There’s a lot of Issues

I’ve been in DC about a week right now and I have to say the digital ads I get on social media are much different and more interesting than home. One that jumped out for me was an ad pushing me to pressure members of Congress to stop the Bureau of Land Management (Department of the Interior) to stop rounding up wild horses in the West. I didn’t know this is a problem. I don’t know which party took which position. I’m pretty sure I’m against this. I’m now much more interested than I was, and want to be educated on the matter.

The number of issues in our lives that government touches are so vast that you can’t count them. Your state and local government touches your every day life most directly. The federal government touches nearly every facet of your life, in a systemic way. While you hear about guns, taxes, abortion, civil and voting rights, the environment, and commerce most often, there are people and organizations that care deeply about issues outside of our normal debate. Every federal appropriations bill funding a department is a chance to impact their issue of choice, and they actively are trying to influence those in power every day.

Sane and functional political parties would spend their time talking about issues people care about. On a loose level, the parties do. Inflation, crime, abortion, and voting rights/defending democracy all show up fairly high on voters minds in every poll I’ve seen in 2022. You see a lot of ads touching on those issues. The truth is though that not all “major” issues are created equal. If an issue doesn’t touch a majority of the people’s daily lives, you probably can’t win on the issue alone. It’s simply reality, and it’s why sometimes parties can win an election with a number of unpopular positions- because they’re popular on the ones reaching the broadest coalitions. Voters might agree with you on more issues, but if they’re not important issues in their daily lives, it won’t impact their votes.

A majority of Americans in every internal poll I’ve seen this year, dislike Donald Trump. I’m not sure a majority will vote based on that dislike. A majority of Americans would like to see the first female President, but that didn’t elect Hillary Clinton. This leads me to my last quite important point that is out there- the “micro” electorate. There are voters like me who are quite interested in who Humane PAC endorses, or who their union endorses, or whatever their cause may be. One of the great successes of the modern day, pre-Trump GOP is that they had a very broad swath of single issue, or small group of issue voters that helped them win a majority of elections. Between taxes, guns, and abortion, they had a formidable locked in vote that put them in range of victory every election. I’m not sure that’s still true after Trump, or if it’s all just grievance now. The Democrats have never mastered this, largely aiming at issue popular with their activists and donor base and little to no one else, and that was true of the majority of their 2020 primary field (but not Biden). It will be interesting to see if this leads to sustained higher interest and turnouts, or the lack of precision with this electorate alienated them. Can either party get out of their own way and build a true majority? We will see.

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