Democrats must brand the GOP as an anti-American movement

The Republican Party is anti-police, anti-freedom, and anti-family. Say it.

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Over the weekend Chris Wallace of Fox News hit Republican Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana on the hypocrisy of his and the GOP’s consistent portrayal of Democrats as anti-police when the GOP voted against $350 billion toward state and city police departments in the American Rescue Plan.

Wallace asked: “Can’t you make the argument that it’s you, and the Republicans, who are defunding the police?”

Can’t you, indeed! And yet, it took a Fox News host to make the argument rather than Democratic leaders and strategists.

Add in that Republicans are defending Donald Trump from charges of inciting the January 6th insurrection, which killed and wounded police officers. And that some Republican House members are sloughing off the domestic terror attack on the Capitol, saying it looked like it a “tourist” event, defending the insurrectionists themselves. And add in that the GOP House leader, Kevin McCarthy, won’t even denounce the denialists, and that 21 GOP House members voted not to give the Congressional Gold Medal to the Capitol Police — and have not been admonished by the Republican leadership.

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The GOP is the anti-police party. The Democrats should be be saying it over and over again. Oh, sure, some will point to this or that statement from this or that Democratic member of the House or Senate occasionally, including from the leadership — and that’s good. But most often it takes the form of a Democratic policy position with a reference to the GOP ugly assault, rather than a simple, pointed, brazen counterattack. It’s not consistent. It’s not confident. It’s not branded.

The GOP has absolutely no regard for the welfare of law enforcement or for helping make Americans safer. It needs to be said over and over — and alone, not with some lofty explanation (which can always be provided later). It needs to be loud, and it needs to be in effective, biting political attack ads.

The GOP, which voted against the American Rescue Plan — and is against the “human infrastructure” part of Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, which includes money for child care — is also anti-family. They were willing — are willing — to let American families suffer.

Yes, the GOP is anti-family, and it’s not crazy to say so. Just because they’d owned the “pro-family” label for so long doesn’t mean we shouldn’t rip it from their bosoms and tell the truth.

Just as with the issue of law enforcement, the GOP has defined it itself as “pro-family,” because we have let themwhen the GOP is in fact anti-family and it is the Democrats who are pro-family.

The GOP has also bizarrely been allowed for way too long to call itself “pro-freedom.” This is a party whose leader right now, Trump, is an authoritarian who regularly attacks Americans’ cherished autonomies, from freedom of the press to the rights of racial, religious and sexual minorities. One of the GOP’s 2024 hopefuls, Ron DeSantis, as Governor of Florida, just signed a bill that requires students, faculty and administrators at Florida public universities to be surveyed on their political beliefs or risk funding.

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The GOP is an anti-freedom party and, increasingly, a neo-fascist movement.

This needs to be branded — so well burnished that the GOP doesn’t know what hit it.

And the Democrats, for too long, have just been lame at doing this kind of thing. But that doesn’t mean it can’t change. It’s not enough to repel against the “defund the police” attacks from the GOP or the “anti-family” messaging about Democrats or the “anti-freedom” mantras about progressives. That’s good, and important, but it has Democrats on the defensive when they should be the ones on the offensive — not just because it’s a good strategy, but because they are right and it is the absolute truth.

Rachel Bitocofer, the political scientist who in 2018 predicted the blue tsumani in the House when most strategists thought Democrats would just make it over the line. or fall just short — and who I had on my SiriusXM program many times during that 2018 cycle — has now founded a PAC, Strike PAC, which is focused solely on these kinds of branding efforts. She outlined it in an interview in Salon:

Democrats, up until now, have been told by their consultants, "Don't worry about it," or "Don't push back on 'socialism' or 'defund the police.'" To their credit, candidates are starting to understand when somebody is lobbing missiles at you, you can't just stand there and pretend it's not hitting. They are starting to try to put forward a response. But the it's a defensive mechanism, it's not offensive. The GOP is saying, "We're going to have a debate about these topics," and when you enter into that field, you are basically on the defense the whole time because you're having a conversation that's been structured by the opposition party….

…It's flipping that GOP tactic over to our side. It's attacking the Republicans to make a conversation about their anti-democratic power grab, that goes back from contesting the results of 2020, an armed insurrection, Trump actually trying to use the Justice Department to stage a coup, and the Republican Party's wholesale embrace of that. 

I’ll be having Bitocofer on my program this week to talk further about what needs to be done. It’s critical that Democrats engage in these strategies — and, more importantly, that the rest of us help propel and fund them even if Democratic strategists don’t get it.

Democrats cannot afford to lose either chamber of Congress in 2022 or we could see democracy destroyed. Now is the time for bold new strategies, and that means branding the GOP as the anti-democratic, anti-police, anti-family, anti-freedom, neo-fascist movement that it is.

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