September 8, 2022

Every couple years we are privy to a natural political phenomenon. It’s a cross between the swallows’ return to Capistrano and Rip van Winkle’s awakening in the Catskills after a 20-year snooze royal. Simply put, it is a predictable and regularly-scheduled wake-up call the Republicans sound out to their constituents — a kind of a national ‘Republican Reveille’ designed to jolt the sleepy Rs from their dreams of victory and get them to focus on voting.

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Republican Reveille is generally preceded by months of cheery good news messages about how many congressional seats the party is going to win back in the upcoming election while in presidential election years how they’re going to take back the White House.

This cycle, the Republican campaign machine, the RNC, is headed up by Ms. Ronna (Romney) McDaniel, the granddaughter of former Michigan Governor George Romney and niece to Utah Senator Willard (Mitt) Romney. The 49-year-old McDaniel takes her job very seriously and is in an entirely different league from her predecessor twice removed, Michael Steele, who held the job from 2009-2011 before his party discovered his true political leanings and replaced him with a professional political analyst, Reince Priebus.

McDaniel is not the sole bugler on the parade field ministering to Republican somnambulists. She is joined by every imaginable Republican advocacy group and political PAC that can raise a nickel in support of real conservative candidates. The Republicans’ war chest is growing and reflects the intensity of the party faithful’s confidence in winning back control of the House and Senate in two months and the White House in two years. McDaniel is playing down the White House’ and the media’s attempts to show real ideological differences in Republican Party members — the presumed tug of war between the forever-Trumpers (or extreme MAGAns as Joe B. likes to call them) and ‘mainstream’ Republicans. This tactic is a well-worn one and nothing new to political watchers; it’s always easier to try to divide the opposition than to shore up your own base, especially these days when your party is being led by a denizen of the DC swamp like Joe Biden, a man who has no qualms about demonizing half the country as extremists.

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In fact, McDaniel and company might want to consider sending out a video clip of Joe’s MAGAns as the extremist enemy of the Republic speech to every Republican-owned cellphone to drive home their point that this is Republicans’ year. The caveat would be, “if only you belay your optimism and get off your fat cat behinds and go VOTE!” That is the underlying message, of course, but Republicans are prone to believing good news when it comes to their party and their chances of snatching the brass ring from the Democrats. We, the political insomniacs, however, have seen this Greek tragedy before, usually while the rank and file of the party is fast asleep and busy counting elephants cavorting in the verdant field of victory. The second act of that play is when reveille sounds and shocks our hero or heroine to their senses and forces them to acknowledge the uncomfortable reality that they might actually lose their errant lover to another.

The RNC and its deep-pocketed supporters know their audience well and are determined not to let history repeat itself this time. By concentrating on moving the minority voting needle their way with intense efforts to capture more Hispanic and Black voters, they hope to counter the traditional success enjoyed by those world-class voter mobilization experts in the Democrat Party. 

Some on the right have described the upcoming election as the ‘perfect mid-term storm’ that could see upwards of fifty congressional seats change hands, but the graybeards of the party are more cautious. Their predictions are much more conservative and they point to several contributing factors why they are so hesitant to claim an early win. The first is, as mentioned, the Democrats’ ability to get their voters out. The second is the growth of anti-Trump sentiment (largely among the Democrats and the undecideds) spurred on by the January 6th hearings, the raid on Mar-a-Lago where dozens of classified documents were found and the current President’s ‘take no prisoners’ rhetoric on those “dangerous extremist ultra-MAGAns.” Thirdly, they point to an improvement in the American economy that continues to add more jobs even though most economists agree that we’re living on borrowed time as the recession digs in for the duration of what promises to be a long, cold (and depressing) winter.

Despite that, the Republican Reveille has sounded. And now that the Rs are awake, it’s time for them to strap on their body armor and their combat boots and steel themselves for their two-month full-pack march towards the finish line. Hoo Ahh.

Stephan Helgesen is a retired career U.S. diplomat who lived and worked in 30 countries for 25 years during the Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, and G.W. Bush Administrations. He is the author of twelve books, six of which are on American politics and has written over 1,200 articles on politics, economics and social trends. He operates a political news story aggregator website, www.projectpushback.com. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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