Op-ed: Turnout is fair game

  • By Bob Franken
  • Friday, May 11, 2018 9:27am
  • Opinion

It’s not something he does very often, but this time President Donald Trump was telling the truth when, in his rambles before the National Rifle Association Convention in Dallas — he pointed out that the upcoming midterms will be determined by voter turnout.

Turnout is always the be-all and end-all when it comes to any election, but it’s particularly vital in this one. The Democrats will get the chance to demonstrate whether they can abandon their usual backbiting and lethargy, and instead channel all the anti-Trump horror into crowds at polling places.

Donald Trump is not even on the 2018 ballot. It’s a race to control Congress, but he recognizes that if Dems take over the GOP-majority Senate or House, or even just the House, his presidency is in deep doo-doo. The opposition will be empowered to constantly harass him and even impeach him if the stars align. The Trumpster by sheer force of his nasty demagoguery has done everything he can to line those stars up so he must now whip up even more intense hate among the millions in his base so they’ll turn up at the ballot box and vote their fears and prejudices. That’s why he was preaching to his NRA choir that “We’ve got to do great in ‘18.”

He is well-aware that he needs to create more passion on the right, even for those in the party who are less than enthusiastic about him. They are even less enthusiastic about the Democrats, who are doing everything they can to overcome the divisions that invariably define them.

Already, the D’s are bickering over whether they’ll stick with Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House if they take over. The R’s demonize her nonstop, so many candidates in her party are running away from Pelosi as hard as they’re running for their congressional seat. But they also have to run from their party’s notorious ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. If they can’t channel their anti-Trump frenzy into voter turnout, then in the words of Rep. Jim Clyburn, a member of Pelosi’s leadership team, “If we’re still in the minority, all of us have got to go.” There are those who believe that if the Democratic organization cannot turn the anti-Trump resistance into a “wave” of voters, then perhaps the time really has come to look for a replacement for the Democratic Party.

It is not overstating it to argue that this election, as much as any in our history, will define the United States of America. Even though he’s not on the ballot, his fellow countrymen and women will be deciding whether to reject or accept Donald Trump’s record as president after nearly two years of racism, misogyny, outright stupidity and autocratic tendencies, as well as his constant lying. Is such a person the one who should continue to lead this country? It’s the first chance since Trump had his election handed to him by the feckless opposition, with a little help from his friend Vladimir Putin, for the citizens of the United States to make it clear what we stand for.

And it’s not just one campaign, it’s 470 for Congress alone — all 435 House seats are up for grabs and 35 in the Senate. That probably will make it difficult for the Russians to steal all of them. It’s one thing to get one campaign to collude with them, but 470 would be tough.

But those other adversaries of U.S. democracy, the big-money contributors, will be spreading their financial poison over most of the races. Already they are dumping huge amounts. Through hook and crook — mainly crook — they can pay for misleading ads that smear anyone they decide they need to oppose.

Still, the wild card is the wild man. Donald Trump is impervious to scandal with those in his base. If the opposition can’t match their turnout, it will be the scandal that indelibly stains the nation.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

More in Opinion

Opinion: Freedom in the classroom sets precedence for the future

We advocate for the adoption of legislation to protect students’ First Amendment rights…

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. Children’s hospitals in parts of the country are seeing a distressing surge in RSV, a common respiratory illness that can cause severe breathing problems for babies. Cases fell dramatically two years ago as the pandemic shut down schools, day cares and businesses. Then, with restrictions easing, the summer of 2021 brought an alarming increase in what is normally a fall and winter virus. (CDC via AP)
Alaska Voices: What Alaskans need to know about RSV

By learning more about respiratory illnesses and taking helpful actions, we can all take steps to improve the situation

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Multiplying the power of every local dollar given

Each community foundation is a public charity that focuses on supporting a geographic area by pooling donations to meet community needs

The Homer Public Library as seen on Aug. 18, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (File photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Point of View: Banning books corrodes diversity and inclusion in our community

Recently, a community member requested that a long list of books be removed from the children’s collection

Peninsula Oilers fans display encouragin signs for Oilers’ pitcher Bryan Woo, Friday, June 28, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Judging judges — balancing the judicial selection process

Alaska’s method of selecting judges can be and should be improved.

Sarah Palin speaks at a July 11 Save America Rally featuring former President Donald Trump at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The realities of Palin’s political demise

Palin wouldn’t be running for the seat if Rep. Don Young was still alive

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: What can a liberal and conservative agree on? Voting against a constitutional convention

“We disagree on many issues. But we… urge Alaskans to vote against Proposition 1.”

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Down to the wire: Be prepared before you vote

Remember your voice counts and all votes matter

Soldotna City Council member Justin Ruffridge. (Courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: We must refuse to reward ugly political tactics

With our vote we have to show that extremism and dishonesty do not win the day