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Hot Takes Abound Today

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Of course, every pundit, no matter their political position, finds yesterday’s elections reinforces their preconceived view of the Democratic Party. No reality will ever change that.

But at the very least, what we must do is not idiotically blame “the left” for any of this, which was even happening among some choice LGM commenters last night. I don’t know how to convince people to continue to vote for Democrats even after Trump is no longer in power. No one has an answer to this. But at the very least, just freaking govern and defend your positions. At least it’s the honest way to go down if it is inevitable (kudos to Heidi Heitkamp for doing this, as opposed to, say, Claire McCaskill). Max Burns:

Maybe nothing hurt McAuliffe so much as McAuliffe himself. Voters didn’t respond to his swings at Youngkin, which respondents in the AP VoteCast survey said came off as unfair and made the former governor look petty. But nowhere did McAuliffe injure himself as severely as during a debate with Youngkin, when he shot back at a question about parental involvement in school curricula by flatly stating, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

That flippant remark galvanized Republicans around the country. Youngkin became an off-year cause célèbre and a darling of the right-wing media outrage machine. The messaging that Terry McAuliffe was about to force Critical Race Theory into the fragile minds of Virginia children consumed almost every other issue in what had previously been McAuliffe’s race. Virginia voters who listed concerns about parents being cut out of their child’s education split 3-to-1 for Youngkin, according to CBS News exit polling.

McAuliffe and Democrats didn’t need to be caught flat-footed by the GOP’s bogus “school takeover” hysteria. Lawmakers and progressive activists have been calling out the Republican playbook since summer. After McAuliffe’s tough loss, many are speaking up again.

“Republicans won by creating a fake bogeyman and telling suburban voters they will defeat it,” The Daily Beast’s Wajahat Ali tweeted on Tuesday night. “Dems didn’t come out with a counter message. And there it is. Hats off to the depraved cynicism and villainy and race baiting. It worked in Virginia like we said it would.”

And with all due respect to Team McAuliffe, their non-response to the GOP’s fearmongering will spell disaster for Democrats if that strategy is repeated across the congressional map in 2022. We’re already seeing the opening wave of Republicans’ new culture war in school board recall efforts unfolding nationwide.

While McAuliffe may have been hoisted by his own overconfidence in Virginia, lawmakers heading home to their districts in 2022 will face their own reckoning. There’s one simple trick to averting a Democratic bloodbath next year: Do what voters say they want. A Vox/Data for Progress poll conducted last month found 71% of voters support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and six-in-ten support Biden’s signature spending plan at the full $3.5 trillion. These aren’t mere “suggestion” numbers — they’re supermajorities. Democrats ignore those clearly stated wishes at their own electoral peril.

Passing a robust domestic spending program and moving quickly to advance a voting rights package is the minimum Democrats can do to show they are acting on Biden’s lofty campaign promises. Those are also two key areas where conservative Democrats — not progressives — are opposed to the consensus within both their own party and their own country. For all their complaining about making Build Back Better work for “regular Americans,” voters want a deal that looks much more like Pramil Jayapal’s than Joe Manchin’s.

Of course this take also falls into the same trap. Burns wants Democrats to pass a big progressive agenda (as do I) and he thinks it will lead to electoral gold (I am very much not so sure about that). But…..if you are going to lose, lose the right way. Of course the centrist Dems are very unlikely to learn this lesson and I wouldn’t be shocked if Manchin and Gottheimer just torpedo Biden’s entire agenda at this point, which the MSM will totally agree is the right move.

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