News

Democrats and Republicans Aren’t Even Talking About the Same Issues This Year

Opinion by Ed Kilgore – Friday

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/democrats-and-republicans-aren-t-even-talking-about-the-same-issues-this-year/ar-AA11UdE8?ocid=EMMX&cvid=45429e5fbb994e738a47a8ee0697889c

In the gospel according to the Church of Bipartisanship, the way politics should work is that each side should devise distinctive solutions to commonly identified problems and then compromise where necessary to get things done. If that doesn’t happen, the blame is typically assigned to self-serving politicians and fanatical activists who prefer gridlock to any accommodation of divergent views. And that is bad!

Reality is more complicated. In part, that’s because the real engines of gridlock are the institutional obstacles (especially the Senate filibuster and judicial review) available to minority parties to obstruct anything they don’t want to happen. Beyond that fundamental problem, moreover, is a flawed premise at the heart of the bipartisan proposition: The parties often don’t agree on any “commonly identified problems.” Indeed, as Ron Brownstein explains, that’s why Democrats and Republicans appear to be “talking past each other” in this year’s midterm-election chatter:

As the Democratic pollster Molly Murphy told me, 2022 is not an election year when most Americans “agree on what the top priorities [for the country] are” and debate “different solutions” from the two major parties. Instead, surveys show that Republican voters stress inflation, the overall condition of the economy, crime, and immigration. For Democratic voters, the top priorities are abortion rights, the threats to democracy created by former President Donald Trump and his movement, gun control, climate change, and health care.

Now this is not, of course, an entirely unprecedented phenomenon. Ever since polling and focus groups were invented, politicians have understood there are certain issues that favor or disfavor their own parties. For ages, Republicans have struggled to maintain credibility on fundamental fairness, maintenance of an adequate social safety net, and sensitivity to the needs of minorities, while Democrats aren’t really trusted to keep government efficient, attend to national security needs, or protect traditional moral values. Ceding whole areas to the opposition unfortunately tends to reinforce such stereotypes, which in turn makes loud shouting the way to elevate the issues one “owns.”

In living memory, some of the more innovative politicians in both parties have refused to play this game of ownership and instead sought to “capture,” or at least neutralize, the other party’s issues with distinctive policies of their own. Most famously, Bill Clinton, to the great dismay of Republicans and quite a few people in his own party, insisted on offering proposals aimed at reducing crime (e.g., community policing and deploying more officers on the streets), reforming welfare (originally a work-based proposal that maintained a personal entitlement to assistance), and “reinventing government.” Yes, Clinton, whose party did not control either chamber of Congress for six of his eight years in office, ultimately went too far in accommodating Republican policies on both crime and welfare reform (thus exposing him to the charge of “triangulating” against his own party). But the basic idea of offering Democratic proposals on public concerns outside the party’s comfort zone was smart, and it drove Republicans, who constantly complained that Clinton was “stealing our issues,” absolutely crazy.

Similarly, George W. Bush, on the advice of strategist Karl Rove, spent much of his first term offering modest but significant proposals on health care (a Medicare prescription-drug benefit), education (the No Child Left Behind Act), and immigration (a comprehensive reform measure) — all issues Democrats were generally thought to “own.” Like Clinton, he paid a price among party activists for “RINO” efforts to address “Democrat issues.” Arguably, the conservative backlash to his perceived heresies, especially on immigration, fed both the tea-party movement and its descendent, the MAGA movement, though Bush himself was clearly undone by the Iraq War and his inept reaction to a financial crisis. But the impulse to build credibility on salient public concerns where none existed was wise, and it was even in some minor respects emulated by Donald J. Trump (e.g., in his effort to co-opt criminal-justice reform via the Jared Kushner–brokered First Step Act).

Is anything like this kind of mold-breaking occurring at present? To some extent, Democrats have tried to address “Republican issues” involving the economy. Certainly, Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have spent much of 2021 and 2022 touting their budget proposals as essential to the task of building a strong economy. And while Joe Manchin might have been principally responsible for branding the fiscal year 2022 budget-reconciliation bill as an “Inflation Reduction Act,” by the time Biden signed the legislation, it had come to seem like a very good idea to most Democrats. The party has been less resolute in dealing with the crime issue, other than by constantly trying to rebut made-up claims that it wants to “defund the police” as part of an orgy of “wokeness.”

Republicans, perhaps because they thought they had a surefire winning message in 2022 and are loath to depart from it, have been less adept in adjusting to shifting public concerns that undermine their position. They justifiably think of abortion as a “Democrat issue” right now — one that threatens to boost Democratic turnout while flipping many suburban swing voters — and when Lindsey Graham tried to offer a proposal to reposition them on stronger ground, the reaction among Republicans was overwhelmingly negative, as the Washington Post reported:

In a memo to GOP campaigns released this week, the Republican National Committee laid out what it called a winning message on abortion: Press Democrats on where they stand on the procedure later in pregnancy, seek “common ground” on exceptions to bans and keep the focus on crime and the economy. Then, Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) introduced legislation to ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy — overshadowing new inflation numbers and undermining what many GOP strategists see as their best message for the fall: “Leave it to the states.”

“It’s an absolute disaster,” GOP strategist John Thomas said, as Republican Senate nominees already targeted for their comments on abortion were asked to weigh in. “Oy vey,” he said when informed that Blake Masters in battleground state Arizona had just expressed his support.

Even if Republicans succeed in making inflation or crime or border control more salient than abortion among 2022 voters, they will pay a price down the road — among voters generally and in their powerfully anti-abortion base — by running for the hills when an issue is raised that’s not going to go away in the foreseeable future. Maybe someday the two parties can get onto the same page when it comes to the menu of national problems they intend to address. But don’t hold your breath.

Dems erase GOP’s Senate advantage

Four factors, including a better political environment for Democrats and some struggling GOP candidates, have turned the Senate battle into a coin flip.

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/06/election-forecast-dems-gops-senate-00054842

The fight for control of the 50-50 Senate is a toss-up.

Over the past few months, the advantages Republicans enjoyed in Senate races have eroded, breathing new life into Democrats’ besieged majority. After rating the battle for the Senate as “Lean Republican” earlier this year, POLITICO’s Election Forecast now says neither party has a significant edge with two months to go until the midterms.

A number of factors contributed to Democrats’ resurgence, but the declining nationalheadwinds facing the party are most responsible. Democratic voters are energized after the Supreme Court’s abortion decision, and Donald Trump’s constant presence in the spotlight is driving Democratic anger.

Weaker Republican opponents in some states have also played a role: In Arizona, GOP nominee Blake Masters’ struggles since winning the primary last month have moved the state from “Toss Up” to “Lean Democratic” — a reflection of Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly’s growing lead over Masters.

The Arizona shift leaves four “Toss-Up” Senate races — two currently controlled by each party. If neither party wins one of the races where the opposition has an advantage now, Republicans would need to win three of the four “Toss Up” races to wrest control of the majority.

Here are the four key elements that have brought control of the Senate closer to a coin flip:

The improving political environment for Democrats

On July 1, the polling average ofPresident Joe Biden’s approval rating stood at 39 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight. As of Labor Day, it’s now 43 percent — still low, but enough of an improvement to raise Democrats’ fortunes.

Democrats have also erased a 2-point deficit on the generic congressional ballot over the same time period. They now lead Republicans by a point, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Though modest, that swing boosts Democrats’ Senate odds, since the battlefield is already centered in states Biden won in the 2020 presidential election. Biden carried each of the four remaining “Toss-Up” states — Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — in addition to the three currently rated “Lean Democratic”: Arizona, Colorado and New Hampshire.

If the GOP holds each of the “Lean Republican” states, it needs to win at least three Senateseats in Biden-won states — a tougher task if public opinion of the president’s job performance improves further over the next nine weeks.

Abortion as the pivot point

The biggest speed bump in Republicans’ march to the Senate majority has been the Supreme Court’s decision reversing nearly 50 years of federal abortion rights.

Between Democrats’ slight polling recovery, the party’s overperformance in recent special congressional elections and the results of a ballot initiative in solid-red Kansas, the high court’s Dobbs decision has delivered a jolt to the midterm landscape, at least temporarily.

It’s also scrambled the Senate landscape and sent candidates like Masters looking for a new message in the face of broad public disapproval of the court’s decision.

But Democrats still face this uncomfortable reality: The economy and inflation are still issue No. 1 for voters, and it’s still the message that shows up in most of both parties’ campaign ads.

Republicans’ candidate struggles

Masters is underfunded, lagging behind his Democratic opponent and getting swamped on the airwaves. Democrats have savaged him over his past statements, sending his negatives spiking — all after emerging from a fractious primary.

That’s bad enough for Republicans. Even worse is that Masters’ plight is not unique to GOP Senate challengers.

In addition to Masters, that could also be true of Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, or J.D. Vance in Ohio, or Herschel Walker in Georgia (though Walker’s primary victory was more decisive).

If Republicans have a candidate problem, it’s most acute in Arizona, where the top GOP super PAC, Senate Leadership Fund, canceled millions in planned advertising, diverting the money elsewhere, including to Ohio.

But Oz in Pennsylvania has also struggled: His image ratings are badly upside-down, though Republicans are hoping to narrow the race by attacking the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, as soft on crime.

And though Walker is in better shape in Georgia, allegations of domestic violence and fabricated elements of his resume are a staple of Democratic advertising, which aims to disqualify the former football star in the minds of potential swing voters.

Democrats (slightly) expanding the map

The GOP’s tension over its candidates is only half the story. Democrats are alsoopening new lanes in their fight to retain the majority, largely because their candidates have so much money.

Since the May primary, Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan has spent $12 million in Ohio — a significant sum that dwarfs Vance’s $300,000 (Vance and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have also run $1.7 million in coordinated ads). That’s a big reason why Senate Leadership Fund is diverting money from Arizona, where their candidate now trails, to Ohio, a state that should stay red — that is,as long as the GOP isn’t massively outspent.

The same is also true of Florida, where Democratic Rep. Val Demings’ $22 million in ads outpaced GOP Sen. Marco Rubio by a roughly 5-to-1 marginleading up to the August primary, according to data from the tracking firm AdImpact. And in North Carolina, Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley has spent $6.3 million on ads, while GOP Rep. Ted Budd has relied almost exclusively on the NRSC to respond.

All three races — Florida, North Carolina and Ohio — are rated “Lean Republican,” meaning the GOP is still favored. But Republicans are being forced to spend real money to defend those seats. Senate Leadership Fund has booked $27.7 million in ads in North Carolina and $27 million in Ohio.

While Democrats have broadened the Senate map, Republicans have struggled to do the same.

Republicans had high hopes for Tiffany Smiley’s well-funded challenge against Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) earlier this summer, but the results of the Aug. 2 all-party primary — in which Murray received 52 percent of the vote and other Democratic candidates took a few points more of the total vote — suggested the contest is unlikely to materialize. The race remains “Likely Democratic.”

Similarly, the GOP has touted its nominee in Colorado, Joe O’Dea. But his race against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet hasn’t become a top target either — it’s rated “Lean Democratic.”

A sea change that puts both blue-state seats in play would offer Republicans a wider path to the majority — but also would likely mean they’ve pulled ahead in states like Georgia and Pennsylvania. That hasn’t happened yet.

Is post-Roe voter registration benefiting Democrats?

Preliminary data suggests that enthusiasm is up among women and young voters in the midterms.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/9/4/23333329/roe-voter-registration-dobbs-midterms-democrats

Democrats appeared to be heading into the 2022 midterms with a perceived voter enthusiasm deficit brought on by inflation and an unpopular incumbent president. But over the last few months, the party’s outlook for the midterms has significantly improved, and many political strategists attribute the shift at least in part to voters’ outrage over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Many of these strategists — like Simon Rosenberg and James Carville — believe the threat of further restrictions on abortion access should the GOP take control of Congress, governor’s mansions, and statehouses will energize Democratic turnout in the fall. Several recent elections — including in New York’s 19th, where the Democratic winner centered his campaign on abortion access and the resounding rejection of a constitutional amendment that would have allowed state lawmakers to further restrict abortion access in Kansas — have been taken as early signs that Democrats are likely to fare better than expected in the fall.

Voter registration is another factor to consider when making midterm predictions. Tom Bonier, the CEO of the political data firm TargetSmart, has been analyzing publicly available voter files for every state. And he says that the data shows that young people (particularly young women) are registering to vote at a significantly higher rate in states where abortion rights are under threat since the Supreme Court’s June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That includes Kansas, where women registered to vote at more than twice the rate men did in the weeks between the ruling and the August 2 referendum on the constitutional amendment.

I spoke with Bonier about his findings and what they mean for Democrats’ midterm prospects. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Nicole Narea:

I know it’s still only been a few months, but I was hoping that you might be able to step back and give us a sense of what we do know, and we don’t know yet about how Dobbs is affecting voter registration.

Tom Bonier:

Kansas was the first state I looked at to see what had been going on leading up to the ballot initiative there. Voter registration data lags by a little bit, just depending on how and when the state reports it. But we were able to get enough data from Kansas, basically looking at registered voters before Dobbs and after Dobbs, and saw that women were 69 percent of the new registrants post-Dobbs and up to the ballot initiative election, which was crazy. I’ve just never seen anything like it.

Generally, voter registration is split pretty close to 50-50. It varies a little bit by state, but not much. To see a period of time over several weeks where women accounted for almost 70 percent of registered voters — I’ve never seen anything like that.

Then, we started looking at other states. There’s no state that comes close to Kansas in terms of that size of the gender gap, which makes sense. I mean, Kansas seems almost impossible. But in Kansas, they also had an immediate constitutional amendment ballot initiative as a referendum on the future of choice in the state. So it would make sense that women were more energized there than they might be in other states because the pattern that seems to be holding up is that the surges in registration among women seem to be more closely connected to states where choice is more at risk or it’s more relevant to specific elections this year.

To me, that’s interesting because I think people might assume it’s mostly going to be a blue state, big city phenomenon. And it’s just not the case. Kansas is the number one state [in terms of the gender gap], Idaho is number two, Louisiana is in the top five. But then you also have states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, and Michigan and Wisconsin, that all have significant gender gaps, as well. We’re talking more like 12 points, not 40 points, like you had in Kansas. But still, that’s substantial.

Nicole Narea:

Do we have a sense of who these women are who are registering? And what about men?

Tom Bonier:

It’s mostly younger women. In Kansas, over half of the women who registered to vote after Dobbs were under the age of 25 — 52 percent. You do see increases in the states among younger men, too. It’s just not keeping up. It certainly is an issue that seems to be energizing younger voters in general, just more so younger women than men.

Texas was an interesting one, because I thought that you would see a similar gender gap just given the political dynamics there. And what was interesting is women and men are registering at almost even rates in Texas. But what we have seen is much higher registration rates among younger voters in general. To me, that doesn’t suggest that women aren’t energized — it just suggests that younger women and younger men in Texas seem to be energized around Dobbs and are registering at high rates.

Nicole Narea:

Do Democrats have more to gain here from these new registrations? The fact that women are registering at a higher rate would suggest that it’s a high salience issue, but not necessarily what their position is.

Tom Bonier:

In every state that I’ve looked at so far, when you look at the under-25 voters who have registered since Dobbs, and then compare them to the under-25 voters who registered this year prior to Dobbs, they’re even more Democratic. You see the same pattern with women who are registering post-Dobbs versus those who registered prior to Dobbs. They’re more likely to be registered as Democrats by a pretty wide margin.

If you want to look at it through the partisan lens, all the data we’re seeing at this point suggests that the registration surge since Dobbs is very much to the benefit of Democrats.

Nicole Narea:

You’ve been talking about this in terms of younger voters and women making up a larger share of newly registered voters. I’m also wondering to what extent we are seeing a surge in the number of registrations generally, or whether that’s hard to measure.

Tom Bonier:

For our analysis, we’re looking at what percent of the new registrants are men and women, [Democrat] versus Republican or unaffiliated or independent. Generally, as we get closer to the election and until we hit registration deadlines in both states, what we’ll see is more people registering in general. So just seeing more women register to vote by itself isn’t meaningful — but seeing women occupy a larger share of the registers is.

It’s not necessarily just relevant in that we’re going to have more new registrants, and therefore, there’ll be this surge of new voters voting in November who can impact the outcome of the election. Certainly, there’s the potential for that to some degree. But even in high turnout presidential elections, first-time voters generally only account for a relatively small share of the electorate, maybe 7 to 15 percent of voters. In a midterm election, it’s generally going to be a smaller share.

What’s interesting to me is, when you see surges in enthusiasm reflected in registration historically, it almost always is then mirrored in surges in enthusiasm and turnout among those groups overall. So it stands to reason that what we’re seeing isn’t just relevant because it means more women are eligible to vote, but it indicates that women in general are far more attuned to this election and therefore far more likely to vote.

We saw it in 2018, when younger voters were registering at a much higher rate than they had in the previous two midterms. And sure enough, younger voters almost doubled their vote share between 2014 and 2018. So the data we’re seeing here is similar.

Biden finally said it: Trump and MAGA Republicans are a threat to democracy. He’s right.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/columnist/2022/09/02/biden-trump-maga-republicans-speech-philadelphia-huppke/7965143001/

President Joe Biden finally said the words Americans gobsmacked by the MAGA-fication of American politics have been waiting to hear: “Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal.”

He’s right. And I’d argue a sizable majority of Americans, including many Republicans, know he’s right.

It’s not normal to deny the results of a free and fair election. It’s not normal to incite an attack on the U.S. Capitol and then side with the attackers once justice is meted out. It’s not normal to demonize any government institution or official – from the Department of Justice to the FBI to a certain vice president – who doesn’t kowtow to one leader’s demands.

‘Blind loyalty to a single leader … is fatal to democracy’

“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” Biden said Thursday night outside Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, later adding that “blind loyalty to a single leader … is fatal to democracy.”

He’s right. Any honest, rational person can see he’s right, and many have been saying the same things for years. But never have Americans heard this tough love delivered so clearly and so directly from someone as powerful as the U.S. president.

Biden’s speech will surely bring untold wailing and teeth-gnashing from the right. There’s an argument that, at a moment when Biden’s political standing is on the upswing, it was a risky speech. But it was, above all else, necessary. 

The election denialism, the outlandish-to-the-point-of-being-embarrassing conspiracy theories, the rise of weird weekend MAGA warriors training as if their militia might take on the U.S. military – none of it is normal. It’s dangerous, and it’s about damn time an adult stood up and said, “Enough.”

This was not a speech targeting all Republicans

Biden made abundantly clear that he’s not talking about ALL Republicans. He specified MAGA Republicans, people enthralled with the former president – the one who has done nothing since leaving office but spin lies aimed at destabilizing our democracy.

“I want to be very clear,” the president said. “Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans.”

Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner:My father was a poor immigrant who bet on America

But, Biden continued: “MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.”

Again, he’s right. No hardcore MAGA devotee will ever see it that way, but anyone with consciousness and a shred of intellectual honesty will.

There is a loud minority in this country addicted to the adrenaline rush of anger, and that addiction is fed daily by the former president. I don’t think they’re reachable, and Biden, by delivering his “That’s Enough With This Malarkey!” speech, clearly doesn’t think so, either.

So why should he stay quiet about a gathering storm? Why should he not try to unite the rest of us – the reachable – around a common goal of protecting democracy from a movement incompatible with our nation’s ideals?

As if to drive Biden’s point home, hecklers tried to interrupt his speech with shouts of “(Expletive) you Biden!”

Biden stopped at one point and said: “They’re entitled to be outrageous. This is a democracy.”

Patriotism vs. lunkheaded antics

That’s the difference, folks. Biden spoke forcefully and honestly about a real threat to democracy, with arms open to reasonable people outside his own party. MAGA hecklers shouted profanities at the president of the United States, in deference to a man who has shown repeatedly he cares nothing about democracy.

It’s seriousness vs. stupidity. Patriotism vs. lunkheaded antics. An adult vs. a child.

You don’t have to love Biden. Heck, many in his own party don’t love him.

And that’s kind of the point. That’s why him saying these things is so important.

Because if you’re a MAGA Republican, you do have to love Donald Trump. You can’t be in his party if you don’t love him. And you show your love by attacking his “enemies,” and his enemies, tragically, are us.

Biden knows that’s not how America should work. So he stood up like an adult and he said it: “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”

Finally.

Finally, finally, finally.

Editorial: Virginia DSS can’t get funds to those in need

https://fredericksburg.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-virginia-dss-cant-get-funds-to-those-in-need/article_31608d6c-fabb-549f-ad42-7127b487396e.html

There is little more disabling to a resident than coming home to find the water shut off. Unfortunately, many poor Virginians are facing that prospect as protections put in place to prevent shut-offs during COVID are now expiring.

To assist high-poverty families struggling with water and sewer bills post-COVID, the federal government in 2021 approved more than $1.1 billion for a program known as LIHWAP (low income household water assistance program). Each state received a share of these funds to help the poor bring their water and sewer bills up to date and avoid shut-off.

That money is being put to good use in most states. Here in Virginia, however, not a single cent has been distributed.

According to a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as of March 30, 2022, 41 states and over 56 tribes had implemented their programs and started fund distribution. In Virginia, however, the program still hasn’t gotten off the ground.

The commonwealth received nearly $22.5 million in 2021 to get LIHWAP up and going, with $10 million of that money coming from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The state’s initial estimate was that the program would be operational by April 2022. As we enter the month of September, people still can’t apply to access these funds.

The number of those affected by the state’s failure to get the program moving is not inconsequential.

In Stafford County, as of June 9, there were 5,123 accounts listed as 30-or-more days delinquent; 2,378 listed at 60+ days, and 1,585 at 90+ days. Accounts that are 90 days delinquent or more are most at risk of having their service disconnected.

The total amount due in Stafford County for accounts 90 or more days overdue? More than $627,000.

In Spotsylvania County, 3,585 accounts are 30-or-more days delinquent as of Aug. 30; 1,341 are listed at 60+ days, and 456 are at 90+ days.

The Free Lance–Star reached out to Denise Surber, energy assistance program manager with the Virginia Department of Social Services, to ask why the state has been so slow in launching this program.

She acknowledged via email through a spokesperson that things were off to a slow start, but she offered no explanation beyond “contractual delays have resulted in the planned launch to be moved to September 2022.”

Were the delays the fault of the state? The company the state is contracting with?

And why have 41 other states managed to get their programs up and running, including the programs in North Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania?

Benjamin Litchfield wants to know why, too.

“When I assumed the role of Aquia District Utilities Commissioner” on June 7, he told The Free Lance–Star, “it appeared that Virginia DSS was still negotiating vendor agreements and had yet to decide how to implement the program. … I’ve been pestering county staff about the status of this program ever since.”

On June 9, Litchfield asked Christopher Edwards of the Stafford County Department of Public Works what he knew about progress on the program.

Edwards forwarded Litchfield a summary from Deidre Jett, budget manager for the department. Citing Surber, Jett wrote: “the vendor agreement should be sent out by the end of the week.”

As for when the state would implement the program? Jett noted that “In regards to timing and how the program will work (manual versus electronic), not much progress since the last meeting [with the state DSS office].”

It is clear from Litchfield’s efforts that from April to June, the state DSS office had been dragging its feet. Has it done better since?

Apparently not, as Surber is still talking about a “planned launch” in September.

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger is equally frustrated. “It is unacceptable that it has taken this long … and I am closely following for updates on the expected implementation timeline.”

In our region, the difference between having water tomorrow and not having water for many of our poorer residents lies in getting this program off the ground.

Surber’s suggestion to those waiting for that to happen? A laundry list of other groups to track down. People, she said, should seek “additional assistance from community partners, community action agencies, and non-profit organizations.”

Those in need shouldn’t have to do this. Not when the money is in place to ensure that water is flowing through the pipes in their homes tomorrow.

Muslim Cemetery Issues Show Vanuch Must Go

Image courtesy of: https://potomaclocal.com/2019/04/22/vanuch-vows-to-curb-stafford-residential-growth-traffic-congestion/

By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair

You know when you have been sued by the Trump Justice Department over discrimination that the problem must be unbelievably bad. Stafford County was sued last year by the U.S. Department of Justice and the All Muslim Association of America because of actions taken by the Stafford Board of Supervisors to stop a Muslim cemetery on Garrionsville Road. In brief, Stafford County Supervisor Crystal Vanuch led the effort by the Supervisors to prevent the cemetery from opening. She happens to live across the street from the proposed cemetery. She claimed that there was danger to wells and drinking water by the proximity of the cemetery. The Virginia Dept. of Health recommended a 100-foot setback. However, Vanuch and the mostly Republicans Board of Supervisors approved a 900-foot setback. This was, strangely enough, large enough to encompass the entire proposed cemetery and prevent it from being developed. Last August, after spending $35,000 on a study, the Board amended the setback to 656-feet. Vanuch voted against it. The lawsuit has not gone away either. The county has spent $523, 945 fighting it so far.

Is bad water the only reason Vanuch does not want a Muslim cemetery across the street? The Free Lance-Star of Feb. 2 reported that Supervisor Tinesha Allen said, in a deposition filed in the case, that Vanuch told her that she “doesn’t want to see a [expletive] Muslim cemetery across from her and she would rather die before she allowed her husband to be reminded of those people.” Vanuch denies that she said this, but her actions on the Board speak otherwise. It appears, due to their approval of the 900-foot setback, that the Republican Board probably agrees with her.

Regardless of the reasons for the Republican Board’s decisions, the result is that the county is being sued and must defend the suit or settle it. Either way it will cost us all potentially millions in unnecessary expense. We need to replace these expensive, prejudiced Republican supervisors at the next election.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

Republicans Two-Pronged Strategy: Suppress and Intimidate

Image courtesy of: https://potomaclocal.com/2019/04/22/vanuch-vows-to-curb-stafford-residential-growth-traffic-congestion/

By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair

Republicans are faced with a popular president who is passing extremely popular legislation that they have been fighting tooth and nail to keep from becoming law. They have no platform, ideas, or proposals for what they would do if they held power again. So, their strategy for the near future boils down to two things:

1. Suppressing the vote. Republicans know they cannot win if people are free to vote. So, they will continue to try to pass bills that keep people, particular minorities, from voting freely.

2. Attacking a vulnerable population to enrage their base. They will continue to attack immigrants, as always. The border will be their go-to argument for bringing them back to power. They will argue, as Tucker Carlson has, that there is a plot to “replace” true Americans (read white Americans) with immigrants. This “replacement” argument is a true white supremacist theory that Fox News and other conservative sites have come to embrace. And, additionally, they are now centering their attacks on trans-children. Many states are trying to enact legislation to prevent medical treatment of trans-children or to report “gender nonconformity” to parents. This population is one of the most vulnerable to attack. They really cannot fight back. There are millions of children living in poverty in the U.S. with no available health care, yet this is the issue Republicans want to spend their time on.

That seems to be it. Nothing else matters. Power for the sake of power. This, unfortunately, is what Republicans have come to.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

Biden Delivers Help with American Rescue Plan

Image courtesy of: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56903805

By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair

A great thing happened the other day. The American Rescue Plan proposed by President Biden was signed into law. Not only does this provide much needed money to speed vaccination plans and help Americans meet the devastating economic costs of the pandemic, but this is the most comprehensive legislation to improve childhood poverty in 50 years!

Most Americans will receive a check for $1,400 in relief benefits. Additionally, there is $160 billion for vaccination distribution. The plan also provides $300 per month in unemployment benefits through September 6. There is $130 billion to help fully open schools. Homeowners receive $25 billion in rental assistance, $5 billion to help pay home energy and water costs and workers get $50 billion in paycheck protection. Healthcare can be more accessible with the $34.2 billion for expansion of the Affordable Care Act. And the plan allows a child tax credit of $3600 per child under the age of 6 and $3000 per child up to age 17. This increases the credit from only $2000 per child.

It should be noted that the plan is supported by 70% of the American people. Despite this overwhelming approval by the public, not a single Republican voted for the plan in Congress. This colossal failure to act includes our First District Representative Rob Wittman. When you receive your check for $1,400 remember that Republicans did not want you to receive them or any of the help offered by the Biden plan for that matter. They should be held to account for their failure.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

Wittman Must Go NOW

Image courtesy of: https://bluevirginia.us/2021/01/rep-rob-wittman-r-va01-gets-absolutely-ripped-on-his-facebook-page-for-voting-against-impeaching-trump

By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair

Many Republicans are saying that we need to heal and unify after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. But, before there can be healing there needs to be an accounting. As Republicans like to say, there must be “personal responsibility” taken for this tragedy.

Representative Rob Wittman of the First Congressional District of Virginia, there are two things you can do to salvage the tattered remains of your rapidly diminishing reputation.

  1.  Tell the truth to the American people. There is no election fraud and there never was any election fraud. This was a lie concocted by Donald Trump and perpetuated by you and other enablers in order to sow division and to raise campaign funds. The actions on January 6 of several Senators and the majority of the Republican caucus, including you, to try to decertify the electoral votes of several swing states, were based on this lie and were merely a stunt. It was performance art, again designed to sow division and raise funds. You did it because you thought there would be no consequence and it would entertain your constituents. It would have no effect on the outcome of the election because more responsible representatives would not go along with it. But, there were consequences. I invite you to view the photograph of a policeman being savagely beaten on the Capitol steps by a murderous mob. This is your legacy: sedition, insurrection and death. I hope you will spend the rest of your life thinking about this man and his family. I hope you have called the families of the five persons who died to inform them that you are sorry for the deaths of their loved ones caused by an irresponsible act.
  2. The second thing that you can do is to resign your office. Because you engaged in an attempt to disenfranchise the voters of Pennsylvania based on lies known to you and because you perpetuated the lies of Donald Trump about non-existent election fraud you have violated your oath of office to the Constitution. You have encouraged sedition and insurrection which resulted in death, destruction and personal injury. You have lost the trust and confidence of the people of the First Congressional District. You are not worthy of the high office which you occupy. Your last official act can be one that actually benefits the people. Resign now and begin the healing.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

Wittman’s Undemocratic Act

Image courtesy of: https://bluevirginia.us/2021/01/rep-rob-wittman-r-va01-gets-absolutely-ripped-on-his-facebook-page-for-voting-against-impeaching-trump

By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair

First Congressional District Congressman Rob Wittman joined 125 other Republican members of Congress to sign an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit brought by the State of Texas. It was an attempt to overturn the results of the popular vote in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. This case was brought by Texas along with 17 other Republican state Attorneys General. The suit, not based in law or fact, was doomed to be dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which occurred on Dec. 11 in a 9-0 unanimous vote.

This was a profoundly undemocratic and seditious lawsuit. The avowed purpose of the suit was to deny the lawful votes of millions of citizens in four states simply because Republicans did not agree with the result. The House Republicans, including Mr. Wittman, signed onto the amicus brief, in part, to avoid being criticized by President Trump. But, more importantly, they all agreed that the votes of millions of Americans should simply be discarded. These are the acts of persons who have relinquished all the principles and integrity that they may have once had in servitude to a cult of personality. They once claimed to be constitutionalists, but this is definitely an anti-constitutional act in support of an authoritarian mission to overthrow an election.

I deplore the action taken by Rep. Wittman. This is not the sort of act that any American politician who claims to believe in democracy and free and fair elections should take part in. Republicans who believe in the rule of law should join Democrats to denounce Rep. Wittman and show the world that we believe in the peaceful and lawful transfer of power to a duly elected president.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.