The FBI report is in. There may be more accusations, character witnesses, or other developments that pop up, but at this point anything that is likely able to sway Senators is out in the open. Now all that’s left is posturing for the handful of “undecided” Senators and building the election narratives.
It’s important to understand there are three sides regarding Kavanaugh. There are the obvious pro- and anti-Kavanaugh camps. The third camp is what we’ll call the what’s-in-it-for-me group. These are the six or seven Senators who will cast their vote based on which choice will help them the most and/or hurt them the least.
So what does this mean for America? We’re going to get bombarded with ads, emails, mailers, robocalls, and commentaries that will all be influenced by the outcome of the Kavanaugh confirmation. There are obviously two possible outcomes here, but for the sake of time I’ll focus on the likely scenario that he’s confirmed. If he gets blocked, I’ll put out a new post with the shifted dynamic in mind.
Here’s how it plays out from now until election day.
The lion’s share of their focus will be on women. They want to drive home the narrative that Republicans just put a sexual predator on the Supreme Court who will take away their reproductive rights and embolden the patriarchy in Washington DC. They’ll invoke President Trump’s treatment of women and paint the Republican Party as a whole as an evil entity that will do whatever it takes to keep women down.
You won’t see Bill Clinton anywhere near the campaign trail and Hillary’s presence will be limited and controlled.
The subtext will focus completely on Trump, Kavanaugh, and how the Republican candidate in the voters’ district would empower them further.
Republicans moving forward
Economy, economy, economy… sort of. Prosperity is a powerful driving force and conventional wisdom says people vote based on their bank accounts, but that’s not entirely accurate. People vote during presidential elections based on their bank accounts, but midterms are normally a referendum for or against the current president and the ruling party’s agenda.
Unfortunately for Republicans, the first midterm usually becomes a referendum against the president as opposing voters have more incentive to get off their couches and hit the polls.
They have a big hill to climb. Getting their voters riled up enough to take action is harder for them than for outraged Democrats. Their best hope is to get right-leaning independent voters excited about their candidates. To do this, they’ll need to scare them and Kavanaugh is the key.
This process has been a boost for outraged Democrats, but it has also given the GOP a narrative that drove them to victories in 2010, 2014, and 2016: fear of the crazy leftists. They need to position Democrats as unhinged and willing to do anything to gain power. They then need to drive home a warning of what could happen if they’re allowed to have that power.
Then and only then can they get back to their underlying narrative of pushing the prosperity they’ve brought to the next level. The message should be that what they’re doing is working so America cannot let the Democrats derail progress the way they nearly derailed a Supreme Court nomination.
The rest of us shaking our heads
As a conservative who is not a Republican, I have the enviable perspective of pure discontent. I can acknowledge the progress Republicans have made while still knowing they’ve done so at the cost of our future. Insane budgets and increased spending have made the nation more fiscally vulnerable even though current economic indicators are strong. The GOP has pulled a classic Democrat move by selling out or future for temporary prosperity.
The Democrats, on the other hand, are terrifying with their crazy lurch to the left. They’re completely unacceptable.
That leaves people like me in the same position we’ve been in for decades: picking between the lesser of two evils. It’s like choosing a slow death by poison trickled into the bloodstream versus instant and painful death by explosion. Do we drink the poison or swallow the grenade?
It’s unfortunate the Democrats made this election as ugly as they have. When we should be focused as a nation on expanding prosperity, they’ve chosen to distract us with confirmation parlor tricks.