AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
As Republicans look to retake the House and Senate next year, they will undoubtedly look for any advantage they may gain over Democrats in their messaging strategies. While it may certainly be easy to focus on the many personal shortcomings of Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats, and those faults should indeed be highlighted to some extent, the GOP shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that issues matter as well.
Here, the lessons of 2016 may prove invaluable for Republicans. While the liberal media desperately tried to make the 2016 presidential race about personalities – which ultimately backfired on them – many in the political establishment still fail to understand that Donald Trump was successful in large part because of his unique ability to explain his policies clearly and plainly to the American people. Trade, China, immigration, taking care of veterans, and restoring American military strength were important themes on which he built his campaign and invoked at almost every opportunity. Instead of countering with concrete policy proposals of their own, the Clinton campaign focused on smearing the character of their opponent, and the American people handed Trump the presidency.
As the Democratic Party continues its wild leftward lurch, many of the pressing issues of today would’ve seemed far-fetched for even the Democratic Party of 2016. It thus stands to reason that more issues will come to the fore in the coming months, and even these mentioned below will continue to develop and evolve, and are only part of a larger narrative of Democratic mishaps. But here are five of the biggest issues as things stand today that Republicans should focus on heading into the midterm year that will give them an edge at the ballot box.
2020 saw an unprecedented rise in murder rates across the country. In response, progressives have not only permitted petty crime to proliferate but, in many cases, have actively worked to release suspects from custody. The result of these policies can already be seen as liberal city after liberal city is engulfed by violence, homelessness, and theft. As just one example, many Americans were shocked earlier this year at viral videos of thieves robbing stores in San Francisco in broad daylight as security guards stood by and watched, powerless to do anything thanks to new city ordinances. Republicans can make a strong case that if elected, they will be dedicated to enforcing the law, prosecuting criminals, and reversing the national trend of increasing crime rates.
Critical Race Theory
After President Trump brought the issue of education to the fore in a major speech at the National Archives last year, outraged parents of all political stripes have spoken up to oppose Critical Race Theory and other left-wing ideologies being peddled in school classrooms. In response, liberals have desperately attempted to pretend that Critical Race Theory either doesn’t exist, isn’t taught in schools, or isn’t dangerous.
However, despite the best attempts of the left, parents aren’t buying it, as polling shows large majorities of Americans are opposed to CRT and related philosophies being taught in school classrooms.
The potency of the issue has been on full display in the Virginia gubernatorial race where, just months after Joe Biden carried Virginia by 10 points in last year’s election, Republican Glenn Youngkin is running neck and neck with his Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe. Youngkin has run a campaign focused heavily on education issues and pushing parents’ rights in schools. McAuliffe, on the other hand, continues to slide in the polls just days before election day thanks to his past support of CRT policies and making statements like “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Even Vice President Kamala Harris has warned that a McAuliffe loss could spell disaster for Democrats next year, telling a crowd of Virginians yesterday that “what happens in Virginia will in large part determine what happens in 2022, 2024 and on.” Regardless of the outcome of that race, the campaign has shown that parents are concerned about what their kids are being taught in schools, and Democrats by and large appear to be on the wrong side of the debate.
Though the mainstream media may have already pivoted to other issues, the utter collapse of Afghanistan lingers heavily in the hearts and minds of many Americans. The sheer incompetence by which the withdrawal was executed and the absolute unwillingness of defense officials to accept accountability for that failure was a gut punch to the hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and their families who had sacrificed so much for so little. Additionally, the persistent fear of renewed and emboldened terrorist attacks isn’t going anywhere.
Continuing COVID-19 Woes
Thanks to President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, Joe Biden came into office with multiple vaccines and hundreds of millions of doses on the way. On day one of the Biden presidency, completely thanks to Trump’s rollout plan, the country saw more than 1.6 million people get vaccinated.
Since then, Biden’s handling of the virus has been an unmitigated disaster. Bungled messaging from the Biden administration on things like masking policies and vaccine safety has left many Americans confused and frustrated. Biden’s harsh rhetoric toward anyone who dares to disagree with the government’s COVID policies has only increased public mistrust of the government. Moreover, there have already been more COVID deaths in 2021 than in all of 2020. It is hardly a ringing success story for a President who ran on the promise of “shutting down the virus”.
One thing Biden has managed to shut down is the economy. After four years of unprecedented economic prosperity under President Trump, it’s now becoming more expensive for every American to purchase items as essential as a loaf of bread or a tank of gas. Prices for things like used cars and furniture are up by as much as 20% – and that’s assuming people can even get a new couch thanks to supply chain problems.
Yet even as inflation continues to rise and the economy struggles to recover from the pandemic-induced recession, Democrats are determined to exponentially increase spending through multi-trillion dollar spending packages.
Ultimately, the GOP will look to send the message that, if the radical leftists who run today’s Democratic Party have their way, whether its crime or lockdowns or school curriculum, the American people will have no say over the direction of their lives. With a victory next November, Republicans would send a message to the Democratic Party that the type of extremist policies they’ve forwarded in recent years have no place in America.
Knowing that they’re losing the battle when it comes these issues and many more, Democrats have predictably tried to shift the narrative, hyper-focusing on the 2020 and election and January 6 to paint Republicans as enemies of the Republic. They’ve also tried to control the media narrative through their massive spending packages, hoping that government handouts to various groups will distract from the obvious economic hardships many Americans are facing. Ultimately, however, history suggests that voters will likely side with the party that ensures security for their families and prosperity for their communities. Republicans would accordingly be wise to stay focused on the issues that voters will have on their minds when they head to the polls next November.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.