Political strategies

The FBI raid forced Republicans and Democrats to change their medium-term strategies

After a short delay due to Democrats passing the Cut Inflation Act, Washington has now entered its August recess, the traditional opening for members to return to their home districts. . In mid-term years like this, that means they’re also about to start campaigning in earnest.

Both parties are desperate to talk about the Democrats’ landmark climate and health care bill, which they passed after more than a year of intra-party disputes. Republicans want to repeat the (frequently demystified) claim the law will lead to 87,000 new Internal Revenue Service officers, hoping to quell any excitement over the bill. A year after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban and 13 US service members died in a Kabul airport bombing, they want people to understand that Joe Biden is a political leader failing foreign as well as a failing national leader overseeing soaring prices at home.

Conversely, Democrats want to highlight not just this legislation, but a plethora of other breakthroughs: the CHIPS Act and science, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the bipartisan gun bill and the PACT Act, which provides health benefits to veterans exposed to toxic combustion fireplaces. . Promoting their record on its merits is key to convincing voters that they deserve to hold both houses of Congress and that Republicans – who incidentally did not install the current Supreme Court that overthrew Roe vs. Wade – power cannot be trusted.

But thanks to the FBI’s search for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, those battle lines were redrawn in just a week.

That’s especially true for the GOP, whose ardent Trumpists reacted to the raid with searing rage — much to the dismay of some of their less zealous colleagues. As Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, a conservative who has criticized his party’s right wing despite being rather right wing himself, Told Axios’ newsletter friend Andrew Solender: “I’m impressed that the Democrats finally got us to say, ‘Defund the FBI.’

But it was not the Democrats who made the Republicans say that. A case in point: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who tweeted that exact phrase out of her own volition after the search warrant on Mar-a-Lago was executed. On Friday, she announced she had filed articles of impeachment against Attorney General Merrick Garland.

These items will not pass the House under Democratic control. But Greene’s words have now set a litmus test for Republicans across the country, who will now likely have to answer whether or not they believe the nation’s top law enforcement official is a criminal.

It’s no different than the situation Democrats found themselves in in the summer of 2020, when they had to answer questions about whether they agreed with radical protesters calling for the defunding of police services after the murder of George Floyd. The “defund” mantra has persisted mostly among unelected officials and a handful of politicians — Biden is actually proposing to boost police funding. But it ultimately damaged many Democrats in swing districts, and it could likely hurt Republicans if the more conservative voices persist.

Trump’s support among Republicans surged after FBI research, with 3 in 5 Republicans saying they would vote for him in a 2024 primary, according to a Politico/Morning Consult investigation. Yet at the same time, that same poll showed 49% of voters believed the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago because of evidence that Trump had committed a crime – and only 39% believed the search was a attempt to undermine his policy. career.

And that creates a problem: Republicans need to show their unwavering support for Trump to motivate their supporters to go to the polls in November. But if they are seen as apologists for his actions, they risk alienating district and state voters who will decide whether they take over both the House and the Senate.