Right message, wrong messenger
As the supposed beneficiary of the allegedly stolen election, Biden isn't the best positioned to debunk the Big Lie or frame the 2022 election around it.
Trumpism and the Big Lie is a fair issue for Democrats to make a centerpiece of the 2022 election.
Donald Trump attempted a coup, retaining power despite losing the presidential election. In Arizona and elsewhere, the vast majority of GOP officials and officeholders either were witting co-conspirators or turned their heads.
The primary election, completely in Arizona and mostly in the rest of the country, demonstrated that the Republican Party is the Party of Trump. Allegiance to the Big Lie was a prerequisite to being the GOP nominee for offices large and small.
This raises a legitimate question about the commitment of Republican candidates up and down the ballot to democratic norms. This is a fair issue for Democrats, and arguably an issue that supercedes all others.
President Joe Biden sought to frame the 2022 election in that way with his speech last week from Independence Hall.
There were the inevitable partisan excesses. In the speech, Biden conflated these questions about commitment to democratic norms with cultural issues such as abortion and gay marriage. You can be admanently pro-life and still be appalled at Trump's attempted coup and the broad support for it in the GOP.
This issue of commitment to democratic norms ideally wouldn't be linked to any other. In my view, it shouldn't even be linked to the debates between the parties about the tradeoffs between ballot security and ballot access. Support for improved ballot security is, in some quarters, partially driven by the Big Lie. But support for improved ballot security is not synonymous with it and can be supported by those who reject and condemn it.
It is understandable that Biden would want to be the one framing the election in this way. He is the titular head of the Democratic Party. And he's the one who soured the party's prospects in the mid-terms.
And there's probably something personal as well. After all, it is the legitimacy of his election that's being questioned.
Allowing for inevitable partisan excesses, Biden's speech was fine. In fact, excellent in parts.
But there was still something discordant about it. Biden would be the beneficiary, and presumed architect, of the mythical electoral theft.
Politically, the principal targets for Democrats of framing the election in term of commitment to democratic norms are independents and non-MAGA Republicans. However, while the MAGA Republicans have been divorced from reality, they shouldn't be given up on, or made out to be, broadly speaking, also enemies of democracy. There is some evidence that the Jan. 6th Committee has shaken, at least marginally, Trump's MAGA spell.
Out voting Trumpism is a good. Reducing the ranks of Trumpism is even better.
Fairly or not, Biden's not the guy best positioned to take on the greater good. Making it an election theme carried by Democrats actually on the ballot this election has greater potential for achieving bigger results.
Reach Robb at firstname.lastname@example.org.