Image provided by Susan Walsh/Associated Press. Top: Mitch McConnell speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill.
With war in Europe, a volatile economy, and an unpopular Democratic President, the Republican Party should have a great opportunity for success in November, especially with Independents. However, inconsistency within the party’s positions poses an obstacle to its popularity, especially amongst Independent voters. Seeing as the midterm elections are beginning to heat up, it is important to examine how the Republican Party’s actions may impact their success in November.
In recent years, the Republican Party has flipped its positions on key issues relating to both governing and the rule of law. An example of this was in the GOP’s push to appoint Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. When Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died before the 2016 election, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed that the Senate should wait so the new President could decide the SCOTUS nominee. He explained that by doing this, the Senate was allowing the people to decide. However, McConnell’s aims were much less noble, as he was simply attempting to block President Obama from appointing a left-leaning justice to the court. McConell’s flip-flopping occurred during the 2020 election season, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Instead of adhering to his belief that the people should decide the nominee, McConnell instead moved to have the Senate approve President Trump’s conservative nominee Barrett.
The change in message doesn’t stop at the GOP’s methods of governing; it also extends to its core values. Although the party acts as if it is the last institution protecting the rule of law, the Republican National Committee (the organization that represents the Republican Party) claimed the January 6th terrorist attack was “legitimate political discourse.” If the GOP wants to be the party of conservatism and “protecting constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms,” they cannot simply dismiss their supporters’ acts of violence in the heart of the United States. Inconsistency within the party’s message doesn’t stop at domestic stances, as the party has recently changed its position on critical foreign issues as well.
“One of the three most corrupt countries on the planet.” This is how top Republican House Representative Jim Jordan labeled Ukraine during a House hearing regarding former President Trump’s 2019 impeachment articles relating to his talks with President Zelensky about Hunter Biden. Until 2022, the Republican Party had an anti-Ukrainian sentiment, even through the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014 with the Russian annexation of Crimea. However, now that the world has come together in near full support for Ukraine, the Republican Party has begun to follow the pack. Party leaders have quickly shifted messaging on Ukraine, with leaders claiming the United States should come to the nation’s aid without any mention of previous concerns relating to corruption. The constant changes in the Republican Party’s messaging makes it difficult for voters to hold confidence in any campaign promises made by its candidates, reflected in recent poll data of Independent voters.
The Democratic Party is by no means perfect with its messaging, but both the actions and messaging of the Republican Party’s leadership threatens its standing with Independents in an election year when its path to victory should have been an easy one.
Independent voters will, as usual, be the make or break demographic for the Democratic and Republican parties in the November midterm elections. Even though Republicans have the aforementioned advantages of a volatile economy and an unpopular Democratic President, a January Marquette Law School poll found that Independent voters support Joe Biden and Donald Trump nearly equally and actually prefer Biden to potential Republican 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis.
The Republican Party used to stand for cultural conservatism and strict but fair preservation of the rule of law. The Democratic Party is by no means perfect with its messaging, but both the actions and messaging of the Republican Party’s leadership threatens its standing with Independents in an election year when its path to victory should have been an easy one.
Trinidad Hellman is a junior at Washington High School who was born in Fremont, California. This is his first year as a reporter for the Hatchet. He is interested in both domestic and international political issues as well as the economy. Trinidad is a varsity runner for Washington’s cross country and track team, president of Washington’s Martial Arts Club, head of outreach for the robotics non-profit “We Love Pi”, and the outreach officer for Washington’s Student’s for Change club. His hobbies include flying drones and building computers. Trinidad hopes to major in international relations and subsequently go to law school.