How we’ve all been played: Kavanaugh was just one part of Trump’s negative campaign

With Brett Kavanaugh confirmed and sworn in as a new Supreme Court Justice, Bernie Sanders must be rolling his eyes right about now. He knows that Trump is the master of the negative campaign, and that negative campaign is exactly how Kavanaugh prevailed. I have two other drafts of negative articles about Kavanaugh that I won’t publish since I woke up.

Do any Democrats even understand that if you go negative, anytime, anywhere, Trump will win? Can anyone see that Trump just loves this? Has anyone noticed that Bernie Sanders has won all his elections by not going negative? How did he win? I saw him run for president. He talked about the alternatives he has to offer to the other guy and he didn’t talk much about the other guy. He’s still a Senator for Vermont.

See how the Republicans are flapping their lips hard to shame the Democrats for their loss? Their words are intended to punish the Democrats, to bring them into rage, so that Democrats are focused on Republicans rather than themselves. The last thing Republicans want Democrats to do is to run a campaign like Bernie Sanders.

I am reminded of the scene in one of the Star Wars movies (can’t remember which one — does it matter?), where Darth Sidious, aka, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, was torturing Luke Skywalker to drive him into rage, to bring him to the Dark Side. That is exactly what the Republicans are doing to liberals now. This is the Trump campaign in a nutshell. They not only expected negative publicity, they thrived on it. Who called Roger Stone?

Democrats have tried to paint Trump, McConnell and even Brett Kavanaugh as evil, to no avail. I saw the hearings, and I saw Lindsey Graham with his outburst, and he seems sincere in his rage. So we must assume that they are sincere in their actions and statements. They sincerely believe that they are doing the right thing, so they’re never, ever going to change. Even if we apply direct political pressure, they will only resist further.

Thus, when Democrats try to paint those on the other side as evil, they alienate Trump supporters. I’d say it’s pretty hard to get votes when you alienate voters. Democrats look silly to Trump supporters, especially after a bitter loss. It is not just in the interest of Republicans to get Democrats and liberals to focus on the negative, the loss, the evil, the cuts to spending, the tax cuts for the rich. That is the goal. Once liberals are focused on the Republicans, and they are talking about the Republicans, even bad publicity is good.

Again, Trump is the master of the negative campaign. So while Democrats seem to see some value in working to impeach Brett Kavanaugh, the most recent confirmed judge to the Supreme Court, I think that there is a better plan.

Rather than campaign to undo what damage Trump and his sidekick, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have already done to the country, Democrats should be focused on the good they can do for the country by talking about the good they can do for the country and then let the Republicans explain why they shouldn’t go along with a better plan from Democrats. Anything else is identity politics.

Kavanaugh was not picked for fitness for office, he was picked for the fight he’d spark, and it worked. If Democrats shift the focus to the good they can do for the country, that takes the wind out of the sails for Trump and his allies. If Democrats talk about alternatives they have to offer, the good they have to offer, then they waste no time attacking Republicans, and Republicans have no reason to attack back. Then it’s just a matter of letting Republicans explain why their plans are any good, and they have nothing.

See, Republicans are banking on “Hey look at that! We got two partisan and conservative judges confirmed to the Supreme Court”, but they have nothing else to show for their efforts. They got big fat tax cuts for their wealthy vassals and nearly zip for the middle class with a sunset clause. The trade deficit is getting bigger despite a campaign promise to cut it. The federal deficit is growing, but they won’t tell you that all of that largess is going to their friends in New York high rise buildings. They’re cutting social welfare programs while promoting crony capitalism. Can anyone name a law passed by the Republicans that actually does any good for everyone in the country? I didn’t think so. And if Democrats go negative on all that, they’re going to lose. Again.

Democrats cannot afford to run on a campaign promise to impeach Kavanaugh. They could still work to impeach Kavanaugh, but as a once famous admiral said, “loose lips lose ships”.

So what could Democrats talk up? How about proportional representation? It’s in use by just about every other industrialized nation, and with that we can ditch the entire problem of gerrymadering. We know both sides do it, and we know that the current majoritarian system leads to two-party rule. And we know that Americans are sick and tired of it. We’re ready for a change, right? Hint: Republicans tend to lose seats with third parties in play.

Democrats could also talk about taking big money out of politics. Here’s some math for you: big money in politics = an exchange of rights protected by The Constitution for privilege. Guess who has the money? The privileged ones, and they’re members of a new aristocracy. There’s already model legislation from Professor Larry Lessig at ready to use and it has real anti-corruption language and big teeth to nail anyone who receives a golfing trip in Scotland in exchange for a timely and well placed vote. And Lessig has a ton of videos on YouTube that Democrats could use to explain this concept to those less informed.

Democrats could also talk about tuition free public education. The best estimates say that everyone that wanted to go to college could have it for about $70 billion a year. That is about 1/10th the entire defense budget, yet it would pay massive dividends across the country. Democrats could talk about tuition free education like it is the soil plants need to grow. Without education, our employers will have to go elsewhere for talent and skills now, won’t they? Just think “H1-B”.

And then there is net neutrality. Instead of attacking Verizon’s lap dog, Ajit Pai, Democrats could talk up funding for public broadband options. Chris Mitchell at has tons of empirical evidence to show that public networks actually work to bring costs down and make internet access affordable for everyone. I know, I use a public network called Utopia and it’s fantastic. Mitchell also has plenty of videos and podcasts to explain it to the masses (and provide a cluestick for some politicians). With public broadband options in competition with private shareholder driven internet access providers, net neutrality is moot.

If Democrats really want to win, all they have to do is deprive Donald Trump and the Republicans of attention and talk up their own game. Remember, Trump and his allies just love attention. Setting Trump aside will let Democrats spend a lot more time talking up their programs and proposals and leave the Republicans to try to explain how their crony capitalism is so great. I think the problem is really that simple to solve. And there is one other thing that Democrats might try to do: drop the Republican-lite act and get progressive. Then voters might actually be able to distinguish between the two parties that claim to represent all Americans.

Democrats, don’t feed the bears. Don’t insult them. Don’t give them a reason to rile up their base. Speak not a word about your opponent for that is free publicity, and they thrive on negative publicity. Just promote yourself and your proposals, excite your base with what you can do and see what happens next.

Write on.

Originally published at on October 7, 2018.

Husband, father, worker, philosopher, and observer. Plumbing the depths of consciousness to find the spring of happiness. Write on.