Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Shifting the Overton Window As Republican Strategy

Politico ran a telling profile of a little-known Republican mega-donor by the name of Richad Uihlein.

Uihlein is supporting the campaign of Jeanne Ives, who is challenging Illinois governor Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary today. Via Politico, here's an encapsulation of the kind of campaign Ives is running:
"Democrats and many Republicans in Illinois were horrified by the ad: a 60-second spot released by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s GOP primary challenger, Jeanne Ives, featuring a parade of politically incorrect takes on thorny cultural issues. A deep-voiced man portraying a transgender woman tells Rauner, 'Thank you for signing legislation that lets me use the girls bathroom.' Then a young woman thanks Rauner for 'making all Illinois families pay for my abortions.'”
Ives is unlikely to beat Rauner in the Republican primary, as every poll I've seen has shown Rauner with a substantial lead. Plus, Ives is a woman. White men generally seem to fare better in elections when they assume the Trumpian personality traits of anti-establishment, unqualified, and bigot.

What struck me about the article, instead, was this description of Uihlein's motives (emphasis added):
“'Here is a passionate social and economic conservative who is willing to spend a large sum of money wherever he can in hopes of moving the needle, knowing he’s going to lose a lot of bets,' said an Illinois Republican with knowledge of Uihlein’s political giving. 'He’s not measuring himself by wins and losses — he’s measuring himself by moving the debate.'”
The aim here seems to be to shift the Overton window ever further to the right, which has been a concern of mine since the beginning of the Trump era.

As tempting as some might find it to laud less-overtly bigoted Republicans as "moderate," we must remember that the Republican Party as a whole has offered no meaningful resistance to the Trump Administration or his actions to dismantle our political system.

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