Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Midterm Elections: It's Not About The Economy, Stupid. It's About Donald Trump.

Will the "mob" that opposed the appointment of sexual predator and perjurer Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court prevail four weeks from today in the most important election since the last one? 
The last election was, of course, the one that all the pundits -- myself included -- got very wrong as another sexual predator and perjurer (do we have a pattern here?) was improbably elected on the backs of the Make America Great Again lumpenproletariat with an assist from Donald Trump's best buddy, Vladimir Putin, in his quest to Make Russia Great Again. 
Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, flushed with hubris after Kavanaugh's lifetime appointment to the high court was approved by a deeply divided Senate, used the term "mob" over the weekend in dismissing the opposition to Kavanaugh as the bleatings of a few loud protesters. 
"In their quest for power, the radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob," Trump said at yet another of his campaign-style rallies, this one in a Kansas that Dorothy would hardly recognize.  
The conventional wisdom, so wrong in 2016, is that while the Kavanaugh debacle has energized woman voters and will help Democratic House candidates, it also has energized Trump's base, the people who wouldn't give a fig if Trump shot someone on Fifth Avenue, and that will help Republican Senate candidates.  This, according to that conventional wisdom, means that while Democrats have a chance to take back the House, the Senate will remain in Republican hands, which is to say with the execrable McConnell still in charge. 
Although the concept of "logic" has fallen almost as low as the fealty to "truth," there is a certain logic to this assessment.   
Here's why: 
All 428 House seats are in play.  Democrats need to flip 24 to take control of the lower chamber, and there is every indication one month out that they will do that and more because of the voter demographics in red state districts that are trending blue and Trump's unpopularity in many of those districts.   
There are 37 Senate seats in play.  Democrats need to flip only two to take control of the upper chamber, but that will be difficult because the most highly contested seats involve Democrats running for re-election in states won by Trump.  Put another way, Democrats need to win 28 seats to take control of the Senate and Republicans need to win only nine to keep control.  Put even more starkly, Democrats must retain all of their seats and win two of the Republican seats in play. 
But it is the issues that are motivating voters, -- and that "mob" in particular -- that may matter most.  This explains why Democrats have a good shot at recapturing the House and still have a long shot at retaking the Senate. 
The economy will not be among those issues, stupid. 
Although voters traditionally vote their pocketbooks and the economy is robust with unemployment below 4 percent and the stock market going bonkers, many voters have seen through the massive Republican tax cuts as a giveaway for the rich and mere crumbs for the middle class.  They understand that Trump inherited a healthy economy from the Islamofascist president and is doing his best to fuck with it through unnecessary trade wars and giving Wall Street an unconscionably long leash.  Falling back on the old culture wars meme of the liberal "mob" is an admission that the tax cuts aren't electrifying voters unless they spend their days glued to Fox News.  
Many voters also have seen through the ceaseless efforts of Trump and Republicans to eviscerate Obamacare, which is freighted with irony since Democrats lost the House in 2010 because of the unpopularity of heath-care reform and may well retake the House in 2018 because the health-care reform many voters have now come to love being imperiled. 
Add to that the Republican War on Women, which has resulted in a record number of woman candidates and was encapsulated brilliantly in the Kavanaugh debacle, Republican treatment of minorities and the party's disdain for actually governing.  There also are the issues of gun safety (formerly known as gun control) and Trump's policy of separating children from their immigrant parents and confining the whole lot of them in detention centers. 
Then stir in Trump's pugnacity, pettiness, lawbreaking and use of the presidency as a profit center for his family business, and things are looking pretty good for Democrats.   
No day in my life has been no more depressing than November 8, 2016.   
Beyond the knowledge that the next president would be a narcissistic boy-man who was profoundly unsuited for the office, I had let down my readers in fecklessly predicting a Lock Her Up Hillary landslide victory.  After two years in which Trump and his Republican helpmates have relentlessly chipped away at the core values that once made America great, a lot of voters share my view that it is time for a national do-over. 
American democracy is broken with or without Trump.  Tribalism run amok has much to do with that, but Democrats also must share the blame for the parlous state of government.   
But if the 2018 midterm election is indeed all about Donald Trump, then democracy may yet survive if -- and this is a very big if -- Democrats can score big election victories and then actually govern while beginning to restore the balance of powers and perhaps some civility, while they're at it.  All this while impeaching Trump and Kavanaugh and safeguarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia scandal investigation. 
Oh, and in the meantime, thank you for your help, Taylor Swift.   


Anonymous said...

Any Democrat who reads this needs to find a way to take a fellow voter to the polls to vote Democratic. Here in Iowa we cannot just vote a straight ticket anymore. We really have to work at it voting for each Democrat running.

Dan Leo said...

Thanks for another excellent summing-up, Shaun.

Will Taylor Swift save democracy?

Bscharlott said...

No, you did not let us down with a prediction that proved wrong. Even Nate Silver got it wrong. We don't read your scribblings because you are a fortuneteller. You are damned good journalist and essayist who provides plenty of facts and insights so we can make our predictions. So keep doing what you are doing. It's a great service.