Numerous commentators and writers have been conjuring up dark scenarios for the United States this year, causing demoralizing fears about civil wars and impending threats to American democracy. I agree that U.S. politics have been depressing since the 2020 election, particularly after former president Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021. I have been trying to write more positive blogs to counter these horrific opinions, however, and events of the past two months are beginning to make that easier.
Why? Well, there has been a fair amount of good news recently that I find uplifting. In June, the January 6 committee began telling a compelling tale of criminality by former president Trump and all those who attempted to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election. Then we learned that the Department of Justice has empaneled a grand jury that is focusing on wrongdoing by top officials in the Trump administration on January 6. The best chance to indict Trump, however, may be in Fulton County, Georgia where a grand jury is zeroing in on Trump and those who attempted to reverse President Biden’s win in that state.
These investigations have prompted dozens of pundits to question if Trump’s 2020 voters will support him in 2024. Absolutely, is the answer that I have heard or read from most of them. Several have opined that what Trump did on January 6 hasn’t even damaged him. A July article in The Atlantic, however, published the results from dozens of focus groups of Trump’s 2020 voters that have met since January 6, 2021. The changing attitudes they reveal are insightful.
Most participants in focus group meetings that occurred prior to the start of the January 6 committee hearings in June, still wanted Trump in 2024. Those in the nine groups since then weren’t so sure. Some found Trump to be “exhausting.” One said, “I don’t want four more years of [bad tweets].” Others thought the GOP could potentially get eight years of control with another candidate instead of only four with Trump. In four of the final nine groups, not one person wanted Trump to run again. Among various alternative candidates, these Republicans expressed the most interest in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
As I have stated in previous blogs, in my opinion, Donald Trump will not be on the ballot in 2024. That alone would be very positive, even if the Republican nominee becomes president. Trump is surrounded by truly antidemocracy, sycophantic criminals who would attempt to keep him, and them, in power beyond four years, literally creating an autocracy. I believe that any of the other Republicans who are vying to be the GOP nominee in 2024 would be much more likely to follow the rule of law and the Constitution than Trump, which would help preserve U.S. democracy.
Progressives were encouraged on Tuesday when the Republican effort to eliminate abortion protections from the Kansas state constitution was overwhelmingly defeated. They now believe that abortion rights will be a significant issue in the midterm elections. That combined with the radical candidates that Republican voters are nominating give Democrats a better chance of retaining control of Congress, according to a growing number of analysts. They may also do better in critical governor’s races like Texas where Republican Greg Abbott may be vulnerable because he signed one of the strictest abortion restrictions in the nation.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is one radical candidate this year who is certainly not helping GOP efforts to retake the Senate. It’s no secret that Republicans would cut Social Security and Medicare benefits if they thought they could get away with it. Well, Johnson confirmed that recently during a right-wing radio show when he proposed making mandatory (automatic) spending programs like these two popular entitlements subject to yearly discretionary spending appropriations bills. CNN anchor Brianna Keilar played a clip of Johnson’s remarks for analyst Chris Wallace, after which she said, “Sounds like cutting Medicare and Social Security.” Wallace agreed and said it was a terrible policy. He called it “suicide politics.”
On the plus side, Democrats have scored, or are teeing up, some significant legislative wins in Congress. President Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in June, the first gun control legislation in decades, the CHIPS bill in July, which appropriates $280 billion to speed up the manufacture of critically needed semiconductors in the U.S. and the PACT Act in August, which expands health care benefits for veterans who were sickened by exposure to toxic burn pits during military service. Congress also passed the accession treaty in August, which approves adding Sweden and Finland to NATO, thus helping counter Russia in Europe.
An even bigger win for Democrats is nearing passage in Congress, the Inflation Reduction Act. This bill would raise taxes on corporations and wealthy hedge fund managers, make the largest ever U.S. investment toward fighting climate change and reduce the cost of pharmaceutical drugs. It would also further reduce the number of Americans without health insurance, which in 2022 is at a record low. Economists agree that this legislation will lower prices for all Americans and even slightly decrease budget deficits.
Yes, I believe recent events are making it easier to be optimistic about America’s future. Remember, Republican autocrats will only prevail if pessimism causes democracy-loving Americans to give up and do nothing to stop them.