This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for American democracy writes columnist Dana Milbank in the Washington Post. “This is no time to be on the sidelines.” Excerpts and comments follow.
Consider: Milbank identifies six Senate seats now held by Republicans - and not a single Democrat running for them. Here are three candidates for Georgia, Colorado, and Texas who, it seems, are putting their own ambitions first. I’ll enumerate the Senate seats.
(1) Stacey Abrams: Stand up and be counted. “I do not want to serve in the Senate,” says the hugely popular former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee.
(2) Steve Bullock: Stand up and be counted. “My talents are best suited” to an executive role, says Montana’s well-liked Democratic governor.
(3) Beto O’Rourke: Stand up and be counted. “That would not be good enough” to serve in the Senate, says the gifted former Democratic congressman from Texas.
Sorry, but what’s not “good enough” are those answers …
Some sunshine soldiers have already let down the cause, declining Democratic entreaties to run for the Senate in states such as Iowa and North Carolina, where Trump-enablers (4) Joni Ernst and (5) Thom Tillis, respectively, seek reelection. But none of those prospects had the potential to transform races in the way Bullock, Abrams and possibly O’Rourke could.
With the retirement of the ailing (6) Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), both Georgia Senate seats will be on the ballot next year. And the Democrats’ best candidate won’t run for either? That’s a gift to Trump’s enablers.
Back on the ranch, Mark Kelly is campaigning for the AZ Senate seat now held by (unelected) Martha McSally. The pundits have changed their estimation of this race from leaning Republican to toss-up. It’s winnable. McSally has a primary challenger that is further to the right than she is, quite possibly dragging her even more rightward and bucking demographic trends. That makes seven possible Senate seats for Dems to pick up and flip the Senate.
Here’s the thing.
… these are not ordinary times. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment not just for Democrats but for American democracy. If the anti-Trump majority doesn’t prevail next year and resoundingly repudiate the hatred, isolation and drift toward autocracy, it won’t much matter what happens later. Abrams, Bullock and O’Rourke owe it to the country to end the reign of President Trump’s enablers in the Senate.
… The Senate has become a toxic workplace, and service there unrewarding. That’s thanks in large part to the amorality of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The majority leader and his caucus could have stood up to Trump’s indecency. Instead, he, and it, pursued power with no principles: breaking Senate rules, allowing Russia’s ongoing interference in U.S. elections, refusing to even consider legislation that could stop the mass shootings that are terrorizing America’s children. They have shown that they are too cowardly and too self-interested to be a check on Trump’s abuses.
But that’s all the more reason to run. If Trump somehow prevails next year, it’s crucial he not have a McConnell-led Senate to ratify his ruinous ways. And if Trump is to be defeated next year, it will be because the most capable people stepped up to challenge him — at all levels. Trumpism must be defeated resoundingly, and that means holding to account Republicans who failed to follow their conscience.
Even now, with still-strong employment numbers, polls show Trump’s Democratic challengers defeating him. If the economy tanks before the election (it’s only a matter of time because of the damage Trump has added to the nation’s finances, his politicization of monetary policy and his destabilization of international trade), there is the possibility of a thunderous repudiation of Trump — but only if Trump’s opposition goes all-in.
The message to these (and other) possible Senate candidates is this: you can’t catch the (Blue) wave if you’re not surfing.