As the summer of 2022 dawned,  it seemed as if everything was turning in the Republican Party’s direction politically: Inflation was fueling fears of a forthcoming recession, gas prices were sky high, crime was rising across the country and Joe Biden’s approval rating was sinking like a stone.

Although they’d managed to notch a few legislative victories here and there, Democrats hadn’t been able to pass anything addressing the top concerns of either the wider electorate or their base. In short, it seemed as if the governing party in Washington was frittering away its presumably short-lived majority, proving that they couldn’t be trusted to do anything while in office. Biden wasn’t even making major moves with his executive authority, let alone getting any bills passed.

Oh, how the tables have turned for the Democrats since then – or, at least, a pliable media would have you convinced that they have. To go by this newly emerging narrative, Democrats have managed to get major bills passed that addressed climate change, gun control and inflation – even if they had to go it alone because Republicans obstinately stood in their way at every turn. Republicans, meanwhile, have only managed to do one thing: overturn Roe v. Wade with the compliant Supreme Court they installed, a move that enraged and motivated the Democratic base all over the country. That’s why Democrats have notched a string of special election victories in recent days, a sign that the political winds might be shifting in their direction.

There’s a certain amount of truth to this narrative. As with any good piece of fiction, it’s not entirely invented. Democrats have managed to pass a few bills, mostly along party lines, although they’re hardly sweeping measures that would completely solve the problems they claim to address. The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act might well have the intended effect of reducing inflation, for instance, but it’s unlikely to do so in a way that many voters will notice before November.

Similarly, even if you accept the theory that increasing gun control will decrease crime, the bill they passed was hardly a sweeping one – that’s why it was able to attract a bare modicum of bipartisan support. None of the pieces of legislation passed recently is likely to have a huge impact on voters’ lives right away, but they may help Democrats convince some of those voters that they can, occasionally, get things done.

It’s no surprise that most of the mainstream media is willing to go along with the narrative that things are looking up for Democrats. What’s surprising isn’t that the mainstream media is helping Democrats recover the narrative, but that Republican leadership – if you want to even call it that – seems to be working overtime to help turn that narrative into a reality.

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Apart from the special election victories, Senate Republicans have recently cut back on their spending heading into the general election. That’s not just uncommon, it’s virtually unprecedented, and it indicates that the traditionally effective Republican fundraising operation is falling short of its goals. This may be because donors aren’t particularly inspired by the minority’s effectiveness in fighting the Democrats’ big-government agenda. If that’s the explanation, it’s certainly understandable. You’d be forgiven, these days, if you completely forgot that there were any Republicans in the United States Senate at all. This fundraising shortfall isn’t just a problem for federal candidates. We’ve also seen it here in Maine, where Paul LePage – a successful fundraiser in the past – has lagged behind Janet Mills in that critical area.

There may also be another reason that fundraising is slipping for Senate Republicans, and it’s the nomination of a series of candidates, in various states, whom even Mitch McConnell has admitted are flawed. The nomination of these candidates in competitive races, rather than in safer conservative states, could certainly make life more difficult for the Republican Party in November.

If the Republican Party blows what once appeared to be an unprecedented opportunity for victory this fall, conservatives across the country have every right to be furious with party leadership, from the state to the federal level. We must not allow them to simply shrug their shoulders and move on, letting all the same people remain in charge. If Republicans fail to make major gains this year, we must replace party leadership across the board, both nationally and here in Maine. If we don’t do that, the Republican Party will just keep doing the same things and just keep losing – and they will deserve it.

Jim Fossel, a conservative activist from Gardiner, worked for Sen. Susan Collins. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @jimfossel


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