Hi it’s Kartik, I’m taking over the Express Lane column today to discuss foreign affairs a bit and the importance of understanding what is at stake in November. I want to thank my colleagues especially Joe Dye for such a great job with this column – normal service will resume tomorrow!
Despite a summer bump for Democratic candidates, Election 2022 from my vantage point is looking much more like 1994 or 2010, than the virtual pushes 2016 and 2020 were, as we enter the home stretch. Hopes that the Democrats could hold the Senate are fading (Yes many will disagree with this, we can compare scorecards in three weeks, though things can change and hopefully will) and the House is effectively gone. But how far gone? The difference between a 225-seat GOP caucus and a 240-seat one may determine the future of the western world and whether we continue to hold the line against autocratic fascism and its spread.
Kevin McCarthy’s comments on funding for Ukraine earlier this week were alarming to say the least. This confirms what has been a dirty little secret in political circles for months – the successful prosecution of the war against Russian aggression (which is a war to protect liberal democracy and the values we hold dear) is in jeopardy if the GOP gains control of Congress. That’s reality. It isn’t speculation any longer, as the GOP base has repeatedly shown either an affection for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, or a disdain for Ukraine and US support of that nation’s fight for survival.
With this in mind it is critical Annette Taddeo wins her FL-27 race against Maria Elvira Salazar, who to this point has supported aid for Ukraine, but seems very much the type that would flip on the issue as many of her GOP House colleagues already have in the months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine took place.
Simply put the GOP is more and more pro-Putin with every passing day. I see it on social media, and experience it in my own professional life – GOPers are increasingly hostile to US funding of the Ukrainian defense effort and deep down have some sympathy for Russian aggression and the spread of autocratic illiberalism.
That brings us to Florida, where the Florida Democratic Party was smart in trying to remind journalists twice this week via press statements of Governor Ron DeSantis‘ unwillingness to divest from Russia while defending Elon Musk‘s recent behavior and criticizing Ukrainian officials publicly. It’s a real pity we haven’t seen lots of newspaper ink spent on this and that the national media hasn’t amplified this messaging. The party can only do so much, it’s left to the rest of us to carry this message forward.
Meanwhile, another UK Prime Minister has fallen – this time Liz Truss, a noted lightweight who was way over her head as Foreign Secretary and proved arguably the most inept leader of major western democracy in our lifetimes. Her tenure- only 44 days, probably would have been shorter if the first two weeks weren’t spent honoring the fallen Queen Elizabeth II. Her Premiership however, will not be a footnote in history but rather viewed as a lamentable period where mourning the loss of the Queen turned into genuine panic over the mismanagement of the nation.
The ruling Conservative Party is a mess, rife with infighting and two distinct, largely contrary ideological camps that do not belong in the same political apparatus. To keep the Tories together, Truss tried to thread a needle offering a budget that was all things, to all people. I’m sure our readers know how that turned out, and how markets reacted, so we don’t need to rehash things other than to say that calamity led directly to an economic downturn that is also impacting the US.
This most recent economic downturn is not helping Democrats. So I wish there was a way the Democrats could explain that. This is completely out of Joe Biden’s hands, even more so that other economic factors are typically.
Anyway, the war in Ukraine needs to be front-and-center the last 19 days before the election. A GOP victory would be bad for the west, period. But alas, I doubt voters will think that deeply about foreign affairs.