Friday Talking Points -- We Don't Need No Education! We Don't Need No Thought Control!

[ Posted Friday, May 7th, 2021 – 17:22 UTC ]

In 2018, Democrats dominated the midterm elections. This was not historically unusual, although the size of the victory was at the high end of the scale. Since there is now a Democrat in the White House, the 2022 election has to be seen as tilted towards the Republicans. But there is one very potent issue that Democrats should truly begin exploiting -- in the same manner they exploited healthcare in 2018. Back then, Democrats ran on a very obvious choice: vote for us, we will try to make health insurance cheaper and easier to get, while Republicans' only answer is to repeal Obamacare (which, by then, had become quite popular). It worked. In 2022, the Democrats' message should be: vote for us, we will make [or, if it passes, "we made"] four additional years of education free, while Republicans told you it was evil and socialism and maybe even communism -- while they fought hard against two free years of preschool for America's children.

This is a truly perfect message, because it aims right at the heart of the key demographic battleground: suburban women. Who here thinks suburban women are going to militantly fight against free preschool and two years of free community college? Because that is exactly what the new Republican position is. Don't believe this? Here they are in their own words:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: "[the Biden administration] wants to jack up taxes in order to nudge families toward the kinds of jobs Democrats want them to have, in the kinds of industries Democrats want to exist, with the kinds of cars Democrats want them to drive, using the kinds of child-care arrangements that Democrats want them to pursue." Those dastardly Democrats! Forcing people not to pay for child care! Oh, the horror!

Senator Tim Scott (in his response to Biden's speech to Congress): "[Democrats want] to put Washington even more in the middle of your life, from the cradle to college." To Republicans, providing free schooling is somehow the jackboot of tyranny, obviously.

Senator Josh Hawley, speaking of the Biden proposal: "I think there's a lot of lefty social engineering paid for by mortgaging the future of my children and my grandchildren." Mortgaging the future of grandchildren to pay for the grandchildren's school? Oh when will this nightmare end?!?

Senator Marsha Blackburn: "[Biden's proposal would] incentivize women to rely on the federal government to organize their lives. Three-year-old pre-K, they're going to mandate this. Two years of college, whether you like it or not. These are the things that take away choices from the American people. It favors those who want power and control over every single minute of your day. It is disgusting." None of this is true, of course -- nothing will be "mandated" or "whether you like it or not." That's just unadulterated moosepoop. And free school somehow "takes away choices from the American people." Like the choice of paying for school, or doing without. The death of freedom! She went further, during Biden's speech, tweeting an article from 1974 about the prevalence of affordable child care in the Soviet Union, with the text: "You know who else liked universal day care". Seriously -- universal pre-K is going to mean Marx and the commies take over our country? Say what???

Last Sunday, Chris Wallace of Fox News finally asked the question we have been urging all journalists to ask Republicans. Speaking to Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Wallace ran down the actual items in the Biden proposal, one by one. And then he asked: "Which of these programs do you think people in your state don't need?" Cassidy tried the standard GOP talking point: "It's not a bridge, dammit!" No, seriously, here was his answer:

It's not infrastructure. When people say, "Wait a second, I like this because we need a new bridge across the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles," I'm saying this plan will not give it to you. The amount of spending for roads and bridges is so low and split between 50 states over 5 years, you're not going to get your bridge. Now we may need this. But that is not going to give you a road and bridge. And that's what people in my state would really like to see.

This is ridiculous nonsense, of course. Who cares whether it's a bridge or not -- is it a good idea? Which (to our astonishment and to his credit) Wallace actually called out:

There are a lot of programs that aren't infrastructure and the question I'm asking you is would you support the government paying for them? I looked into it, in your state of Louisiana, the rate of child poverty is 25 percent -- one in four of the children in Louisiana are in poverty. And according to the White House, 42 percent of residents in Louisiana do not have access to child care. So wouldn't they benefit -- forget whether it's infrastructure or not -- wouldn't they benefit from these government programs?

This is precisely the question they all need to be asked. Repeatedly. Because they simply have no viable answer to it. Here is Cassidy's weak attempt:

I don't know if they would. If you think about the main driver of elevating out of poverty, it's good education. What we saw during the pandemic was teachers Unions keeping schools shut even when the Centers for Disease Control said it was safe to go back. The president wants to give universal pre-K run by the same teachers Unions. There's more money going to the school systems and the Unions and yet they still won't open? Not because the C.D.C. says it's not safe, but because they don't want to? Your kids are not going to have a better education. They're just not. So whether or not these programs benefit those who need it, we don't know.

Got all that? It's more than just anti-teacher word salad. First, education fights poverty the best. Second, if we spend money on education, then some of it finds its way into teachers' pockets and we obviously can't sanction that. Third, school reopenings! This issue is going to be almost totally forgotten by the 2022 election cycle, though. And finally, who knows? Maybe education doesn't actually benefit anyone, so of course we're against free education for the one-fourth of my state's children who live in poverty.

The disconnect between the Republican position and reality is just breathtaking. And breathtakingly stupid, since (once again) suburban moms may be the most important swing demographic in the midterms. Republicans lost them and lost them badly the last two election cycles, so if they lose them a third time it might permanently move them over to the Democratic coalition. And you know what Republicans are patting themselves on the back over -- their secret scheme to win back these same moms? Banning transgender kids from participating in school sports. That's it. That's their big wedge issue. Because it is so obviously more important to moms and dads than free preschool.

So we'll have banning transgender kids versus free pre-K and free community college, which will extend by four years the very same free public education that already exists in this country. Which the Republicans are planning on fighting on ideological grounds of "taking away your freedom" and "communism!" They're not even going to attempt to make a practical argument, because the practical argument boils down to: "You should have to pay a lot of money for your 3-year-old and 4-year-old to go to school. You should have to pay for community college. Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps, dammit!"

That, pretty obviously, should be a pretty easy political battle to win. On one side is a sane and reasonable solution to a problem that tens of millions of parents face and worry about, and on the other side is... free education is the Soviet Union? Seriously, what are they going to do, play Pink Floyd at their rallies? "We don't need no education / We don't need no thought control." Good luck with that, you know, with all those suburban moms out there. Maybe a laser light show would help?

This is a fight Democrats should be relishing just as much as they did the healthcare issue in 2018. Because this is what a winning issue looks like, plain and simple.

Speaking of Democrats and winning, President Joe Biden had another pretty good week. He did what could accurately be called "the most Biden-ey thing ever" this week, by helping Amtrak celebrate its 50th birthday. And you could just see how much fun he had while doing so.

Biden gave a few speeches to increase the already-high support for his two current big legislative agenda items, down in Louisiana -- a state that didn't vote for him, but is still (of course) part of America. Nothing like a bipartisan travel itinerary, eh?

The president also killed off forever the last remnants of Donald Trump's grandiose border wall project, and returned the money to the Pentagon (from where Trump had stolen it).

Also, his press secretary hinted that a new First Cat is on the horizon, predicting (probably pretty accurately) that it will "break the internet" when announced. All in all, a pretty good week.

And to end on a positive note, America just got at least a first vaccine shot into the 150-millionth arm. This is more than 45 percent of the total population of the country, and a stunning achievement in its own right. Of course, from this point on it is going to get harder and harder to convince people to get a shot, but for now the program is still hitting impressive milestones.


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

It was kind of a quiet week all around, really. Politics usually takes somewhat of a break after a big presidential speech to Congress, and this week was no different. So for both awards, we're not even going to hand out the major statuettes, and will retire them to the shelf until next week (unless we missed someone glaringly obvious, so feel free as always to make suggestions/nominations in the comments).

We do have one minor award in each category, however.

Nancy Pelosi is no stranger to snark. And this week, her office couldn't resist weighing in on the turmoil in the House Republican caucus. While one line of this sounds like Pelosi made up some hyperbole, sadly, she didn't have to. Here is the full text her tongue-in-cheek press release (titled "Seeking Replacement for House Republican Conference Chair"):

Word is out that House GOP Leaders are looking to push Rep. Liz Cheney from her post as House Republican Conference Chair -- their most senior woman in GOP leadership -- for a litany of very Republican reasons: she won't lie, she isn't humble enough, she's like a girlfriend rooting for the wrong team, and more.

So what exactly are House GOP Leaders looking for in a #3? ... they want a woman who isn't a "threat" to them.

Again, that "girlfriend rooting for the wrong team" came straight out of the mouth of a Republican, not Pelosi. For pointing all this out (with extra snark), Pelosi and her press office deserve at least an Honorable Mention.


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

Once again, this simply does not rise to the level of the main award, so instead we're awarding a (Dis-)Honorable Mention award to all the Democratic candidates in the race for a special House election in Texas. The "jungle primary" was held this week, and the only two who will be advancing are both Republicans -- which locks Democrats out even before the final voting begins. We can't say it was exactly "dishonorable," but it was certainly disappointing. Just not enough to rise to the level of a Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award, that's all.


Friday Talking Points

Volume 617 (5/7/21)

There were a lot of little issues this week, some of which had to wind up on the cutting room floor, but the seriousness of the direction of the Republican Party (or as we dub it, the "Big Lie Party") simply took precedence. What the Republicans are doing is downright dangerous not just for their party, but for the country and for our democracy. By centering their party around Trump's Big Lie and by sowing so much doubt and distrust about the most secure election in American history, they are setting up a situation where the next presidential election might indeed be stolen. By them. So we had to pay a goodly amount of attention to these developments, this week.


   A nightmare? Spend a morning with my kids, that'll teach you what the word means!

This one is so easy, it is pathetic.

"Republicans are going to try to somehow fearmonger providing help for parents with child care, two free years of preschool, and two free years of community college as some sort of far-left socialist nightmare. Seriously. How many parents are going to recoil in horror at the news that their 3- or 4-year-old can go to pre-K for free? Or that their teen will be able to attend community college tuition-free? Does that sound like some sort of nightmare to you? And it'll all be paid for -- by rich corporations and the richest-of-the-rich individual taxpayers. If you don't make $400,000 a year, your taxes will not go up. That is somehow socialism? That is some sort of loss of freedom? That is some kind of nightmare? You know what? Democrats know that the American voter is a lot smarter than that, and will not be hoodwinked by ideological fearmongering."


   Trickle-down ain't working

This was from an address Joe Biden gave right in front of that bridge the Louisiana Republican senator was blathering about. Biden frames this issue perfectly, so we find we cannot improve on his words (except, perhaps, we would have used "Democratic road" at the end, there... just sayin'...):

In my view, it's an easy choice between giving tax breaks to corporations and the super wealthy and investing in working families.... [The Trump tax cut] created a two-trillion-dollar deficit with the vast majority of that going to the top one-tenth of one percent of the wage earners. I don't want to punish anybody.... Just pay your fair share.... Trickle down ain't working very well. We've got to build from the bottom up.... I've never seen a Republican or Democrat road. I just see roads.


   The Big Lie Party

They have redefined themselves, so let's call them what they truly now are, shall we?

"There is no Republican Party left. Instead, it has been replaced by the Big Lie Party. There is no unifying ideology, no platform, no core party belief anymore except one -- absolute worship of one man and whatever he is for or against on that given day. That's it. They are about to kick out one of the highest-ranking GOP leaders in Congress for daring to tell the truth when the rest of the party is quite content to run on Trump's Big Lie that the election was somehow stolen from him. All the other Republicans are just fine with swearing that the emperor's new clothes are gorgeous (and, of course, visible), while Liz Cheney cried out forcefully: 'but he's naked!' Because they really don't want to hear that -- the truth simply is not allowed in the party any more -- she has to be booted from her leadership post and another woman who totally supports this false conspiracy theory will take her place. Their one north star is now not only Donald Trump, but his Big Lie. Their biggest legislative agenda items at the state level is 'fixing' the problem of 'election security' which does not actually exist. That's what they stand for, and that is precisely what they are doing with their power. So why not just start calling them the Big Lie Party? Because that's really all they have become."


   A threat to democracy

Liz Cheney's got a tough week ahead. Earlier in the week, we wrote an article about Cheney's extraordinary opinion piece in the Washington Post, which (as we showed) actually stood for truth, justice, and the American way. And against her party's stance on all three of those. But there were two other quotes worth mentioning from Cheney this week as well. Democrats should print these out and have them at the ready for any interview they do.

First, the quote that got her into trouble. Trump tried to float a new bit of gaslighting: that the falsehood that the election was stolen from him was not only actually true, but that the Democrats were the ones guilty of "THE BIG LIE" for pointing out this reality. Cheney fired back on Twitter, within hours:

The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.

This, of course, is now heresy within the Republican Party. You simply cannot just stand up and blurt out the truth like that! What was she thinking?!?

Later, at a closed-door conservative conference, she was even more explicit about the direction of her party:

We can't embrace the notion the election is stolen. It's a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy. We can't whitewash what happened on January sixth or perpetuate Trump's Big Lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January sixth is a line that cannot be crossed.


   Cult of personality

Democrats are already getting gleeful at how closely the Republicans are tying themselves to Trump and his endless whining about his election loss. This will help Democrats, heading into the midterms.

"The Republican Party has become, in Liz Cheney's words, a 'dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.' Lindsey Graham admitted as much, later in the week. But every Democrat out there should really understand the depth of what we are fighting. Here is an extraordinary quote from a Michigan Republican organizer, explaining her views on the matter:"

I think I speak for many people in that Trump has never actually been wrong, and so we've learned to trust when he says something, that he's not just going to spew something out there that's wrong and not verified.

"Got that? Donald Trump, who uttered over 30,000 lies during his time in office, has, quote, never actually been wrong, unquote. That is what we're up against, folks. Blind faith. Belief in something that just isn't so. And a fierce and rabid determination to cling to that belief. Or, to put it another way, a cult."


   Country getting more bipartisan all the time

It would be useful for Democrats to start separating "Washington Republicans" from the rest of reality. Since they've already voluntarily done so themselves, this is really just pointing it out.

"As Joe Biden likes to point out, the country itself is pretty bipartisan in what they want to see from the government. When he gave a speech in Louisiana this week, a Republican mayor introduced him with some support for his infrastructure plans. All of the items on Biden's jobs agenda and families agenda poll with incredible bipartisan support from the public. It is only the Washington Republicans who refuse to recognize this new bipartisan reality. They are the ones refusing to take part in any of it, even though their own constituents want to see Biden's plan succeed. Mitch McConnell just swore he was going to devote 'one hundred percent' of his energy to stopping all of Biden's plans. That is not what the country wants. Not by a long shot. Republicans just keep getting more and more extreme and out of touch -- even with their own voters -- with every passing day."


   General meltdown

Hoo boy. Imagine for one tiny minute what Foxlandia would be saying now if this had been a Democrat and not a Republican!

"Michael Flynn, who pled guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about a Russian contact and was later pardoned by Trump, just proved how much of a patriot he isn't. He was trying to lead a crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, a pledge that every schoolchild in America gets drilled into them until it is actually hard not to remember it. The Pledge is only 31 words long, folks -- it's really nowhere near as tough as the National Anthem or anything. And this, mind you, is coming from a retired 3-star general. Here is what he came up with, before just lapsing into silence as the crowd corrected him: 'I pledge of [sic] allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, individual [sic]....' Seriously. He added one word ("of"), possibly changed another word ("individual," although it's hard to hear, he might have correctly used "indivisible") and left out 12 intervening words. Can you just imagine the faux outrage from the right if a Democrat had face-planted this badly?"

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground