Here is what we just saw happen: Tens of millions of Americans told multiple pollsters, over a period of months, that their top concerns heading into the midterms were inflation, crime, and immigration. They told the pollsters that they trusted Republicans to do a better job than Democrats at handling inflation. They also said that Republicans would do a better job of handling crime. And they said they trusted the Republicans more on the issue of immigration. These same people then went and voted for Democrats.
In Michigan, people who complained about Whitmer’s lockdowns and mandates just voted for more of them. New Yorkers who screamed about crime voted for more of it. Pennsylvanians just voted to have more inflation.
I am not making this up. This just happened, right in front of our eyes.
Are people too stupid to know what they are voting for? The Democrats would probably say that. Hillary Clinton did say that. But I won’t. Most people named the same issues we would have as the top ones facing the country. They knew the Democrats would do a worse job than we would on all three. They didn’t care. They voted for the Democrats anyway. They are getting something from the Democrats that is worth more to them than lower inflation, less crime, and a secure border. And we don’t know what it is.
I am a big fan of the dictum that we should watch what people do, not what they say. What they say is that they care about inflation. What they do is vote for Democrats. They say they care about crime. What they do is vote for Democrats.
I don’t doubt that they care about inflation. It’s hard not to. It’s punching a pretty big hole in everyone’s household budget, which is unpleasant. Crime scares people, and it should. Totally innocent people have been pushed in front of subway trains, for no apparent reason. Voters care about these things, they just care more about something else.
I have a box of “Challenge” brand butter in my refrigerator. It’s there because Engineer Bill, who had a cartoon show in Los Angeles in the 1950s, told me that was the good stuff. I’ve been buying it my whole life. I don’t even think about it. It’s a good bet that a lot of the people who voted for Democrats in this election did so for reasons that are a lot like me and Engineer Bill. Their parents were Democrats. Some teacher along the line told them the Democrats were the good guys. They haven’t thought about it since.
I also have two boxes of the grocery store house brand butter. That’s there because the last time I was in the store, the house brand was on BOGO. Note that a significant price break can move me off my habitual brand. Note also that neither punishing inflation nor the threat of violent crime moved the habitual Democrats off their brand.
There are also brands that I will not buy. Maybe I had a bad experience. Maybe I hate their CEO; maybe they’ve gone Woke. Those could be marked “Buy one get TWO free” and I still wouldn’t buy them. A significant price break can move me off my brand, but cannot get me to move toward something on my “don’t buy” list.
Among other issues, I think Republicans have a “branding” problem. I think we’ve gotten on a lot of people’s “don’t buy” list. I think we have totally underestimated the effectiveness of the Democrats’ absolutely deliberate, well-funded, and quite outrageous ongoing program to trash our brand. To trash us.
None of us could remember anything, from any president, as divisive, offensive, and outrageous as Joe Biden’s “red” speech. Everyone thought it was the most reprehensible thing they’d ever seen any president do. He called half the people in the country “Fascists.” Who does that? The same guy who’s out there right now taking a victory lap, saying he just had the best first-term midterm result of any president in decades. It wasn’t just him. Clyburn was out there saying that if the Republicans win, Hitler himself would return. The NBC Historian claimed that Republicans would establish tyranny, arrest your children, and kill them. Stuff like that is nuts, but it moves the Overton Window of what’s OK to say in public toward ever-more outrageous slurs.
The Democrats are serious about this kind of thing. They plan it. They spend money on it. The Democrats hired a team of consultants who spent months conducting focus groups to produce their latest manufactured slur, “Mega MAGA Republicans.” Sure, it sounds silly. Spending money to polish spears to throw at your enemies instead of trying to advance the ball for America might seem like an odd way to do politics. But that is what they just did.
And look what happened. We just saw tens of millions of people vote for more lockdowns, more crime, and higher prices… rather than be one of those racist, fascist, insurrectionist Nazis that The Other Guys — those Mega MAGA Republicans– are. Who would want to be one of them?
We would all like to think that people are being perfectly rational as they go about making their voting decisions. But we know they’re not. Every other Star Trek episode has Mr. Spock saying, “illogical,” as the humans go off to do the goofy things that humans do. And they always muddle through, just like we do. We have to take people as they are. And right now, they won’t vote for us. Not even when they know there’s a problem and that we’re the guys to fix it. They still can’t bring themselves to be one of us.
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