A message from Democrats to anyone who watched Tuesday’s Pennsylvania Senate debate — focus on the “D” next to John Fetterman’s name, not the misfiring neurons in his frontal lobe.
“At this point, party is all that matters,” New York Times columnist Gail Collins wrote Wednesday. “[W]hatever [Fetterman’s] condition, don’t express your concern by helping turn the Senate over to Mitch McConnell.”
Jacobin columnist David Sirota took it a step further. “Here’s a truth few will say aloud but I will: Being a senator is America’s easiest job. You just have to sit there & say ‘yay’ or ‘nay,’” he tweeted. “This notion that @JohnFetterman can’t do that job because he’s recovering from a health event is moronic — and everyone in media knows it.”
Their argument is that we should view candidates as fungible units that can be relied upon to advance the party’s agenda, not as individuals whose personal character and abilities matter. Better a majority of literal blue dogs trained to push buttons than a minority of competent legislators. They don’t seem worried that Fetterman could get confused and cast the deciding vote to pass a national abortion ban.
It’s a fair argument to make, but if they’re going to make it, they owe Trump voters an apology.
In 2016 and again in 2020, Trump voters were bombarded with the exact opposite message: “Sure, Trump might slash regulations and secure the border and do some other stuff you like, but he’s CRAZY! He doesn’t even understand how the government works. We need an adult in charge. For all you know, Orange Man might wake up in a bad mood and decide to nuke Paris. Voting on the basis of anything but competence is irresponsible — unpatriotic, even.”
Thankfully, millions of Americans didn’t listen. Conservatives disgusted by Trump’s adulteries, annoyed by his thin-skinned outbursts and skeptical of his conservative bona fides held their noses and voted for him in droves because a Republican president would appoint conservative Supreme Court justices. And thanks to those voters, Roe v. Wade is no more.
With his relatively even disposition and a political career stretching back roughly to the Johnson administration (Andrew Johnson, that is), Biden is obviously a more qualified and less volatile president than Trump. But so what? Would any conservative not named Bill Kristol say we’re better off with Biden in charge?
And yet, Democrats and their RINO allies are still trying to play this game.
On Thursday, outgoing Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney endorsed Democratic Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who faces a tight race in her district. “I have come to know Elissa as a good and honorable public servant,” Cheney said. “While Elissa and I have our policy disagreements, at a time when our nation is facing threats at home and abroad, we need serious, responsible, substantive members like Elissa in Congress.”
There you have it. For Cheney, a steady hand is what matters, even if that hand is ripping apart a full-term fetus.
Polarization is ugly, but it’s real. We won’t get rid of it by pretending it’s not there. I wish we had the luxury of voting based on character and competence. But we don’t. At this point, both sides would prefer a defective candidate who votes “correctly” to a stable genius who doesn’t. It’s time we stopped pretending otherwise.