Burke: Ignore ‘horse race’ election coverage; stick to issues

Those issues, by making comparing records and policies, makes it easy to pick who deserves to win.

By Tom Burke / Herald columnist

Who’s ahead? Who’s behind? Who’s trending? Who’s not?

For me, most media “election coverage” is all wet — tracking campaigns as horse races, assuming all candidates have equally valid takes on reality (they don’t), and treating all candidate statements as valid — case in point: the Big Lie that Trump won and the election was rigged — instead of calling them out when they’re clearly false.

So how should elections be covered? Simple: focus on issues, records and platforms at all levels and then drill down to what a candidate says they’ll do for the country, state, district and voter. And ask tough, pertinent questions; report the answers; and don’t take B.S.-puffery-generality-filled-word-salad for a reply.

So for the midterms, let’s look at Biden’s and the Democrats’ record and contrast it against that of the Republicans. Later columns will examine local races and candidates.

So far this term, Biden and the Democrats have:

• Avoided a crippling railroad strike;

• Passed the Inflation Reduction Act;

• Started taxing corporations and billionaires who weren’t paying any taxes;

• Lowered health care costs for millions;

• Began allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time;

• Capped senior drug costs at $2,000 per year and insulin at $35 per vial;

• Passed historic clean energy investments to ameliorate climate change and boost U.S. manufacturing;

• Passed the PACT Act to provide help to vets exposed to burn pits;

• Passed the CHIPS and Sciecne Act to accelerate semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S.;

• Boosted U.S. manufacturing jobs;

• Passed the first federal legislation in 30 years to reduce gun violence;

• Took leadership revitalizing NATO and providing critical military and political assistance to the Ukraine to beat Putin’s invasion;

• Got us out of Afghanistan (if sloppily so);

• Killed al-Qaida’s Ayman al-Zawahiri, an architect of the Sept. 11 attack;

• Reauthorized and strengthened the Violence Against Women Act;

• Passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan;

• Got 500 million covid shots into people’s arms;

• Added 6.5 million jobs in U.S. in 2021, the greatest job growth of any president in U.S. history;

• Pushed unemployment is at 3.5 percent, an historic low;

• Passed the bi-partisan infrastructure bill;

• Signed the bill eliminating the statute of limitations for people who were sexually abused as minors to file civil claims;

• Strengthened the Affordable Care Act, adding millions to its roles;

• Appointed the first black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court;

• Raised federal contractor minimum wage to $15 per hour;

• Sanctioned Russia and her oligarchs;

• Rejoined the Paris climate accords;

• Forgave student loan debt up to $20,000 for Pell Grant students and $10,000 for others;

• Led the fix of supply chain crisis;

• Revoked Trump border family-separation order;

• Stopped renewal of federal contracts for private prisons;

• Reversed Trump ban on transgender Americans joining the military;

• Stopped Trump’s withdrawal from World Health Organization;

• Fortified DACA;

• Cut child poverty in half; and

• Stopped building Trump’s wall.

The Republicans: They opposed the vast majority of these measures; and when asked about their 2022 platform, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told voters to wait until after the election to find out what their legislative priorities would be.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who heads the Republican Senatorial Committee, added the GOP wants to end Social Security and Medicare and “turn everything into discretionary spending,” plus raise the retirement age to 70.

Now Trump isn’t on the ballot for 2022, but his acolytes and MAGA disciples are. And the price of winning the MAGA vote is absolute fidelity to the insanity of The Big Lie plus accepting Trump’s full-on embrace of QAnon lunacy, denying he stole 300 classified documents and 1,100 pages that should have been in the hands of the National Archives, endorsing his overt threats of violence, and refusing to say if they’d abide by the 2022 election results, win or lose. These are direct and credible threats against you and our democracy

OK, now let’s look at where the parties stand vis-à-vis some important future issues:

• Should women have a choice about their reproductive rights? Democrats, yes; Republicans, no.

• Should the right to contraception be assured? Democrats, yes; Republicans, no.

• Should interstate travel for reproductive care be protected? Democrats, yes; Republicans, no.

• Are the MAGA insurrectionists trying to subvert America’s democratic form of government “semi-fascists?” Democrats, yes; Republicans, no.

• Who supports the Electoral Count Act reform to insure no replay of 2021 attempted coup? Democrats, yes; Republicans, no.

• Should a national anti-abortion law be the law of the land? Democrats, no; Republicans, yes.

• Should states decide the legality of inter-racial marriages, Rather than U.S. law? Democrats, no; Republicans, yes.

• Should Americans support white Christian nationalism? Democrats, no; Republicans, yes.

• Is the Christian church supposed to direct government? Democrats, no; Republicans, yes.

I still think it’s too soon to call this election. There’s are days and days left and a lot can still happen. Three months ago it was lights out for the Democrats, according to the pundits. Now, it’s entering the toss-up phase. Trump, Valdimir Putin, abortion, inflation, immigration, outright rebellion if Trump is indicted are all still hanging in the air.

One thing to be sure: The Republican Party and its candidates are standing squarely behind what can only be described as vile, anti-democratic policies such as voter suppression, trafficking legal immigrants and refugees to Martha’s Vineyard or the Naval Observatory, home to Vice President Kamala Harris, and the Nazi-like QAnon salutes at Trump’s Ohio rally.

This November isn’t a horse race. It’s about preserving our democracy. So vote; Democratic.

Slava Ukraini.

Tom Burke’s email address is t.burke.column@gmail.com.

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