The midterm elections are exactly one month from tomorrow, and as American voters start making their decisions, the parties’ closing messages are taking shape. In fact, leading Republicans have narrowed their focus to a handful of oft-repeated lines of attack.
The problem, of course, is the lines of attack are rooted in discredited nonsense.
This week, for example, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy argued via social media, “It’s been one year since Merrick Garland treated parents who attend school board meetings as ‘domestic terrorists.’ Since then, Democrats have refused to hold him accountable. Not even a single hearing on the issue. That changes once Republicans are in the majority next year.”
This is certainly a myth that many in the GOP have come to believe, but the idea that the attorney general treated innocent parents as “domestic terrorists,” simply because they attended school board meetings, is demonstrably ridiculous. In fact, a Trump-appointed federal judge recently heard a case from Virginia parents who filed suit to block Garland’s alleged policy, and he rejected the underlying claims as absurd.
A day later, McCarthy returned to Twitter to push a different lie. “Government should work for you — not against you,” the California Republican wrote. “And that’s why a Republican House majority will repeal the army of 87,000 IRS agents that Democrats enlisted to spy on your bank accounts.” The same line has become a staple of GOP advertising in key races nationwide.
But perhaps most interesting of all is an ad from the Republican Senate candidate in Georgia. CNN’s Daniel Dale noted this week:
“Herschel Walker has been running a TV ad in which he looks into the camera and falsely claims that Raphael Warnock cut funding to the police. This assertion is so imaginary that Walker’s campaign hasn’t even responded to requests to identify what he’s talking about.”
Quite right. In the ad, Walker insisted that the Democratic incumbent senator not only criticized the police, Warnock also “cut their funding.”
That’s not true. Warnock never did any such thing. When PolitiFact recently asked the Republican campaign to support the assertion, the GOP candidate and his team refused. When CNN asked Walker and the National Republican Senatorial Committee for any kind of evidence to substantiate the attack, they also wouldn’t respond.
The significance of this extends well beyond Georgia. When the Biden administration and congressional Democrats boosted funding for law enforcement, plenty of folks on the left were not pleased. The party did it anyway, at least in part with political inoculation in mind: It’s tough to attack Democrats for wanting to “defund the police” when the party supports spending more on the police.
That is, Democrats thought it’d be tough to attack them on this. What’s happened instead is that Republicans have ignored reality, made up claims that are the opposite of the truth, and shrugged their shoulders when asked to defend attacks that are plainly indefensible.
Of course, the one question that leading Republicans find especially difficult as the midterm elections approach involves the larger context: If the Democratic majority is failing, why isn’t the truth good enough?