Memory is a strange thing. If you ask two people to describe the same event the odds are that the descriptions will be decidedly different. This is because our memories are influenced by the very specific variables that make us the unique individuals that we are. Eyewitnesses in a criminal trial often have their credibility attacked by pointing out that their memories are being influenced by their preconceived notions. Therefore, when a group of individuals miraculously has the same memory of an event, it is appropriately suspect. So it is when a large number of GOP candidates in the presidential sweepstakes have the same erroneous memories of the factors that lead to the US invasion of Iraq. They all blame it on faulty intelligence. However, history confirms that the intelligence was not faulty, but rather the decision-making.
What is also particularly interesting about the approach of the GOP candidates is the fact that they are making this an election that is focusing on international affairs, not domestic policy or the economy. Could it be that they realize that for all of their accusations to the contrary, the economy is growing, the Affordable Care Act is achieving its goals, and they are on the wrong side of history on issues such as marriage equality, gun control and immigration? Yet, the polls show that most people view the bread and butter issues as prime, with international affairs down on the list. It would seem that if the GOP candidates continue to move in this direction they will appear irrelevant. They will not be speaking to the issues of greatest concern to the electorate.
However, this might be a smarter strategy than it seems at first blush. If they recognize that, in fact, they are out of step with most Americans on issues such as marriage equality, pay equity, immigration and gun control why would they display that fact front and center? Why not move in a direction that is less controversial within their own ranks and focus their sights on their perceived failures of the Obama Administration and in particular ex-Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton. In this way they are not shooting themselves in the foot but they are targeting the presumed Presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. The talking points on Iraq are obviously not an accident. They are part of a clear policy to transfer the blame for the current disaster playing out in the Middle East to the Obama Administration and in particular Hillary Clinton. In this way they are attempting to make this an election focused on national security issues and away from Obama’s domestic successes.
Yet, try as they might the tide is rising and will ultimately down them if they continue to attempt to alter our memories. It is a fact that there are two groups of voters that are growing at a very rapid pace that won’t buy the GOP line. The Latino population is altering the equation all around the country and will punish a party that refuses to act with honesty and integrity on the immigration issue. Regardless of how the GOP tries to spin it, they have vocally and publicly blocked action in this area. Secondly, the millennials are quickly becoming an engaged and active group in the social issues of our day. In particular they are active in the areas of marriage equality and income equality. They will not support a party with an official position that opposes or blocks action on either of these issues.
It is no accident therefore that the GOP has been extremely active on the state level in areas such as voter suppression and the reduction of abortion availability. I have said for a long time that the GOP is running on two clearly visible tracks. First is to obstruct any meaningful legislative action on a national level. Second is to move as many laws through state legislatures that they can that conform to their conservative social agenda and restrict voting rights. The Democrats need to actively work to take control both nationally and locally or the conservative agenda will be enacted as we applaud our success in holding on to the White House. If that is all that we achieve in 2016, it will be an empty victory.