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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 8: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference an...
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Democrats are actively campaigning for right-wing extremists

Democrats are doing whatever it takes to ensure the midterm elections turn out favorably. That seems good on the surface, but “whatever it takes” becomes problematic when your party has lost the entire damn plot. Because now, Democrats are buying ads for Republicans’ worst candidates in the misguided hope that it’ll set up easy wins in November. (Spoiler: It won’t.)

Last week, the House Majority PAC gained national attention by airing a 30-second TV advertisement promoting Chris Mathys, a challenger running against the more moderate Republican Rep. David Valadao in California’s newly drawn 22nd District. (You might remember Mathys for suing California’s Secretary of State so he could appear as “Trump Conservative/Businessman” on the ballot.)

The ad compares the two Republican candidates to cans of food with the same partisan “label” and discusses differences in their ideological “ingredients.” At one point, the narrator says, “David Valadao claims he’s Republican ― yet, David Valadao voted to impeach President Trump. Yeah, Valadao voted to impeach President Trump.”

Why would the House Majority PAC, which Axios noted has ties to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, fund a 30-second ad for Mathys? Most importantly: Why fund an ad focusing on Valadao’s vote to impeach Trump, as if that’s a bad thing? Basically, Democrats are trying to isolate the moderate Republicans, whom they see as more of a threat come November, by touting their more extreme counterparts. By giving people like Mathys votes, Democrats think their own obviously more reasonable candidates will have an easier shot at winning when they’re up against flat-out extremists.

Cue eye roll.

Unfortunately, this short-sighted strategy extends beyond the House Majority PAC. Out of California’s 40th District, Democrat Asif Mahmood has run ads that targeted Republican Greg Raths instead of the moderate Rep. Young Kim, despite the fact that Kim is the incumbent. Raths, meanwhile, is more known for his apparent antisemitism.

In addition, a new Democratic super PAC in Colorado reserved nearly $1.5 million in TV ad slots. One of the ads promoted Rep. Ron Hanks in the June 28 GOP primary. It was condemned by his rival Joe O’Dea as “hijacking the Republican nomination for an unserious candidate who has zero chance of winning.” O’Dea and Hanks are vying to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet this fall.

Aside from being a little bit pathetic, the strategy isn’t even working: Axios reported that both Kim and Valadao are on track to prevail in their respective primary races. But even if it was seeing success, it still wouldn’t be a good idea. The entire game-plan rests on assuming that Democrats will have an easier time winning if the Republican option is a super extreme weirdo. But have Democrats seen whom Republicans themselves platform today? There’s QAnon lover Marjorie Taylor Green and anime killer Paul Gosar. And yes, Madison Cawthorn lost his primary last month, but he’s still in office for now so let’s count him, too.

Right now, Democrats including President Biden are spending a lot of time lecturing people to go vote if they want to see any social change. But Democrats cannot continue to dangle people’s fears over reproductive agency, gun violence, and health care over their heads as the main motivator to get them into voting lines. If Democrats want to do well at the primaries, they’re going to need to do so off their own merit. Who the hell wants to go vote for a party that has a terrible track record despite controlling the White House, Senate, and House? Most importantly, who’s voting for Democrats when the party can’t articulate what its candidates have to offer besides, “Well, we’re not that other guy”?