When a group of Islamic radicals terrorized the country on September 11, 2001, the resolve of Americans was mobilized, and the GOP doubled down on the hate. Despite the fact former President George W. Bush made it clear that Islam was not the culprit for the actions of a few desperate men, the Islamic-American community was forced into protection mode. The hysteria reached such a heated point that a proposed Islamic Center in New York was scrapped because some saw its location near ground zero as an affront. Businesses were defaced, and Muslims were beaten and threatened with death. Anyone, including Sikhs—who wear turbans, was under attack. Not only did the GOP double down on Islamophobia, but even the Anti-Defamation League—at the time— also chimed in, suggesting [it] “would be better if an alternative location was found….”
When the Clinton assault weapons ban sunsetted in 2004, not only did Republicans refuse to revisit the subject and vote to reinstitute a ban—which saw a rapid drop in mass shootings, they doubled down. In fairness, President Bush pledged to sign the bill’s extension if the House passed it. The then-House Majority leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) told Bush he did not have the votes. Since then, Republicans have not only doubled but tripled down, sowing fears that without a weapon, either the government, immigrants, or minorities will invade your defenseless homes, take your wife, children, or worse, your 83-inch flat screen tv.
Another example is the Affordable Care Act. Former President Obama used his political capital, risking backlash from the extremes of both parties and resistance from those who wanted him to use his political influence on immigration and minority rights. As time has passed, Mr. Obama’s health law has proven to be more popular by the year. The complaints from the left were that his healthcare bill did not go far enough. Meanwhile, the GOP took its usual posture of opposition based primarily on politics. The GOP opposition was full of lies and wild allegations about “death panels.”
One might ask why Republicans Double Down…
Republicans have continued their strategy of the political double-down because it works. George W. Bush was re-elected for fear of another terrorist attack, although he presided over 9/11. Republicans knew the way for Bush was to refocus his failures and double down on worry and fear. President Clinton’s first midterm became what is known as the “Republican Revolution.” The GOP gained unified control of Congress for the first time since 1952. Mr. Clinton’s assault weapons ban was among the reasons pointed out for the dramatic losses by Democrats. In 2010 Obama’s midterm losses were blamed on the Affordable Care Act or what became known as Obamacare.
We are now facing the 2022 midterm elections, and the GOP may have beaten the double-down horse to death. With the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision—effectively overturning Roe v. Wade, have they finally gone a speculum too far? In a rare fit of wisdom, former President Trump warned that the court should not wade into the baby pool until after the midterms. He privately told his advisers that overturning Roe is “bad for Republicans” as it could potentially impact some key voters such as suburban women, The New York Times reported. The Court that Mr. Trump packed failed to heed the warning, and so has the rest of the Republican party. Immediately they moved to institute trigger laws to criminalize women, doctors, and pharmacies. Their actions brought to light the horrific stories of rape, incest, and emotional pain that women suffer. Some are trying to reverse course, but will the double-down cost them this time?
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