“An old playbook”: Why Democrats are uninterested in entertaining GOP culture wars
National Dems are betting that voters are looking for adults in the room who are focused on getting things done in these uncertain times not what the White House describes as “political stunts.”
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FIRST THINGS FIRST
Her face told the whole story: During the daily White House press briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked by a reporter at a conservative news outlet if President Joe Biden was “woke”:
Two days before this exchange, Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert feigned righteous outrage at the National Football League for featuring a performance of the Black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” during the Super Bowl’s pre-game programming.
The next day former Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, launched her campaign for president with a video that highlighted The 1619 Project, the Black Lives Matter movement, and politicians like President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont as infuriating symbols of anti-Americana.
These broadsides, of course, aren’t new in the so-called “culture wars.” Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia deftly cloaked attacks on public school curriculum as “protecting parental rights” on his way to victory a couple of years ago. Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor who’s expected to declare his candidacy for the presidency later this year, has empowered his state legislature to torment trans students and small businesses with impunity. And we all lived through four years of Donald Trump’s racism and bigotry that mainstream Republicans enabled for tax cuts in return.
But conservative elected officials are doubling down at a time of divided government where congressional Republicans lack a cohesive legislative agenda, Democrats and the White House are concerned with implementing the bills they passed into law last Congress and the contours of the 2024 election are coming into focus.
How national Democrats respond to these attacks though will go far in shaping public opinion among the key coalitions — women, Black and brown people and LGBTQ+ folks — that are often the targets of these attacks and remain as a core voting bloc if the party hopes to retake the House, expand their Senate majority and keep President Biden in the White House.
“I think Republicans are baiting Democrats into a conversation around class, race and culture. And I think they’re baiting Democrats because they realize that their best shot of winning next year is because they’re bankrupt in ideas,” a Democratic strategist said to Supercreator. “There isn’t unity on their side of the aisle and so they are trying to go to an old playbook to say Democrats are the party of class and race and social issues, but not the party that deals with the economy, deals with the issues that everyday Americans really care about.”
The strategist added that Democrats proved last Congress they can deliver on kitchen-table pocketbook issues and the party would be wise to focus on touting how the laws they passed will improve people’s lives instead of descending to the gutter to tussle with extreme Republicans.
Doug Wilson, also a Democratic strategist who’s based in Charlotte, North Carolina, agrees that the party has to promote its accomplishments during the last two years of the Biden administration.
“However, we have to be careful about ceding ground to Republicans that can be easy for voters to follow,” he said, referring to issues like public safety, immigration and education.