“Don’t defend Trump.” It’s generally common sense advice coming from one of us – or something you have to regularly tell your Trump-loving neighbor in an argument, but probably not something you’d expect to hear from a Republican campaign consultant. Spoken off the record, this comment would be bad and probably stir up the news cycle for a day or two, causing a headache for a few politicians, but it appears twice in a 57-page memo detailing the GOP’s strategy to maintain their majority in the Senate in the upcoming election.
That’s right – you’ll never hear it from them, but the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee understands that it’s hopeless to even try spinning Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus when it comes to any on-the-fence voters. To get the full context of what the memo’s about, Republicans are gambling on something else. The memo fully encourages candidates to instead go after Democrats, China, and the World Health Organization, as scapegoats for the pandemic.
It’s a strategy that should be familiar – they tried it throughout the 2014 midterms when they took back the Senate – inciting fear of Ebola and using immigrants as a scapegoat, even though the spread was rapidly contained with a competent response from the Obama administration. What follows in the memo is a lot of the usual racist nonsense against Asians we’ve been seeing in right-wing media, and unsubstantiated claims that the WHO coordinated with China and political correctness is the real reason states are suffering.
There’s probably not a lot of this strategy that will hold up, depending on what the country looks like by election season – but it’s possible that a number of red states like the ones that re-opened for business this week could be seeing a considerable hike in cases, and because they chose to listen to Donald Trump – not due to political correctness or whatever. This is a desperate strategy that may amount to no strategy at all by the time they need one. In the meantime, do everything you can to make this election about Trump and all that he stands for, because that’s what it is.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making