There have been very few elections that can be boiled down to a choice between two words. But 2018 is one of them. It’s all about results on one side and resistance on the other. That is, effectively, all the uninitiated need know to become informed voters. Well, maybe not, but you get the point.
One side can boast an impressive array of achievements and mold-breaking; the other pledges to resist at all costs. But in the most polarized political environment in decades, how important is this election compared to all the others depicted as “the most important of our lifetime?”
In a bow to baseball’s postseason, let’s put it this way: Because it’s not a presidential election year, the 2018 midterm elections are not the World Series, but they are the round preceding it – the League Championship Series, which lays the groundwork for the Fall Classic. The only difference in politics is you have to wait two years for the World Series, i.e. another chance to weigh in on Donald Trump.
Resist, Resist, Resist
The 2018 Democrats are positioned as a party openly proclaiming their intention to resist all things Trump – and little otherwise. Their “Better Deal” agenda unveiled many months ago fell flat out of the gate, and they have offered no coherent platform since, other than defying Trump at every turn. The best example of how this strategy – if you can call it that – has failed their base is the Democrats’ refusal to accept Trump’s offer to legalize twice as many DACA “dreamers” as President Obama. It was a good offer, the best they could possibly expect to receive. And yet they rejected it because it came from the reviled 45th President.
Democrats can talk all they want about the impeachment of Trump or Brett Kavanaugh if they gain control of the House, but they know full well that the chances of fulfilling their ambition of removing either are almost zero. The two-thirds vote in the Senate required to remove either one will never happen absent dramatic intervening events.
Failure to Learn
One wonders if the Democrats have learned from recent history. In 1998, the GOP-controlled House passed articles of impeachment against President Clinton, and his popularity actually rose to near 60% upon leaving office two years later. The nation clearly believed the Republicans overreached against a president who, scandals aside, had presided over a strong economy. Sound familiar?
Democrats have hardly been alone in obstructing a president of the opposing party. Republicans similarly tried to block almost every move by President Obama. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pledged to make Obama a one-term president, but there is a crucial distinction. GOP opposition was based strictly on policy rather than Obama’s widely appealing persona. This time, it is deeply personal. The left’s searing hatred for Trump is, in the words of Hillary Clinton, irredeemable. Indeed, the safest bet in America is that the Democrats will never, ever accept the legitimacy of the 2016 election or the Trump presidency. They will never believe that the American people could possibly elect this vulgarian unless things were not on the level. Hence, it must have been Russia or the FBI or whatever. Call it irrational, but the left believes it down to the marrow of their bones.
Expect the president and his GOP allies to spend ample time in the run-up to Election Day pounding home the specter of congressional power turned over to the terrifying trio of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and of course Maxine “Mad Max” Waters. Oh, and Hillary Clinton will be brought front and center as well.
All About Results
Now compare the Democrats’ immovable object of hatred for Trump with the irresistible force of the president’s documented results. In less than 21 months, he has pushed through massive deregulation and a game-changing tax reform bill, providing a shot of adrenaline to an economy that has outpaced even the most optimistic expectations – more than 4% growth in the latest quarter.
Notwithstanding its recent correction, the stock market is up 40% since Trump’s election. Four million new jobs have been created, including more than 400,000 in manufacturing sectors written off as hopeless. Unemployment has reached historically low levels. In fact, at 3.7%, we are near what economists consider full employment. And most notably, jobless rates have hit new lows among the Democrats’ most important constituencies: blacks, Hispanics, and women.
Trump has used the full leverage of American economic and military strength to cut superior international deals – witness the latest with Canada and Mexico – and to pull out of others, foremost among them the nuclear deal with Iran. He has dramatically changed the course of relations with the nation many consider the greatest threat to America, North Korea, edging ever-closer to another historic deal. And the long-negotiated release of American Pastor Andrew Brunson by Turkey now brings the number of Americans liberated from foreign captivity since Trump took office up to 18.
He has broken the mold of how business is to be done. He has served notice that, unlike previous presidents, he is not owned by anyone and will not be bound by tradition, nor by the way things have always been done in Washington. Consider Trump’s latest venture into the land of “this-is-not-how-you’re-supposed-to-do-it.” He publicly criticized the Federal Reserve for the eight rate hikes it has engineered since he took office, a move many a president would like to have made, but never did.
Similarly, he ignored the near-unanimous advice of his political consultants and called out the holes in Christine Blasey Ford’s story. He finally did what his predecessors had promised for years and moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, not to mention calling out our NATO allies who have failed to pay their fair share.
A Red Tsunami?
Imagine for a moment that the flagrantly biased establishment media played it straight and reported fairly – or at all – on the bedrock issues of the economy, jobs, and international relations. Republicans would likely strengthen their hold on both houses of Congress. And if the media was slanted right to the same degree it is to the left, we would be looking at a red tsunami.
Consider also that the GOP is now united after arguably the most underrated element of Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court: Uniting traditional conservatives with the Trump base. Even President George W. Bush, hardly a fan of Trump, joined in the chorus of praise for Kavanaugh, and old-line Republicans like Lindsey Graham were forceful advocates for the judge. It reached the point that, for example, even hard-core Never Trumper Bret Stephens of The New York Times said he was “grateful” for Trump through the Kavanaugh ordeal.
Most notable among the few things Trump has yet to achieve on his incredibly ambitious agenda of reform are “The Wall” and a full repeal of Obamacare. He has demonstrated patience on the wall, content, for now, to make steady, incremental progress amid Democrat intransigence. He got a repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate in the tax reform bill and is attempting to dismantle it in a piecemeal fashion. But there are no indications that his core support of more than one-third of the nation’s electorate is disappointed, given the many runs their president has put on the scoreboard.
Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump is the least nuanced president in American history. He rarely lets a thought go unexpressed – nor a promise go unfulfilled. This is what his supporters love and his detractors hate.
Ignore the circus sideshows and the biased media, and look at the results, the true bottom line. If this election is a referendum on Trump’s results, the GOP stands a chance of losing a minimal number of seats or even gaining seats in the House and could pick up anywhere from three to five seats in the Senate. If, on the other hand, it becomes a referendum on Trump’s personality, the resistance is likely to ride a blue wave.
Any way you cut it, while he is not on the ballot in any of the 468 House and Senate races across the land, the 2018 midterm elections will undeniably be a referendum on Donald J. Trump. Bring it on.
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