“MAGA Republicans don't have a clue about the power of women. Let me tell you something—they are about to find out.” – Joseph Robinette Biden, President of the United States
Messaging isn’t simple. Whether you have a cause or a candidate or a product, saying the right thing, and saying it well, can be profoundly challenging. That’s why people who have expertise in media training and marketing and messaging tend to be able to command top dollar for their services. They aren’t always right, of course, but even if they come close, the words they help create and deliver can make the difference between success and failure for any endeavor.
One of the most recognized truisms of media training and messaging is that you cannot confuse your audience with too much information. It has become axiomatic in the profession that no more than three messages ought to be delivered, and the lead message is the most critical. Endless studies have shown that the audience members, listening to your speech or your presentation, will remember only one thing you say after you have departed. So, you tell ‘em, you tell ‘em what you told ‘em, and then you tell ‘em again.
This is where Democrats in Texas and the rest of the country find themselves. They have an abundance of messages on which to make their case to keep control of congress. But they must pick and choose and then focus because concentrating on too many issues will distract voters. The abomination that has morphed into the Trump Party from the GOP has left the political landscape scattered with the shreds of what used to be a representative democracy. But trying to tell that whole story will put the Democrats at a disadvantage, regardless of how compelling the full narrative might be.
What is to be said then? In truth, if nothing else were spoken of the entire campaign season this autumn, abortion ought to be enough to defeat Republicans. The same Trump party fools who refused vaccines with the chant of “my body, my choice,” are telling women they cannot legally make choices about their bodies. They are wrong as hell and ought to pay for it at the polls in November. The Texas abortion law that went into effect August 25th robs women of their physical autonomy and places it in the hands of people who may even be total strangers, and turns caring into a crime.
The measure bans abortions after six weeks, even in the cases of rape or incest, and anyone who helps a woman end a pregnancy after that time, is subject to a $10,000 fine and court costs. That can be a family member who offered counseling or a friend who drove her to the hospital or an Uber driver she summoned for a ride. A physician can face a $100,000 fine for performing the procedure and might even get a life sentence in prison. The pregnant woman is not charged, though her abortion is only legal if her life is threatened by delivering the baby.
On Thursday of the week past, when the law went into effect, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke released his first two political ads, which were focused dead center on a woman’s right to choose. The El Pasoan clearly knows the importance of the issue and its political power to move voters. One of the 30-second spots uses the voices of women to say they are no longer free and that some of them are going to die. The message and the facts are a kind of blunt force trauma to the sensibilities, and they work.
The second spot may be even more important. A mixed marriage couple, Democrat and Republican, have come together in agreement on the Texas law. The pickup driving conservative hubby, who has a Trump sticker on his tailgate, seems to be enlightened on this one matter. Freedom appears to be the hook here, which the polls in Kansas showed was language that stuck. The government is trying to hit everyone, but especially women, with more regulation. More government, bad. Less government, good. The old GOP’s mantra is being subtly used against them.
Bestselling novelist Don Winslow was equally punishing of the right in his video criticizing the Texas “heartbeat bill.” He produced a longer spot that characterized the law as a “War on Women,” which, of course, it is. Winslow and numerous others fighting the measure have called the $10,000 penalty a “bounty” on women dealing with problem pregnancies and they have suggested there is something wildly fascist about people being paid by the government to snitch on one another. Winslow’s video had more than 3 million views in less than twelve hours.
The War on Women is the issue for the Democrats to, not just maintain majority in the House and Senate, but to expand their political control. Republicans are running away from the topic. There are few, if any, who bring up abortion on the campaign trail. They know what is happening. In fact, at least one Trump Republican is lying about his support for abortion, which he used to win his party’s primary nomination in Arizona. Blake Masters, a GOP senate candidate endorsed by the twice-impeached former president, ran on his plan to get the federal government to adopt a “personhood law” for fetuses, which would give them full legal and human rights even before a heartbeat. Abortion would be labelled as murder.
Blake may not be that bright, but he is smart enough to sense what is unrolling from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunny shores of California. Women are mad as hell, and they are not going to take it anymore. Masters, according to NBC News, scrubbed his website from claims he is “100 percent anti-abortion” and wants to give full rights to a fetus, even an embryo. His website now insists, instead, he is in favor of "a law or a Constitutional amendment that bans late term (third trimester) abortion and partial-birth abortion at the federal level" and "pro-life legislation, pregnancy centers, and programs that make it easier for pregnant women to support a family and decide to choose life." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, late term abortions are “extremely rare.” Masters, though, had previously supported a law that made it a crime to perform any abortion after 20 weeks.
The anti-woman party is also looking over its shoulder at what happened in a congressional election this week in New York’s Hudson Valley. The special election to fill an unexpired seat was won by Democrat Pat Ryan, who ran almost singularly on the subject of abortion. Ryan made the case that choice was on the ballot in his bellwether district, and the voters ran to the polls motivated by his message. The region included in the district has reflected national sentiment in the past three presidential elections and voted for Obama, Trump, and Biden by narrow two percent margins, which is precisely the margin Ryan had over his Republican opponent, who talked about being a check on Democratic control of Washington and avoided abortion as an issue. Analysts suggested that during the last two midterm elections when a Democrat was in the White House, none of that party’s candidates would have had a chance in the Hudson Valley district.
But abortion was still legal during those elections.
Measuring the surge in females registering to vote is still underway but there are some early indicators regarding their impact on the November midterm. In the Kansas election earlier this summer, which protected that conservative state’s abortion rights, more than 70 percent of newly registered voters after the Supreme Court ruling were women. The ten states that presently have available voter registration data indicate that after the Dobbs decision banning abortion the total number of women registered to vote in those states jumped by 35 percent when it was compared to the month before there was a public leak on the justice’s ruling. Men went up by 9 percent. Registrations don’t always turn into votes, but it is a logical extrapolation to conclude they are increasing because of a motivation brought about by the court, and the subsequent rationale is that they will become likely voters for that same reason.
Pennsylvania may provide a reading of the radioactivity of the anti-abortion problem for Republicans. After the Dobbs ruling was made public, more than 40,000 people registered as new voters in that state over a two-month period; only 30,000 had signed up in a similar 60-day window prior to the announcement. During that time, women were about half of all new registrants, but that increased to 56 percent following Dobbs, and 60 percent during the first week after the announcement. According to data obtained by the New York Times, there had been no similar increase during the previous four years. Republicans might want to think of these people as likely voters, and not just registrants, but there is no turning back on the issue of abortion for Trump’s party.
The Democrats, every candidate at every level, have truly only one real job this fall and that is to hang this disgusting rollback of a woman’s rights around the neck of every Republican seeking public office. Theirs is the party that supported Donald Trump and made it possible for two extremely conservative justices to lie their way onto a seat on the Supreme Court, which led to the overturning of Roe versus Wade. The job now is to increase the number of Democrats, especially women, in congress, and codify choice into federal law to keep it out of the reach of judicial activists determined to legislate from their lofty benches.
If reducing the number of abortions was the real issue of concern for conservatives, there are numerous other approaches available. The simplest would be to require men to share accountability for problematic pregnancies. They could begin with child support. If a man is proved to be the father of a child, why not establish more stringent statutes, state or federal, which require him to pay child support, regardless of marital status? Further, make it a felony to fail to support a child you have fathered, even if that child was born outside of a marriage.
Any man responsible for a pregnancy who is delinquent in providing financial support for their offspring ought to be charged with a felony and face drastic fines and imprisonment for failure to live up to a basic moral responsibility. If the GOP can criminalize being pregnant, they damn sure ought to be able to punish men for their part in making those pregnancies happen. No man should have any right to spread his seed around like a forest creature and then walk away and leave a woman alone with a profound physical, emotional, and financial burden. Make that a law and watch how fast the number of abortions falls on the back side of the bell curve.
There is an abundance of evidence, regardless, that Republicans are not pro-life; they are simply pro-fetus. If you were a child born to a Texas mother who could not have had an abortion, you might end up with a troubled parent or two and need to find your way through their economic struggles and possible addictions. Your fate might find you acting out, breaking the law, maybe stealing food because there was none at home. You end up in a cell at a Texas youth prison, which is wildly understaffed, and you live in a tiny space with a toilet and a sink and a thin mattress on the floor and get out one hour a day. As is the case with half of the 600 teens that are imprisoned at one Texas facility, you might try to hurt yourself. The conservatives that protected you in the womb don’t have time, money, or interest to properly pay prison employees or counselors to help your future, and you will probably become sexually victimized. The GOP is spending our tax money on a border blunder to make our incompetent governor look tough. That’s their version of “pro-life.” There is no money for rehabilitation of the troubled young
There is also that same governor whose pro-life stand involves making guns available to anyone who wants one. No license or training required. The odds of another Uvalde are just as great today as they were on the day those 19 children and 2 teachers were mowed down at Robb Elementary. Greg Abbott has done nothing to reduce the risk. Hell, on the day of the slaughter, he praised the cops who stood around and did nothing and flew on a private plane to a fundraiser and hung out for three hours sucking up to wealthy donors, including the gun lobby. He said he was just stopping by to let people know he couldn’t stay because of the Uvalde tragedy. Instead, Abbott raised $50,000 and got $6900 more in-kind contributions of food, drink, and other accommodations. He lied, which is one of his finest political skills. Five of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history have occurred in Texas during Abbott’s administration.
The Democrats in Texas and across the country have a bounty of issues to slap the MAGATs with upside their heads. Gun violence, anti-abortion rulings, a party leader and former president who appears to have illegally retained top secret documents at his gaudy gold place of residence and has also tried to obstruct justice. Abortion, though, appears to offer the most energy to Democratic voters. Recent Texas polling shows 82 percent oppose the GOP's abortion law without exceptions for rape and incest, and that includes a whopping 78 percent of GOP voters. There is no longer likely to be a red wave, might even just be a pink tint to the election results.
Republicans are about to experience a “Roevember to Remember.”