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The 2022 Debate Takes Shape: Real Solutions v. Rank Racism

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GOP gears up to run on white grievance and xenophobia; Democrats gear up to run on big breakthroughs that change lives

Washington, DC – Yesterday’s Trump-Abbott border visit stunt is the latest reminder that Republicans are gearing up to run in 2022 and 2024 on race-baiting, fear mongering and xenophobia. Meanwhile, Biden and the Democrats are gearing up to run on their record of going big, delivering change and proving that democracy and government can work for ordinary Americans again. 

In a Politico piece titled “Republicans go all-in on immigration as a political weapon,” Republican National Committee member Shawn Steel said, “immigration and crime will be the ‘twin drivers’ of Republicans’ midterm campaigns.” Added Carl Fogliani, a Republican strategist, “There’s a reason why Trump got elected. It’s the dominant issue. It’s obvious.”

In a must-watch segment from last night, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes captured the fundamental divide between the two parties’ visions of governance and politics. Titled “GOP Governors Perform Trump Cosplay Instead of Actually Governing,” he contrasts the way Biden and the Democrats are focused on getting the country moving forward while Trump and Republicans are engaged in performative politics aimed at riling up their base:

It has been more than five months since Inauguration Day January 20, 2021 when Joe Biden took the oath of office and sworn in as our 46th President. And since that day, starting on day one, it has been clear I think to everyone Joe Biden had one key primary job, right, to suppress the Coronavirus. 

…Instead of actually governing, doing this very important thing, a lot of Republicans are busy performing, auditioning, hoping to rise in the party ranks. Just look at what Governors Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Greg Abbott of Texas are up to. Governor Abbott in Texas, you’ll remember, started lifting COVID restrictions all the way back in April of 2020, the first state to do so.

Now, vaccinations in Texas are not good. They are lagging … But instead of focusing on that pressing issue, Governor Abbott was busy making a stunt appearance with Donald Trump today visiting the Southern Border to tour the former President’s unfinished wall.

And there’s Kristi Noem, the South Dakota governor who clearly has her eye on the Republican presidential nomination … For a time, Governor Noem’s state had one of the highest case and death rates in the entire country … But Kristi Noem is more concerned with not being left out of Donald Trump and Governor Abbott’s fun at the border. Hey guys, can I get in? Yesterday, she announced she’s deploying National Guard troops from South Dakota to Texas at Abbott’s request, get this, funding by a private donation from a billionaire Republican donor who has donated over half a million dollars to Donald Trump in last few years. 

…We all understand that Joe Biden’s job is to get the country running again, to keep people safe and healthy and get America on its feet. And Republicans understand their job is to keep feeding performative nonsense to a base with an insatiable and apparently depthless appetite for it.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: 

2022 is shaping up as a contest between real solutions and strategic racism. Democrats want to change lives; Republicans want to stoke fear. Democrats want to heal the country; Republicans want to divide the country; Democrats want to save democracy; Republicans want to degrade democracy. 

Democrats measure their success by how many people are vaccinated, how many people are working, how much are workers getting paid, how fair is our tax system, how many schools are safely reopened, and how much progress are we making in rescuing democracy, achieving equality, addressing climate change, supporting care workers, reducing gun violence, and expanding citizenship for immigrants. 

Republicans measure their success by how many seats they control in legislatures across the country, how many votes from the opposition they can suppress or dismiss, how successful they are in distracting voters from kitchen table issues with culture war battles, and how often they get on Fox News.

In the face of this ugliness, Democrats need to deliver change supported by the majority of Americans, define themselves as the solutions party that gets big things done, and call out  Republicans for their cynical deployment of racism and xenophobia in pursuit of the regaining power so the white identity movement in the minority can impose their will on the multiracial majority.

The good news: most Democrats have followed this playbook in close races since 2017. That is why Democrats went from being in the minority to being in the majority. Going forward, Democrats need to use every ounce of that majority to go big, go now, and produce change. GOP antics, racism and wedge issues won’t stand a chance if democratic governance works to make lives better.

Read more from America’s Voice: Stats, Stunts and Solutions: What You Need to Know About the Trump-Abbott Border Visit