COMMENTARY | According to the Washington Times, the Republicans are going to use Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as an issue in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections. In a way they are taking a leaf from the Democrats’ playbook.
Reid has made himself an appealing target, with his blocking of virtually every Republican favored bill in the Senate, his obsession with the Koch brothers, and his smearing of people ranging from Mitt Romney to supporters of Cliven Bundy. He is the image of a cranky, unappealing old man. The idea is that if people vote Republican, they will consign Reid to minority status and hence remove much of his power to obstruct, if not to annoy.
Democrats have often singled out conservative figures, Saul Alinsky style, and demonized them with varying effects. The strategy didn’t work so well for Ronald Reagan or George W, Bush, but did for Romney and John McCain. They continue to demonize figures like Sarah Palin and Senator Ted Cruz.
The question arises, will the strategy work? Does anyone care who the Senate Majority Leader is?
The answer is, possibly enough of the 2014 electorate, which will tend to be more motivated to vote Republican anyway. The strategy may help to buttress the conservative base and motivate them to turn out in greater numbers.
Another question arises, should the Republicans take the Senate, how much will that development be laid at the feet of Reid? When a party suffers a terrible reversal, the search for scapegoats usually ensues. Harry Reid may take the fall and be replaced.
Unfortunately the man likely to replace Reid as Democratic leader in the Senate is Chuck Schumer, the senior senator from New York. Schumer is just as much as a hyperpartisan as is Reid as well as having an unappealing personality. So even in a post Reid Senate, toxic partisanship will prevail.