When Alabama Republicans made the epic mistake of nominating a surreally-flawed crackpot for US Senate last year, a man named Doug Jones was the beneficiary of that self-inflicted wound. Jones, a Democrat, narrowly won the election to replace Jeff Sessions in one of America's reddest states. After his improbable victory, political observers began to speculate whether Jones would let his liberal flag fly and vote as if he's on borrowed time -- or whether he'd try to cultivate a record that he could conceivably defend in a 2020 re-election push. Early on, the signals have been mixed. He's sided with GOP leadership on a few votes, but also signed on to his party's radical filibuster, killing a popular reform to limit elective abortions in the sixth month of pregnancy and beyond. Jones is, after all, an extremist on that issue, which is likely one of the main reasons a cretin like Roy Moore even kept things close.
Another major litmus test is guns. Is Jones willing to follow in the footsteps of "moderate" Democrats like Virginia's Mark Warner, who's recently flip-flopped on a so-called "assault weapons" ban -- shifting to the left as his state grows bluer, thanks to the expansion of the DC Metro area? Based on his comments on ABC's This Week on Sunday, it sounds like Jones may be interested in keeping his job for longer than the duration of his current placeholder term -- via the Free Beacon:
Note the qualifiers: He's "not sure" he can go that far "just yet." Gun bans aren't viable "right now." That doesn't sound like someone who's committed to opposing gun bans on principle, does it? It sounds like a liberal politician from a deeply conservative place who (a) doesn't want to end his re-election bid before it begins, but (b) also doesn't want to upset large elements of his party's left-wing base, which rallied around him and pumped money into his special election campaign. Maybe this is the smart play, but I have my doubts. By signaling that he's a gun control incrementalist, Jones will anger the hardcore anti-gun forces (who've been screaming that 'let's focus on what's possible' is a pro-child-death cop-out, or whatever), while also tipping his hand to pro-gun Alabama voters that if and when he decides the political moment is right, he's not ruling out supporting dramatic restrictions. In other words, he's saying "no, but maybe later," which isn't likely to please almost anyone. For what it's worth, there is no strong evidence that Congress' decade-long "assault weapons" ban implemented in the mid-1990's prevented crime or saved lives. America's downward trend on gun crime endured long after the ban expired, and continued even as the number of guns sold in the country exploded.
While we're on the subject of Democratic fault lines, here's controversial DNC deputy chair Keith Ellison dodging questions about whether the party is interested in Hillary Clinton campaigning for Democrats this fall, and whether a Democratic Congress would seek to repeal the GOP tax law's middle class tax cuts:
MSNBC's Steve Kornacki repeatedly attempted to get Ellison to answer if Democrats, who widely stood in staunch opposition to Republican-led tax reform passed at the end of 2017, would want to repeal the middle-class tax cuts. Ellison, however, continued to dodge and instead discuss repealing tax cuts for higher-income families and companies. "Is the Democratic message to those working folks that ‘you can keep the tax cut that you got from Donald Trump' or is the message ‘repeal the tax cut?'" Kornacki asked. "I think the message for the richest folks who got the tax cut, and the biggest companies, needs to be ‘repeal them,'" Ellison said. "I have no idea why corporate tax rate needs to drop from 35 percent to 20," Ellison said. Kornacki went on to ask about middle-class taxes at least three more times while Ellison routinely glanced off camera and continued to talk about taxes for corporations and wealthy Americans.
Ellison didn't want to answer the question for two reasons: First, 'The Resistance' wants to hear "full repeal." Opening up the door to keeping large pieces of the Trump-Ryan tax reform intact isn't very resist-y. Second, if Ellison concedes that yes, Democrats are committed to keeping the GOP's middle class tax cuts, he's admitting that...those tax cuts exist. The Left's anti-reform messaging claimed that the law would screw over or launch a "massive attack" against the middle class. In fact, 91 percent of middle class families are seeing their tax burdens reduced as a result of the increasingly popular law. Ellison uncomfortable evasions were an instance of reality clashing with obsolete rhetoric. Finally, to help Ellison with his puzzlement over the corporate tax reduction, that number was slashed significantly because America's previous statutory and effective corporate rates were among the very highest in the industrialized world, putting our companies at a competitive disadvantage. That has now been corrected, bringing the US into the mainstream on these metrics. Can the Democrats explain if and why they're upset with the economic effects of Republicans' deregulation and tax reform -- all of which they've opposed?