In the wake of the protests of Brett Kavanaugh’s ascendance to the Supreme Court, Republicans have settled on a election argument they think will turn out their base: The Democrats are ruled by an “angry mob” and would destroy every institution they could if elected. Only Republicans can preserve a democratic government and the rule of law.
It’s a rich argument, given the Republicans’ increasing extremism under President Barack Obama, and one that essentially appropriates Democratic arguments against Trump and Republicans dating back to the 2016 election. But now, with their base energized by videos of protestors chanting “shame” at Republican senators who voted to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Trump is leaning into the idea that Democrats are the real extremists.
At a rally in Iowa on Tuesday, the president said Democrats had become “totally unhinged,” while reciting the names of party officials who called for Kavanaugh’s confirmation to be blocked. (The crowd went as far as to chant “lock her up” about Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Diane Feinstein.) “The Democrats have become too extreme and, frankly, they’ve become too dangerous to govern,” he said. “They’ve gone wacko.”
Trump’s argument about the Democrats’ determination to burn it all down extended to health care, despite the fact that his administration has repeatedly and deliberately moved to destabilize the Affordable Care Act. In an op-ed written for USA Today, Trump argued that Democratic proposals to create a universal health care system would “end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives.” In the op-ed Trump casts Republicans as protectors of Medicare, despite the fact that they have spent decades gutting and attempting to privatize the program in an attempt to scare seniors into turning out.
“The new Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela,” he wrote. “If Democrats win control of Congress this November, we will come dangerously closer to socialism in America. Government-run health care is just the beginning.”
Trump’s efforts to turn Kavanaugh’s confirmation and concern over health care costs into wedge issues may drive out parts of the Republican base. But polling shows that both issues favor Democrats, and that the party continues to lead the Republicans by double-digits on the generic ballot.