Asif Mahmood

The NYT Editorial Board has rebuked various Democratic Party institutions for actively supporting election-denying and otherwise extremist Republicans to the detriment of allegedly more moderate voices within the Republican Party.  The problem, however, is that the Republican Party has utterly failed to address the attempt of Donald Trump to destroy the republic on January 6.  While the Republican Party has not hesitated to censure and force from office those very few Republicans who rightly voted to impeach Trump, there has been little disciplinary action against those who have embraced the Big Lie assertion that voter fraud resulted in Trump’s loss. 

January 6 can and should define the Republican Party until the alleged moderates work more courageously to address the continuing lies that persist among its base.  If you are a Republican and did not vote to impeach Trump, you are not a moderate.  If you are a Republican and did not vote to establish a commission to examine the origins of the attempt to overthrow the government on January 6, you are not a moderate.

One of these alleged moderates in the Republican Party is Young Kim of Southern California.  Her Democratic opponent in the upcoming November election, Asif Mahmood, strategically raised the profile of Kim’s opponent in the June primary, the election-denying extremist Greg Raths.  Dr. Mahmood, who had a clear path to victory in the Democratic primary, chose to use some of his campaign funds on attack ads against the extremist underdog Raths, rather than the clear favorite Kim.  By elevating Raths in this manner, Mahmood compelled the incumbent Kim to defend herself from attacks on the right.  It was a keen tactical move by Dr. Mahmood.

Kim immediately donned her scuba gear and visited the Kochtopus in order to obtain millions of dollars to defend herself against attacks from the far right.  She used this money to smear Raths, not for his policies but for allegations of a more personal nature.  It was the same tactic she used against her previous opponent, the Democratic incumbent Gil Cisneros.  She accused Cisneros of all sorts of corruption in ad campaigns that were implicitly racist.  Of course, she did not use her elevation to office to further pursue prosecution of Cisneros or even offer legislation that might have prevented the alleged corruption.  The combination of racism, hypocrisy and massive corporate money was enough to secure her seat in Congress.

Kim’s campaign against Raths did not target his Big Lie election denial or the broader framework of his QAnon lunacy.  No, she accused him of – wait for it – wanting to raise taxes!  The only element of Raths’ extremism that she attacked was his implication that a Jewish cabal is at the heart of the deep state.  This allowed Kim to absurdly frame Raths in relation to The Squad.  Young Kim’s entire policy line can be defined by her hatred of three things:  taxes, abortion, and Ilhan Omar.

Raths responded by targeting those two times when Kim chose to venture off of the well-trodden path of the Trump cult.  The first was when she voted to censure but not impeach Donald Trump after January 6.  She did so only after having received the permission of Kevin McCarthy to do so.  Hardly a profile in courage here.

Raths also attacked her for voting to censure Marjorie Taylor Greene.  As one of only eleven Republicans to do so, this took a degree of “independence” that can only be appreciated in the context of the absurdity that currently defines the Republican Party.  The fact that only eleven Republicans voted to censure Greene should give everyone pause.  The alleged moderate focused in the Times editorial, Mr. Peter Meijer of Michigan, appears to have had no problem with Greene serving on the House Education and Labor Committee.

It is important that we not forget what brought Representative Greene to that point of decision for Congress.  Since when did it become permissible for an elected representative to pose with an assault weapon targeting three other elected representatives?  What does it say about our political culture that a person who believes that Jewish lasers were used to start the 2018 Camp Fire in California, Hillary Clinton is part of a satanic child sex trafficking ring, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Sandy Hook shootings were staged, and many other absurdities should be wanted by all but eleven elected Republicans to sit on the House Education Committee?

By elevating the voice of Raths in the campaign, Dr. Mahmood forced Kim to defend herself against a key element of the Republican base in Orange County.  Mahmood’s strategy almost certainly lowered the degree of enthusiasm that the MAGA world might have for Kim.  More importantly, by forcing Kim to defend her right flank, her credentials as a moderate have been undermined.  The independents in the newly drawn district might see her for the empty political vessel she is.

Dr. Mahmood still has a steep climb to victory, despite being an outstanding candidate.  Unlike Kim, he has clear policy positions on climate change, gun violence, health care, and campaign finance reform.  Kim, by contrast, really hates taxes, abortion, and Ilhan Omar.  Expect to see a lot of anti-Muslim smear in Kim’s upcoming campaign.  Kim will surely continue to swim in the wake of Trump and Greene.

Dr. Mahmood, by elevating a MAGA Republican, forced the allegedly moderate Republican to have to face the MAGA reality of her party.  Money well spent!

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