I am, of course, being sardonic, sarcastic, and other S words. Conor Lamb’s special election margin is 627 votes as I write this but a win is a win is a win. It’s a victory for coalition politics and a defeat for the president* and a feckless Speaker of the House who seems incapable of distancing his members from a wildly unpopular Trump. Paul Ryan is the most politically inept Speaker of my lifetime: the goal of any Speaker is to preserve their majority. Ryan is too afraid of the rabid right-wing base he’s pandered to all these years to even try to save his majority. Thanks, Paul.
This triumph will prove to be somewhat ephemeral since the crazy quilt Pennsylvania Gerrymander scheme was tossed out by the courts. Lamb will have to run in a differently configured district this fall but that somehow makes this victory even sweeter. Lamb beat a Republican in a district drawn to make it well-nigh impossible for a D to beat an R. It took an asshole president* to produce a 20 point swing. Thanks, Trumpy.
“The young man last night that ran, he said, ‘Oh, I’m like Trump. Second Amendment, everything. I love the tax cuts, everything.’ He ran on that basis,” Trump said at the fundraiser, according to an audio recording obtained by The Atlantic. “He ran on a campaign that said very nice things about me. I said, ‘Is he a Republican? He sounds like a Republican to me.’”
In fact, Lamb ran a classic lunch pail/kitchen table pro-union campaign. It’s the way Democrats have won elections in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since the New Deal. I don’t recall Trump being a fan of organized labor. Fake populism can only get you so far.
Here’s how former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau described Landslide Lamb’s campaign:
It takes a coalition to win any election that doesn’t take place in the purest truest bluest district. For the 50 state strategy to succeed, that requires supporting candidates who can win in a given district. That was the strategy Howard Dean used to help Democrats take back the House in 2006. You might recall that Dean ran as the most liberal candidate in the Democratic presidential race in 2004. He was still a believer in coalition politics, which is what made Nancy Smash Speaker and Harry Reid Senate Majority Leader.
The important thing is to win and negotiate our differences later: the future of the Republic may well depend on a blue wave this fall. A candidate who can win in Berkeley or Brooklyn cannot win in Western Pennsylvania or statewide in, say, Texas. A lot of “non-partisan progressives” on twitter have been unhappy with Beto O’Rourke because he’s insufficiently pure. Do they prefer Rafael Edward Cruz who the last time I checked was the wingnut’s wingnut?
The sitting president is *always* the issue in mid-term elections, especially since the South became a sea of red. The days when Tip O’Neill could hold his majority with a popular Republican president in office are long gone. Trump will be the main issue even when a candidate chooses to treat him like Voldemort and not speak his name aloud a la Landslide Lamb. It’s a losing issue for Republicans and a winner for Democrats and sanity. Believe me.
The last word goes to Genesis with my favorite song with the word lamb in it: