Let’s assume that winning congressional votes is something that peace advocates care a lot about, enough that they would do things now that would help us win congressional votes on peace issues in the future.
Why wouldn’t peace advocates compete in Republican congressional primaries?
In particular, why wouldn’t peace advocates compete in Republican primaries in places where there is no plausible story that they would be bothering outcomes for any other progressive interest by doing so? Many districts only elect Republicans, no matter what. So, if all Republicans are bad on issue X, then it’s baked into the cake that the people who live in such a district are going to have a representative who is bad on issue X, no matter what peace advocates do. So, if peace advocates manage to find a Republican in that district who is good on some peace issue, there’s no plausible story that they are harming outcomes for people who care about issue X by supporting a Republican in that district who is better than other Republicans on some peace issue.
If you look at votes on peace issues in Congress that we lost narrowly, they tend to look like this: We had almost all Democrats and a small chunk of Republicans. So there’s two stories you could tell about why we lost compared to winning. One story is given that we only had a small chunk of Republicans, almost all Democrats wasn’t good enough. We needed to run the table on Democrats.
But the other story you could tell is given that we were going to have some Democratic defections, that small chunk of Republicans was too small. We needed that small chunk of Republicans to be a little bit bigger.
Suppose that it were possible to grow that small chunk of Republicans sufficiently to win such peace votes by only playing in districts where there is no plausible story of electing a Democrat who is good on issue X.
Why wouldn’t peace advocates try to do that?
The Washington Post reports that even if every Republican representing a district that voted for Hillary Clinton for president were replaced by a Democrat, it would not be enough for Democrats to take the House. Even if every voter who voted for Clinton and then voted for a Republican candidate for Congress voted instead for a Democrat, it would still not be enough for Democrats to take the House. In order for Democrats to take the House, some Trump voters would have to vote for Democrats running for Congress.
This means that for those who wish to try to use Congress to reform US foreign policy for less war, helping Democrats retake the House will certainly not be a sufficient strategy. Because either Democratic leaders will continue to recruit the kinds of candidates they have recruited in the past, in which case Democrats will not take the House, or else they will recruit a more ideologically diverse group of candidates, in which case having a Democratic majority will not ensure having a less-war majority.
In this situation, why wouldn’t peace advocates contest in Republican primaries in congressional districts that Democrats have no chance of winning?
The stakes have never been higher (and our need for your support has never been greater).
For over two decades, Truthout’s journalists have worked tirelessly to give our readers the news they need to understand and take action in an increasingly complex world. At a time when we should be reaching even more people, big tech has suppressed independent news in their algorithms and drastically reduced our traffic. Less traffic this year has meant a sharp decline in donations.
The fact that you’re reading this message gives us hope for Truthout’s future and the future of democracy. As we cover the news of today and look to the near and distant future we need your help to keep our journalists writing.
Please do what you can today to help us keep working for the coming months and beyond.