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Inflation may have saved election deniers running for office in swing states

Peter Goodman


Tuesday feels critical for our nation.

In my childhood, elections were civilized affairs in which we decided whether Eisenhower or Stevenson, Kennedy or Nixon, or Truman or Dewey should lead us. There were some shared basic principles: democracy, respect, freedom, determination that our country survive and prosper, and confront external threats, yet try to extend a decent quality of life to everyone.

Despite mutterings about dead people voting in Chicago, Nixon did not conspire to overturn Kennedy’s victory, or pretend that, as vice-president, he could decline to certify the count. Jimmy Carter didn’t encourage mobs to break into the Capitol threatening to hang the vice-president and the Speaker. Had partisans done so, no politician would have had difficulty pronouncing such violence (or Carter’s encouragement) absolutely unacceptable.

This year we vote in a climate of violence: Arizona has armed patrols “observing” ballot depositories; a crazy guy threatening the Speaker of the House breaks into her home, cracks her 82-year-old husband’s skull with a hammer, and Donald Trump suggests “there’s something suspicious” about the victim(!) Here, Conservation Voters of New Mexico recently received a package with threats against a Democratic legislator, anti-Semitic symbols, and some chemical substance; and Trumpists are training “more active” poll-watchers. It’s not Belfast or Israel, but it’s not real healthy, either.

The partisan violence recalls that of the 1850s. We know where that led.

Meanwhile, after much angst and some primary battles, the Trump-influenced Republicans have nominated an exceptional collection of scurrilous halfwits. (I think so; and that’s a fair extrapolation of what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must think, to complain publicly about his party’s substandard candidates.) They all spout the “stolen election” nonsense. All genuflect to Trump. One even smiles while Trump says the candidate is kissing Trump’s ass. Herschel Walker, nominated solely for his long-ago football skills, is running on a “No abortions!” platform while women show receipts for abortions he urged and paid for. Mehmet Oz is a TV celebrity, like Kim Kardashian (or that guy in The Apprentice), with no more political experience or wisdom than she.

This bizarre collection is so unappealing that, even though the President’s party usually loses the mid-terms, and Biden has not been popular in the polls, it seemed likely voters might reject most of them. Inflation intervened.

Presidents have little control over inflation, and rarely deserve as much blame or credit as they get. Our inflation was recently at 8.2%, while inflation was higher in most European countries, from Italy’s 8.9% o 14.5% in the Netherlands. Moreover, despite common belief, inflation has historically been worse during Republican presidencies than Democratic ones.

The main factor in current high inflation is Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and the decision to oppose him. (Ironically, the fellow propping up the halfwits also has expressed great admiration for Putin.)

Seen clearly, the electoral battle is not merely between parties, but pits those who deeply want our country to maintain its democracy, and win elections through persuasion rather than violence or chicanery, against those for whom it’s more important to elect Donald Trump. (It’s more important that Michigan State upset Michigan than it is to keep the stadium from falling on us!) Will Republicans and other conservatives step up?

Friends say it’s just a cycle. But, after failing to overturn the 2020 election, Trumpists set in motion procedures in swing states to stack the deck in favor of such an effort in the future.