a campaign stop on October 20, 2022 in Macon, Georgia.  (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker addresses the crowd of supporters during a campaign stop on October 20, 2022 in Macon, Georgia. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

The Republican candidate within striking distance of representing New Hampshire in the United States Senate contends that schools are providing litter boxes in classrooms to accommodate students who identify as cats.

The GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in Georgia claims he never met the woman who says he paid for her to terminate a pregnancy, even though she is the mother of one of his children.

The slick TV huckster running as a Republican for the Senate in Pennsylvania peddles fad diets and hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID, squandering whatever reputation he once had as a physician.

The Republican nominee for governor of Arizona denounces drag queens as a threat to the moral order even though she was a regular for 20 years at Phoenix drag shows and invited her favorite drag star to perform at her home during a birthday party and a baby shower.

The party of Lincoln has decided that being unmoored from reality is a winning political strategy.

Forget the policy threats posed by the current crop of Donald Trump impersonators: The party of Lincoln has decided that being unmoored from reality is a winning political strategy. How else to explain that the majority of Republicans in midterm races have denied the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, which Joe Biden won by 7 million votes. Six of those candidates are running to become the official who supervises elections in their states.

President Biden was not being hyperbolic when he warned on Wednesday night that the future of democracy itself is on the ballot this year. “There are candidates running for every level of office in America — for governor, Congress, attorney general, secretary of state — who won’t commit, they will not commit, to accepting the results of the elections that they’re running in,” the president noted in a nationally televised address. “This is the path to chaos in America. It’s unprecedented. It’s unlawful. And it’s un-American.”

And, he could have added, it might work.

In a New York Times/Siena College poll last month more than a third of independent voters and 12% of Democrats said they would consider supporting a candidate who has rejected the outcome of the 2020 election.

Why should rejection of the lie that Biden stole the election be uppermost in the minds of voters who are worried more immediately about the loss of abortion rights, about crime and rising interest rates, who are being hit hard by the cost of groceries, gas and fuel to heat their homes? The bloody insurrection spawned by the Big Lie on Jan. 6, 2021 and the appalling reaction of far too many Republicans to the violent, politically motivated assault on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ought to be answer enough.

In what kind of America is there no consequence for politicians spinning homophobic conspiracy theories and snickering like schoolyard bullies about an attack with a hammer that left an 82-year-old man in the intensive care unit with a shattered skull? In what twisted frame of mind did Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney of New York think it would be amusing to tweet “LOL” alongside a photograph of young men holding large hammers beside a rainbow flag while Paul Pelosi was still in the operating room?

This is the sordid world Trump has left us, but we need not embrace it.

Voters are rightly worried about inflation, school shootings, the cost of prescription drugs and Ukraine’s desperate struggle for survival. But none of these stellar Republican candidates are proposing solutions to any of those problems. In fact, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told donors the lack of a Republican policy agenda this year is intentional; their sole electoral strategy for the midterms is attacking Biden.

Without a shared allegiance to the democratic process, there can be only a stalemate on the pressing social, economic and foreign policy challenges confronting the nation.

The incumbent, by contrast, has been delivering on his promises. The popular Inflation Reduction Act, passed last summer with no GOP support, empowers Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs and limits to $2,000 the annual cost of medication, capping the cost of insulin for Medicare recipients at $35 a month. It also includes tax credits and subsidies for clean energy programs to combat climate change. Other bills signed by the president provide billions for roads and bridges and to fund research and semi-conductor production to strength the U.S. technology industry in its competition with China. He also signed the first major gun safety bill passed by Congress in three decades, expanding background checks and the power to remove guns from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.

There are, of course, unmet goals. There is no comprehensive immigration reform bill in sight. No paid parental leave. No universal pre-kindergarten or permanent child tax credit to help low-income families. Wins and losses in a divided Congress are the norm. Obstruction for its own sake is not.

Without a shared allegiance to the democratic process, there can be only a stalemate on the pressing social, economic and foreign policy challenges confronting the nation. Without a commitment to free and fair elections and to robust political debate, there can only be distraction, disruption and theatrics, masquerading as governance.

Biden was right the other night when he warned “we’re facing a defining moment, an inflection point.”

Vote.

Follow Cognoscenti on Facebook and Twitter.

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Eileen McNamara Cognoscenti contributor
Eileen McNamara is an emerita professor of journalism at Brandeis University. The author of a biography of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, she won a Pulitzer Prize as a columnist for The Boston Globe.

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