The Republican Party is setting its sights on Tim Kaine by going after him…from the left. The GOP moved quickly to put out several pieces on Kaine when he was rumored, then confirmed, as Hillary Clinton vice presidential pick including one sub-titled “A Career Spent Taking Cautious Positions Anathema To The Party’s Liberal Base.” Their top takeaways read like something from DailyKos, not from the GOP itself.
Kaine’s selection as Clinton’s vice presidential nominee will not achieve the sorely needed unification of the Democrat Party.
Kaine has castigated opponents of free trade agreements as “losers,” and strongly supported the war in Iraq.
Kaine supported the 1994 Clinton crime bill which Hillary Clinton partially blames for the “era of mass incarceration,” voiced strong opposition to gay marriage and casts himself as a “pro-life” politician who supports a ban on partial birth abortion.
On energy and taxes, Kaine supports offshore drilling and clean coal and signed the complete repeal of the Virginia’s estate tax.
Despite opposition from organized labor, Kaine supports Virginia’s Right to Work law.
The criticism doesn’t stop there, with the Republican Party castigating Kaine for being a fan of free trade and against taxes:
In 2007, Kaine Attacked Opponents Of NAFTA And CAFTA, Saying “This Is Something I Feel Really Passionate About.” “Without identifying him, Kaine cited the views of Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, who was quoted in the New York Times last year as saying of free-trade agreements: ‘I was a critic of NAFTA, I was a critic of CAFTA and I’ll be a critic of SHAFTA.’ ‘I always laugh when I hear that, but I really think that it’s wrong,’ Kaine said. ‘This is something I feel really passionate about.'” (Scott Lanman, “Virginia’s Kaine Warns Democrats Protectionism Is A ‘Loser,'” Bloomberg, 5/30/07)
In 2007, Kaine Signed An Estate Tax Repeal. “Rich and poor alike will benefit from changes in Virginia’s tax laws. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine symbolically signed into law yesterday a measure that will remove about 140,000 low-income people from the tax rolls by raising the filing threshold, beginning in the 2008 tax year. And, as of Sunday, the tax on larger estates in Virginia was repealed. The repeal legislation was passed by the General Assembly last year but did not take effect until July 1 this year.” (Tyler Whitley, “Kaine Signs Measure For Low-Income Tax Break,” Richmond Times Dispatch, 7/4/07)
The GOP’s second piece included comments from The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Slate’s Nora Caplan-Bricker, The Bernie Delegates Network, and Democracy For America which were all negative of the Kaine pick. It’s pretty obvious the Republican Party is trying to shift focus away from its own issue of disunity and put the spotlight on the fact the Democrats are just as fractured, if not more. Based on how the DNC Rules Committee went, the GOP may have a point. Via the Pro-Sanders website U.S. Uncut:
Bruce Jacobs, an attorney and Sanders delegate from Miami, Florida, told US Uncut that animosity between Sanders delegates and establishment Democrats was palpable after the superdelegate votes, and that this fight is just the beginning.
“We just kept going back up and going back up and going back up, and every vote was coming up with Bernie delegates as yes, and Hillary delegates as no, and it was like that every time,” Jacobs said. “Either Hillary Clinton is going to offer an olive branch and we’ll do something that everyone is going to vote for, or their answer is going to be ‘fall in line and be happy about it.’ And that’s not going to work for Bernie’s campaign.”
Sanders delegates were also apparently removed from the room, before being escorted out of the area entirely.
— People For Bernie (@People4Bernie) July 23, 2016
There are two questions which the GOP needs to ask. The first is whether or not they believe this outreach towards Sanders voters will get them anywhere. It’s pretty obvious they want the Sanders bloc to come on board (Sanders received two shout-outs during the convention on Thursday), and are doing their best to lure them into the GOP. The Libertarian Party is doing the same thing on social issues with Sanders’ folks, while eschewing economics. But the GOP has to decide whether the Sanders bloc is actually big enough to push the party back into the White House. Yes, it could be a million or so more votes to the GOP side. But there are Sanders supporters who are Democratic loyalists, so they’re not going to walk away from the “D,” even if the highly unpopular Clinton is on the ballot. There are also Sanders supporters out there who have eliminated Donald Trump as a candidate because they don’t support his rhetoric (even if it’s in line which things Sanders has supported, just more harsh)
The other question for the GOP is whether all this is worth it. The party has been told (and told voters) over and over again it needs to moderate itself to be electable. This is why Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush were favored sons in 2008 and 2016. But at the same time, the GOP is running the risk of going so far right it ends up going left (if it hasn’t already). Trump’s rhetoric on fair trade and his comments on fixing up infrastructure are all from the Sanders playbook. His, “I am not going to let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way, without consequence,” promise during Thursday’s acceptance speech is right up there with the “economic patriotism” calls from the Obama Administration or the individual mandate in Obamacare. The GOP’s decision to go “all-in” on this type of rhetoric shows why there are members who are now looking at Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson as an alternative to Clinton vs. Trump.
This is why it just seems odd for the GOP to be going this hard after Bernie Sanders supporters. The party was supposed to be against government involvement in economic things (in rhetoric), but now it’s all for it. The GOP was supposed to stand for freedom and liberty (in rhetoric), but is now pushing ahead with being involved in the bedroom, the boardroom, and everything in between. Their leftist attack on Tim Kaine shows the party has officially abandoned the idea of economic liberty (not that the party which brought on the 2008 bailouts really was in favor of economic liberty to begin with). It’s might seem sad (or is it “Sad!”?) to see this happening, but if the mask comes off and both major parties reveal themselves as the statist kaijus they actually are that might not be a bad thing. If only the American people would get on board with the entire, “stay out of the bedroom, boardroom, and everything in between,” idea too.