A “Meet the Press” panel warned Sunday that the Democrats’ current messaging on the “culture wars” will cause a “real problem” for the party in the midterm elections.
The hosts discussed a range of social policy issues they said the Democrats have poorly messaged to their base as they near the midterm elections. Former Republican Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo told host Chuck Todd that Republicans are currently leading the way surrounding the culture wars.
“Right now, Republicans are winning the culture wars in this country, that’s just the way it is,” he said. “You look at ‘defund the police’, you look at ‘defund ICE’, now in Florida you have this parental empowerment bill, the opponents call it the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.’ Republicans have basically baited Democrats in Florida into taking a position that students in K-3, students who are learning to color and read and write, should be taught about sexuality, about gender identity.”
He went on to say that Democrats have “consistently been … on the wrong side” of the issues and will lead Republicans to run on these issues.
Kimberly Atkins Stohr, senior opinion writer for the Boston Globe, said Democrats have been silent on opposing Florida’s recently passed “Parental Rights in Education” bill for penalizing people on what they say, which could ultimately help strengthen their base.
“It’s been astonishing to me that the Democrats haven’t grabbed onto a libertarian attack on this because this is big government telling people what to do,” Todd chimed in. “This is government saying they want to decide, they want to know what your kid’s gender is. Like … get out of my kid’s bedroom.” (RELATED: ‘Five-Alarm Fire For The Democratic Party’: New WSJ Poll Spells Doom For The Midterms)
The Republican-backed bill forbids classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3 and requires school districts to notify parents of changes to their child’s physical, mental or emotional health and allow for them to opt their child out of health services provided by the school.
NBC News correspondent Josh Lederman said Democrats have allowed their base to be “defined by the other side” and have been silent on cultural issues.
“If you were to ask the average parent of a 1st grader ‘do you want your kid to be taught about sex in 1st grade?’ Lederman said. “Most parents would probably say ‘eh, probably not.’ But if you ask ‘is it okay for your kid to be read a book about Peter the penguin who has two penguin dads?’ You’re not going to have the same kind of response. But Democrats have sort of ceded the argument on this, on so many of these cultural issues.”
Anna Palmer, founder of Punchbowl News, said Democrats are “on their heels” surrounding the issues of abortion, schools, and COVID and have not created an “animating slogan” to message on these issues.
“We haven’t been able to see Democrats mobilize on this,” she said. “I do think if it totally goes away, you’re gonna see Democrats try to find a way to get their base out to the polls. Right now, they have not done anything on voter rights, immigration, all these other things. There’s a real issue here for Democrats in the midterms.”
Curbelo said the lack of messaging from the Democratic Party’s messaging is “disconnected” from the majority of voters on policy issues, leading them to lose Hispanic and working class voters.
Democrats have been losing their base with Hispanic voters after decades of holding their widespread support. In Texas, four Hispanic women have already won their respective Republican primaries, with three potentially becoming the first Hispanic women and first Republicans to represent South Texas in Congress. A December poll found that Democrats and Republicans hold equal numbers of support among Hispanics.