John Zaring | The Rational Center: When We Vote, We WinJohn Zaring October 15, 2018 1 COMMENT
As Hurricane Michael ravaged the Florida panhandle this week, supporters of President Donald J. Trump – especially the poor, rural whites across the south who resonated with his “America First” message and voted for him in 2016 against their own self-interest – deserved some moral leadership from their president.
Instead of visiting the hurricane zone, Trump traveled to campaign rallies in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio and West Virginia, several states that he won big in 2016. There, the wild enthusiasm of his MAGA-hat-wearing fans looked more like a Marvel panel at ComicCon than a political rally. His supporters hung onto every word, anxiously awaiting their opportunity to chant “Lock her up!”
This week, he aimed that chant not at his favorite target Hillary Clinton, but at California’s own Sen. Diane Feinstein and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-San Francisco).
Democrats have always seen Trump as a faker, a poseur and a con man. Yet while most aggrieved older white male Republicans still love this guy, polling shows that more and more Republican women, especially college-educated suburban women, are moving away from Trump and his misogynistic, bigoted hatred. To them, kicking-out brown people and locking up their children in tent cities aren’t policies to embrace.
Kanye West’s erratic appearance in the Oval Office and Trump’s equivocation over Saudi Arabia’s torture and killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post reporter who was apparently chopped up into little pieces inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey and then spirited off to Riyadh in a box, were likely also unhelpful.
There are many toss-up Congressional districts held by Republicans – including Rep. Steve Knight here locally – where Trump’s off-the-cuff ranting and raving has liabilities. At this point, many Americans have seen enough to conclude that Trump is the least-decent person we’ve ever put into the White House. To my eye, he lacks rectitude and probity and is intellectually and psychologically unfit to serve as Commander in Chief. He’s also peevish as hell, his White House is in constant chaos and his spastic attacks on the First Amendment threaten our democracy. Still, unless something unexpected happens – don’t forget, the Mueller investigation still needs to play out – he’s president until 2020.
A course correction can come, however, on November 6.
Most polls predict that if enough typically midterm-averse Democrats actually turnout, a “blue wave” is possible and a “blue tide” is probable. The GOP appears poised to maintain control of the Senate – in fact, they could even pick up a seat or two – but the House is another story entirely.
One of Trump’s Republican enablers in Congress that could be washed away is Rep. Knight, who has voted with Trump some 98% of the time. The latest Cook Political Report now lists his race against Democratic challenger Katie Hill – the 31 year-old former head of the nonprofit People Assisting The Homeless (PATH) – as a tossup, and trending in the Democrat’s favor.
Hill, the daughter of a cop and a nurse, grew up in the district and is passionate about saving healthcare, ending economic inequality, enacting commonsense gun reform and establishing equal rights for all, regardless of who you love or what you look like. Hill also understands that Congress must be unafraid to put a check on a president with authoritarian tendencies.
Knight’s repeated votes to take away healthcare from his constituents – especially those with preexisting conditions – and his belief that Social Security is “a bad idea,” along with his support for Trump’s debt-loading tax cut (which actually increased taxes for 60 percent of Californians) and opposition to equal pay for equal work for women and minorities, make Knight vulnerable in this increasingly moderate “purple” district. Plus, unlike Steve Knight, Katie Hill will protect a woman’s right to choose.
A quick check of the various Facebook groups dedicated to our local races reveals that Republicans want Democrats to believe that the GOP’s success here remains inevitable, that it’s simply a waste of time to even try. But in reality, the number of registered Democrats in the 25th has outnumbered Republicans for several years now and with multiple voter registration drives underway until the Oct. 22 deadline that advantage will likely grow.
In other words, there’s no red wall surrounding Santa Clarita folks, so don’t be fooled into thinking that your anger is misplaced, your passion is a weakness and your time spent organizing is a waste.
Katie Hill can beat Steve Knight, 38th Assembly District candidate Christy Smith can beat Dante Acosta and the Democrats competing for three open seats on the Santa Clarita City Council – Diane Trautman, Brett Haddock and Logan Smith – have just as good a shot as their fourteen Republicans opponents.
In the 22 days left to November 6, do whatever you can to help these candidates because if Democrats vote, Democrats will win.
Then we can start to worry about 2020!
The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer’s opinion section does not represent the official opinions of Radio Free Santa Clarita, its board and its supporters.
John Zaring has lived with his family in the Santa Clarita Valley since 2000. He describes his politics as center-left, as in “the rational center,” and while initially a college Republican, has been a Democrat since 1992. The LA County Democratic Party named him the 37th Assembly District Democrat of the Year in 2010.