Shocker—Republicans acquired caught up in a ineffective spherical of conservative media-fueled demagoguery whereas the remainder of America reeled from the best public well being catastrophe in a century. Democrats merely blew proper previous Republicans to reply the nationwide want. However what confounds GOP strategists is that the Republican occasion actually mounted no concerted effort to oppose the Democratic laws because it gained widespread traction and was broadly embraced by voters.
That is left folks like Steve Bannon crying in his espresso. “It’s a reasonably well-liked invoice that polled properly as a result of it’s been bought as a COVID reduction invoice with direct money funds to People—what’s to not like?” Bannon mentioned. “Nonetheless, that’s not what the invoice is. That’s an enormous drawback as a result of 2022 has already began and also you don’t see the struggle right here.”
The Republican Nationwide Committee, as an example, issued a meager two statements concerning the invoice. Conservative media went down the Seuss-Potato rabbit gap. And GOP lawmakers—who helped Donald Trump crank up the national debt by $7.8 trillion—apparently felt a bit squeamish about out of the blue attacking pandemic-related spending.
“Republicans misplaced credibility on [the deficit] difficulty throughout the Trump years, particularly the primary couple years once we had the facility to do one thing about it,” mentioned Brendan Steinhauser, a GOP marketing consultant. “There was little interest in doing something about it. It was simply, ‘let’s not even speak about spending or the debt or deficit or something like that.’”
Even Democrats have been baffled by the Republican whiff on such a significant battle. John Anzalone, an exterior Biden adviser and former Biden marketing campaign pollster, was amazed that Republicans settled on framing the package deal as unrelated to COVID-19 when so many People who will get the reduction cash are particularly reeling from pandemic-related sickness, joblessness, and monetary struggles.
“That is simply actually mind-boggling,” Anzalone mentioned. “At a time that we’re going via three or 4 crises without delay, they’ve mainly simply punted. They’ve fully punted.”
However the lack of a coordinated GOP marketing campaign with solely helter-skelter makes an attempt to mount an opposition is absolutely emblematic of a a lot greater drawback for the Republican occasion—it not is aware of what it’s or what it stands for. With no core values to function on after they spent 4 years surrendering the occasion to a very unmoored Donald Trump, Republicans haven’t any go-to performs and even messengers for that matter.
And as soon as once more, their essential messenger—Trump—was so consumed together with his personal pity occasion over the misplaced election and impeachment that it crippled the occasion’s means to choose a line of assault and prosecute it within the media.
This will probably be a continuous drawback transferring ahead for Republicans. It isn’t solely a query of, “what do they stand for?” however one in every of, “who may even carry that message”?
Individuals like Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina made feeble makes an attempt at smearing the laws, calling it “reparations” for Black farmers. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas skewered Democrats for not excluding inmates from getting reduction. However Cotton had voted in favor of a COVID-19 package deal beneath Trump that additionally included funds for these exact same inmates.
The dearth of each message and messenger has left Republicans hoping in opposition to hope that reduction that has already began hitting financial institution accounts and can proceed to focus on life-saving funds to the nation’s neediest will one way or the other plummet in recognition.
“It’s on the peak of its recognition proper now and the extra it turns into unpopular we’ll pound in opposition to them,” mentioned one GOP aide.
However who precisely will do the pounding and what within the heck will they are saying? Nobody even has a clue—least of all, Republicans.