In the era of social media, "gratitude" has become an overused word that's often just a fig leaf for otherwise socially inappropriate bragging.
We've all seen it in our feeds: "I have the most amazing/attractive/intelligent wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/life-partner and am so totally in love with my fulfilling career/job/gig/work! #GRATITUDE!!" Gag me.
Still, as annoying and often cringe-inducing as "#gratitude" has become, I can find no other word to adequately express the feelings I have for the Republican Party right now.
Some context: the impending midterm elections were always going to be tough for the Democrats because a president's party typically loses congressional seats in his sixth year and the current Democratic coalition is particularly dependent on groups that are less likely to vote in midterms. Adding insult to injury, the president has managed to tick off almost all of the constituent groups that put him in office in the first place: Latinos with his delayed action on immigration; progressives with his decision to go to war against the Islamic State; women and youth with frustrations about the economy and security.
And yet, amazingly, the Democrats still have a fighting chance at keeping the Senate.
And while I'd love to be able to say that Democrats are still in the game -- albeit with an uphill battle -- because they're so overwhelmingly awesome, we all know that's painfully not true. Instead, Democrats are in a position to potentially eke out a victory because their opponents have often been politically incompetent, ideologically extreme or both.
The most obvious case is in deep red Kansas, where Gov. Sam Brownback has set out to create a high profile example of how conservative policies can generate prosperity. Unfortunately for the people of Kansas, his tenure has proven just the opposite, launching the state into financial calamity and economic chaos. Now a Democratic opponent is within striking distance of the governor's mansion and an Independent millionaire is in the poll position to take out Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.
Meanwhile in crimson Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor is polling within the margin of error against Republican Congressman Tom Cotton. Pryor is no liberal, but neither was Sen. Blanche Lincoln in 2010 -- and she still got reamed. What's the difference this time around? It's hard to say for sure, but it looks like it has to do with Cotton's vote against the Farm Bill that helps feed his state's economy. Funny how voters get annoyed about that kind of thing.
Finally, no analysis of Republican political ball-dropping is complete without noting their outreach efforts to women and minorities. All the training sessions they've had exploring how to reach these voters haven't apparently amounted to much: last week, the College Republicans released an ad about women choosing wedding dresses as stand-ins for candidates that feels like an SNL sketch except that it's not.
In short, in an election year where the odds favor Republicans and the Democratic coalition is demoralized and fraying, Republicans are giving us reason to hold out hope. It's enough to make a humble progressive like me feel downright #grateful.
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