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Reviews | Inflation could put Holocaust deniers in control of our democracy

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Elections are decided by the issues that are on the minds of voters, not the issues that many of us wish were on the minds of voters.

This lesson was forcefully highlighted by the juxtaposition of the Federal Reserve’s sharp rate hike on Wednesday with the victory of the “big lie” Trumpist candidates in the primaries the day before – and the work of the House committee investigating the problem. uprising of January 6, 2021.

The Fed’s decision to raise interest rates by three-quarters of a point – the biggest increase since 1994 – put the economy in the middle of the news cycle while underscoring how little control President Biden has. on what happens to the costs by November.

Sebastian Mallaby: With Powell’s interest rate hike, the fight against inflation begins in earnest

Meanwhile, the House committee investigating Jan. 6 continued its effective work in drawing attention to how dangerous and egregious Donald Trump’s outsized efforts to nullify the 2020 election were. His hearings showed how close we are to a democratic collapse, how complicit many Republicans are — often by their silence — in Trump’s schemes, and how the threat to our democracy continues.

Analysis: Six takeaways from the January 6 panel’s prime-time hearing

Yet none of this could have mattered on election day.

If Republicans up and down the ballot win this fall because so many voters choose to punish Biden and Democrats for high prices, the GOP sweep would result in outright Holocaust deniers as well as politicians too shy or too opportunistic to challenge them. . As Amy Gardner and Isaac Arnsdorf reported in The Post, more than 100 GOP primary winners have backed Trump’s bogus voter fraud allegations.

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Tuesday’s primaries underscored Trump’s continued power to defeat decent Republicans and bully others into submission.

In South Carolina, Rep. Tom Rice, one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, won just a quarter of the vote and was reprimanded by a 2-to-1 margin. Rep. Nancy Mace, who was critical of the former president in early 2021, defeated a Trump-backed candidate with 53% of the vote. But she only survived by turning to sycophancy, portraying herself as a longtime Trump loyalist.

The most troubling result for friends of democracy came in Nevada, where GOP voters nominated Jim Marchant, an avid trumpeter of the former president’s election lies, as secretary of state. Marchant said he would not have certified Biden winning in the state.

Inflation, of course, has nothing to do with the Secretary of State’s job, but the direct-vote trend means a revolt against Democrats leading the poll could put the handling of the 2024 election between the hands of the same types. people whom the committee of January 6 denounces as dangerous frauds.

The potential for an economy-induced GOP landslide is high. As Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones and Lydia Saad reported this week, data from a May 2-22 survey found that only 41% of Americans approve of the work Biden is doing, 18% approve of the work Congress is doing. , 16% are satisfied with the way things are going in this country, and only 14% assess the current economic conditions positively.

“Voters tend to cast their ballots in the immediate term, especially mid-term,” said Jim Kessler, vice president of think tank Third Way. “Their long-term worries are on the back burner. And the inflation is immediate.

This underscores several imperatives not just for Democrats, but for anyone who wants to protect democracy.

Especially in state and local races that affect election administration — think secretary of state and gubernatorial positions, especially in swing states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan — voters in anger over gas and grocery prices must be persuaded not to let their rage translate into support for Republicans who would throw sand into the wheels of our democracy. Much will depend on the willingness of moderate independents and Republicans to prioritize free elections.

Ben Wikler, the chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, also sees the Trumpists’ obsession with the “big lie” as a potential opening for his party. “Republicans are so bound by the idea of ​​trying to challenge the 2020 election,” he told me, “that they leave a lot of room for Democrats to demonstrate that we are trying to reduce the costs to people while they are worried with locking down their power.

This underscores the need for Democrats, especially Biden, to try to cut their losses on inflation by arguing that their cost-cutting proposals are more credible than anything the Republicans are offering. It won’t be an easy sell, but Biden took a chance with a rousing speech at the AFL-CIO on Tuesday.

But there is no substitute for an attempt – however difficult – to make the preservation of democracy a much higher priority for voters. Their ballots will not reduce prices at the pump or what they pay for groceries. But they will determine the future of our experience of self-government.