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Cancel Culture Part II: Senate Trial Edition

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Looks like the circus is moving to the Senate.

In an opinion piece I wrote, actually just a few days ago, I argued that part of the reason House leadership is pushing the impeachment hearings now is so that they can use the soundbites and negative press against any Republican who dares to question their motives. We’ve seen this play out in attacks on Elise Stefanik of New York, Devin Nunes of California and others. They have begun this process despite strategists and non-partisans (those still left) scratching their heads as to why the Democrats would do this NOW on the doorstep of what they have to be considering as the most impactful and important presidential election the world has ever seen.

It’s not hard to argue that the impeachment hearings are doing nothing more than further dividing the electorate and forcing those in the middle to again vote for whom they dislike the least. Some recent polling suggests exactly that: when it comes to the president’s job approval numbers, the impeachment inquiry and hearings are not having a negative impact. In fact, in both the latest Rasmussen poll and the latest Economist/YouGov poll, his numbers are up.

Contrast this with the fact that attacking the president and pushing for impeachment hasn’t really seemed to be a winning message for the Democratic candidates on the campaign trail. Kamala Harris was a loud voice for impeachment. She will still have a say, just not from a presidential debate platform. Warren is also adamant about her position, and she’s not exactly seizing onto frontrunner status because of it. Pete Buttigieg on the other hand, has tried to take a more measured approach while still technically calling for impeachment, and his campaign seems to be the only one with any real juice at the moment.

But “real juice” is relative, and Democratic leadership, despite what some of us would love to believe, is not stupid. They’re pragmatic, and by pragmatic I mean completely Machiavellian. They know these things for sure: 1) the impeachment of the president will not result in him being out of office before the next presidential election, and 2) their field of candidates is lackluster at best, making their hopes of winning the White House in 2020 precarious at best.

But they are using the hearings to fundraise and wreak havoc on House elections where they think they have a chance of picking off candidates with their cancel culture tactics. And consider this: these tactics are soon to come to a Senate race near you, and they will be used to attack vulnerable senators just like they are being used in the House and just like they were used in the Senate when the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings were front and center. They have to keep the outrage going. Outrage fuels the machine. Unless they make folks believe they are hated, despised, in danger of losing their rights and even their life (to climate change) their arguments start to fall apart.

So get ready, cancel culture part two is coming to the U.S. Senate, and it will only get worse. Here’s why:

There are 35 senate seats up for grabs in 2020.  Of those not up for grabs, Republicans will hold 30 and the Democrats (with Independents) will hold 35. The Democrats need 16 seats this next election to gain control of the Senate. And they’re going to face cancel-culture fallout from the impeachment trial to try to get them.

Here’s what we know for sure about those contested races:

• Ten are most likely staying Democrat no matter what (NH, MA, RI, NJ, DE, IL, OK, NM, OR, MN and VA)

• One, Michigan, is probably going Democrat, but challenger John James is making some noise again).

• At least four seats are up for grabs (AZ, CO, NC and ME) and two more (IA and AL) could be.

The Democrats need to get all 11 that are leaning their way, and they need to pick up 4 contested seats plus another upset in IA. 

That means that the Democrats in the Senate, the media and Democratic PACs and Twitter celebs Alyssa Milano, et al. will be completely relentless on Senators Susan Collins (ME), Cory Gardner (CO), Martha McSally (AZ), and Thom Tillis (NC). Also, don’t forget that the Democrats just won the Governorship of Kentucky and will get to have Mitch McConnell, who will be on the ballot, as public enemy number one in their fundraising efforts. That especially goes for Collis, unless, she votes to convict President Trump, in which case it would be lose-lose for her, because she could still lose her Senate seat. Clinton only won Maine by about 20,000 votes and there could be lots of Republican voters refusing to even vote in the Senate race or voting third party if she “defects” and votes to convict.

How this all plays out if  and when the House passes at least one article of impeachment. The Senate trial will be an absolute circus with the Democrats (and the press) attacking McConnell and vulnerable senators as much as they do the president. Watch them follow Senator Collins through the Senate offices to get viral videos that can be circulated online for fundraising efforts and to try to take control of the Senate.

And honestly, maybe this farce of a trial is their last best hope to defeat Trump in 2020. Motivating Democrats to vote to keep their senator in office in places like Michigan, Oklahoma and Minnesota, even if they’re not that excited about voting for the presidential candidate, may be just enough to turn a few of those states blue.

All we really know at this point is that it’s about to get really ugly in the Senate and the senate races, and the Democrats aren’t going down without an unfair fight.

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