“It’s time to take this country back,” Senator Rick Scott proclaimed. “I’m here to tell you that the American people are going to give the Democrats a full kick this November!”
The religious conservative audience cheered and screamed. Nobody thought that the president of the National Republican Senatorial Committee was making an empty boast. In view of the mid-term elections, the party has opinion polls, economic concerns and history on its side.
Republicans exuded confidence this week at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference in Nashville, Tennessee, eager to regain power after a few punitive years that saw them barred from the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House.
Party officials, prominent supporters, senators, reps, and former President Donald Trump took the stage – set in a classic mock temple – in triumphant mood, denouncing Joe Biden for presiding over inflation and rising prices. gas, although they were more vague as to how they would get it fixed.
Addressing the faithful on Friday, Scott said, “Now, the Biden presidency has brought us something new. They understood how to combine radical left politics with absolute incompetence ”.
The Florida senator highlighted a 12-point plan to “save America” that appears to be designed to “trigger” the liberals and has also proved controversial in his own party. But it offers an overview of likely right-wing priorities for Republicans if they get a majority in the House and Senate.
Point one states, “Our kids will make the pledge of allegiance, salute the flag, learn that America is a great country, and choose the school that’s right for them.” Point Three: “The days when criminals have grown fond of spoiled criminal behavior will end. We will reimburse and respect the police because they, not the criminals, are the good guys ”.
Point Four: “We will secure our border, finish building the wall and name President Donald Trump.” Point Seven: “We will protect the integrity of American democracy and stop the left’s efforts to rig the elections.” Point nine: “Men are men, women are women, and unborn children are children.”
Scott had good reason to smell the opportunity. History shows that the party that controls the White House tends to lose seats due to vigorous opposition in the mid-term elections. Democrats face further malaise this November, with gas prices at $ 5 a gallon, a shortage of infant formula, and some business leaders predicting a recession.
Republicans are ready to pounce. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina told the conference: “Inflation is crushing American families and the White House tells us that inflation could be good for our economy. Excuse me? … Gas prices, inflation, economic instability. We need to be the part that saves our economy by looking back from 2016 to 2020 when we were in office. “
Scott predicted: “I believe we will win the House and bring it back to the right. I believe we will win the Senate and bring it back to the majority. I dream that with the House on our side and the Senate on our side and the White House on our side, we will show America what leadership looks like. “
Ronna McDaniel, chairman of the Republican National Committee, added: “I can’t think of an election in which economic issues will play as important a role as we know they will with gas prices and inflation. And our values and our cultural issues will also be in the ballot ”.
The gathering, held in a sprawling resort near the Grand Ole Opry House in the home of country music, also heard former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Senator Lindsey Graham, and members of Congress Dan Crenshaw and Jim Jordan. But former Vice President Mike Pence, a devout Christian, did not attend after arguing with Trump during the 2020 election and being booed at last year’s event.
Participants agreed that economic concerns are key. Tommy Crosslin, 54, songwriter, said, “Look at America right now. Inflation is high. Gas prices are high.
“It is difficult to find workers due to some situations we have been placed in. I don’t think most Americans wanted to shut down the Keystone pipeline and I think there has been a cascade effect since the start of the acquisition of President Biden. The American people will express their views in the medium term. “
Few believed that televised Congressional hearings of the Trump-inspired insurgency at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 would provide much counterweight. Joseph Padilla, 42, a retired Marine who works for a non-profit organization, said, “Every time we go shopping, every time we go for gas, we don’t think of January 6th. it occurs to us what administration is in this country right now. It will be a red wave “.
The conference also highlighted the important role religious conservatives still play in republican politics. The attack on the right to abortion was a popular applause, although an upcoming Supreme Court decision on Roe v Wade received little mention of what might have been expected.
Ralph Cannafounder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, told the Politico website: “In the Republican presidential nomination process, evangelical Christians today, in the Republican party, occupy a critical and central position similar to the role that African Americans play in the Democratic Party.”
Several speakers have wanted to quote the scriptures. Trump, who has made an unlikely alliance with evangelicals to win the presidency, told the audience: “This will be the largest participation in medium-term history, we think without a doubt, and there will be conservative Christians everywhere.”
The former president sparked one of the biggest applause of the day when he said: “Above all we know. In America we don’t worship the government, we worship God ”. Hearing the reaction, he joked, “I think this room loves God very much.”
The Senate is a close call in November, but opinion polls suggest the question isn’t whether Republicans get a majority in the House, but by how much. A gain of 35 seats would give the party the largest majority in more than 90 years. A gain of 18 seats would eclipse what he secured in 1995 when Newt Gingrich first became a speaker.
Such an achievement would allow Republicans to block Biden’s legislative agenda and aim to turn him into a lame president. They also promised to investigate everyone from Biden Hunter’s son to infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci. And the new hiring is likely to include numerous electoral deniers who support Trump’s “big lie”.
That perspective gave Trump’s loyalists at the Nashville event a renewed sense of bravado. Hogan Gidleya former White House official said, “The whiplash effect of all prosperity people felt just two years ago versus the effect of bad policies is what will drive people to the polls in mid-term.
“It’s the juxtaposition of success now with all the failures, and the swagger of the Biden administration saying, ‘Look, we’re doing everything the other way around, we’re doing everything Donald Trump didn’t, we’re changing everything.’ Well, the effects of these policies are important to the American people and are harming families in this country. “
Gidley, now director of the Center for Election Integrity at America’s First Policy Institute thinktank, added, “They can try to dump all the blame they want. These are not things that are happening to Joe Biden; are happening because of Joe Biden. That’s why I think a lot of people show up at events like this. They have never been so excited. They have never been so engaged. They have never been so willing to put their skin on the line. “
Critics say there is a certain irony in the Republican party capitalizing on economic woes to call itself the party of skills, noting that George W. Bush presided over the Great Recession and Trump left office with the worst market in the world. work in modern American history.
Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University in Washington, observed, “Republicans have no answers to the economy or inflation, it’s just oh, if we vote Republican, that will fix everything. It’s ridiculous. But if you lose your democracy, you won’t get it back. This is infinitely more important than inflation that comes and goes. “