The following was included in an email edition I receive of the NY Times “The Morning.” The reporter, Claire Moses, was interviewing Astead Herndon, a political reporter who has been covering this election cycle. Following are (a portion of) his comments in response to Claire’s questions.
I live in Europe, where many people are only now starting to tune into the midterms. How would you explain to them, and others who need a refresher, why this election matters?
If the Republicans take back the House, it would change the scope of U.S. policy. We know they’d try to stop President Biden’s agenda. A Republican House would hurt Biden’s ability to respond to domestic challenges on his terms, like inflation, and to global crises — Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House leader, has signaled that Republicans might stop approving aid for Ukraine.
We’ve also seen a global rise in fears of democratic collapse. If the U.S. elects lawmakers who spread conspiracy theories about elections and who promise to tear down tenets of democracy, that will embolden autocratic leaders in other countries and weaken the United States’ standing in the world.
These midterms also matter because they could signal the start of an even more divisive era of politics. We should not assume we are at the floor of division — we’re going to get lower.
When you say Republicans would try to block Biden, what could that look like?
If Republicans take over Congress, some members will push their new House speaker to start impeachment proceedings of the president and members of his cabinet like Merrick Garland, the attorney general. Some Republicans have been ready to impeach Biden since he took office. Their complaints are about policy and politics, not accusations of the kinds of abuses of power that have historically been grounds for impeachment. McCarthy has tried to minimize talk of impeachment lately, seeing it as polarizing, but the hard right rank-and-file will almost certainly press for it.
You’ve been covering politics for years. What do you think we should be paying more attention to?
Democrats are asking their base to rally behind the idea of protecting democracy — that’s what Biden has said. But that base is mostly working-class Americans and people of color. And many of those people feel like the system has not provided tangible and meaningful change on issues that most affect their day-to-day life — like housing, wages or public safety. (Emphasis mine.)
A woman on last week’s episode of “The Run-Up” told us that democracy has never worked for her. She’s borne the brunt of poverty. Her top issue was housing. That’s not what the Democratic Party is talking about. While Biden and Democrats did pass funding related to housing, that money was drastically cut from the levels that most people who focus on the issue say was necessary to effect lasting change.
And one of his closing remarks pretty much zeros in on what’s happening today:
I also think that the media has done too little to explain Republicans’ built-in advantages. Their control of legislatures in some battleground states is backed by gerrymandering.
Of course, many of us who stay abreast of the current political climate are already aware of all of this. However, for those who tend to pay little attention to “politics,” hopefully they will read this and see why this election is so VERY, VERY important!