The 2018 strategy to make us all lose our minds

The 2018 strategy to make us all lose our minds

by digby

Democrats are betting that nice staid ordinary campaign about economics is just what the doctor ordered to get their voters to the polls. I think the rationale is that everyone already knows that Trump is icky so there's no need to mention it and anyway, it just riles up the other side which they would prefer to stay home. Just go out and tell people what you'd like to do in a world with a president who will sign your legislation and people will be very excited even though there's absolutely no prospect of any of that happening in the near future.

The GOP is taking a slightly different tack. Greg Sargent reports that the culture war has been officially declared:

Meanwhile, this morning, the Washington Examiner’s David Drucker reports that Republicans are increasingly planning to rely on Trump’s culture-war attacks — particularly those involving MS-13 and football players kneeling during the national anthem — to goose the base in the midterms:
Trump’s habit of ignoring the economic message preferred by House and Senate Republicans in favor of the culture war tropes that propelled him to the White House is increasingly seen as an asset. Though provocative, the president’s rhetoric resonates with the base, offering Republicans a vehicle for matching the Democrats’ critical voter enthusiasm edge.
The Examiner notes that Republicans are privately cheering Trump for claiming that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) loves MS-13. And as GOP consultant Brad Todd put it, Republicans believe that “cultural cudgels” like Trump’s attacks on African American football players as anti-American and anti-military are “all upside for him.”

There are multiple reasons why this may intensify. Republicans have already shown that they don’t think messaging on the tax cut works, having cycled out of it during their loss in Pennsylvania’s 18th District. Trump himself appears persuaded that the race baiting of kneeling football players will work: Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Trump plans to periodically “revive” these attacks, because he believes doing so “revs up his political base.”

Meanwhile, various circumstances may bring immigration to the fore. Centrist House Republicans are pushing a discharge petition to force a vote to protect the “dreamers,” and GOP leaders are trying to find a compromise that Trump might sign — protecting the dreamers, plus cuts to legal immigration — to avert that outcome. It’s unlikely that Republicans will find this compromise, and if the discharge strategy does force a House vote protecting the dreamers, Trump will insist that Senate Republicans block it. Whatever is to be in this debate, as it comes to a head, Trump’s demagoguery about immigrants will veer headlong into his usual modes of xenophobia and hate.

On another front, Robert S. Mueller III’s probe may hit a climax of sorts soon, as he is expected to produce a report on whether Trump obstructed justice. As it is, Trump — with his claims of absolute power to pardon people associated with the probe, himself included, and his legal team’s insistence that he cannot obstruct justice by definition — is already descending into new authoritarian depths. Trump’s attacks on Mueller are dramatically eroding Mueller’s credibility with Republican voters, and we’ve already seen some GOP candidates start mimicking Trump’s authoritarianism, aping his calls for locking up Hillary Clinton and ending the Mueller investigation. If we learn more about Mueller’s findings, setting off Trump, all this could get louder.
As Ron Brownstein reported for the Atlantic, Republicans are basically betting their majorities on the idea that such racial and cultural provocations will boost turnout just enough among aging, blue-collar and rural white voters unhappy with the evolution of the country to enable them to prevail...
This should be a lot of fun ...