Some have dubbed the midterm elections a “split decision,” with the Democrats picking up almost 40 seats, enabling them to regain control of the House of Representatives, while the Republicans not only held onto their slim majority in the Senate, but actually gained seats.
It certainly was not the Blue Wave the Democrats had hoped for. By comparison, in the “red wave” elections of 1994 and 2010, the Republicans gained 52 and 63 seats, respectively, in the House, along with good gains in the Senate. Had the Republicans actually gained seats in the House in the midterm, it would have gone against the history of the past century. Since 1914, the party holding the White House has picked up seats in the midterms only three times.
The Democrats greatly outspent the Republicans. In the Texas Senate contest between incumbent Ted Cruz and Democrat challenger Beto O’Rourke, O’Rourke’s campaign had raised $69 million and spent $59 million as of October 17. These amounts were significantly above the $40 million raised and $34 million spent by the Cruz campaign. All in all, about $5 billion was spent in the 2018 midterms.
Almost two-thirds of political donations went to the Democrats in this cycle’s House contests, with in excess of 90 percent of House Democrats in competitive races outspending their Republican opponents.
Generally, the reason that any political party holding the presidency loses seats in Congress in the midterm is that the supporters of the party having the White House tend to be more satisfied. The party shut out of the White House, on the other hand, tends to be unsatisfied, even angry, and anger is a more powerful motivator than satisfaction.
Each election, however, has its own nuances, and each congressional district has its own issues and demographic changes affecting the outcome. Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson argued that the three biggest issues of the midterms were immigration, the economy, and nationalism — which Carlson defined as placing the interest of one’s own country over that of any other nation.
President Donald Trump certainly defined the issues of immigration and nationalism (as opposed to globalism), at least for most voters. Many commentators were curious as to why the good economy did not help the Republicans more than it did. With the unemployment rate the lowest it has been in almost 50 years, it is a good question. The best answer is that the mainstream media, which clearly despise Trump, have chosen to give little coverage to the economy. Had the economic numbers been this good while Barack Obama was residing in the White House, does anyone doubt that the media would have given them much more coverage? The main power of the media is in setting the agenda — telling us what is important, in their mind, anyway — and the hard reality is that very little of what helps Trump and the Republicans is going to be on their newsworthy agenda.
Still, the Republicans could have done better implementing the agenda the country voted for in 2016. Despite having a Republican in the White House and controlling both houses of Congress, they failed to deliver on their promises to repeal ObamaCare and control immigration — which no doubt left many Republicans less than enthused about working hard to get them reelected.
Art Thompson, the CEO of the constitutionalist John Birch Society (the parent organization of The New American), said that many of the losing Republicans were those who chose to reject “the American First agenda.” In Oklahoma, for example, Representative Steve Russell “ran against the national message of the party,” according to Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. Russell opposed much of Trump’s immigration agenda, and lost a seat that has been in Republican hands since 1976. Carlos Curbelo of Miami, the co-founder of the House “climate change caucus” and a “moderate” Republican, also lost.
Thompson placed much of the blame for the losses in the House on the poor leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan and his fellow RINOS. Other than the tax cut, there was not really much for the House Republicans to run on in the way of accomplishments. If anything, Ryan actually fought Trump on issues such as building a wall. And the failure to repeal ObamaCare — other than the ditching of the individual mandate, admittedly a good thing — had to depress Republican enthusiasm.
With many of those who opposed Trump’s “America First” agenda ousted from Congress, Thompson noted, Trump’s agenda might actually get a shot in the arm.
The Kavanaugh Effect
The Senate, however, was a different story, with Republicans adding to their slim majority. The “Brett Kavanaugh Effect” appears to have played a major role, as Democrats in Missouri, Indiana, Florida, and South Dakota who voted against his confirmation to the Supreme Court lost. In stark contrast, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the lone Democrat to vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and he won. According to Fox News’ Britt Hume, Manchin closely examined polling data during the hearings, which convinced him that “he was done” had he opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Trump spent the last two days of the campaign staging rallies in five states — Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri — states that had important Senate or gubernatorial contests, or both. In Tennessee, Representative Marsha Blackburn won the open Senate seat over Governor Phil Bredesen, who argued that his problem was the “brand” of the national Democratic Party. In Indiana, Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly lost to businessman Mike Braun, while Republican Josh Hawley ended the tenure of Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.
Trump also supported incumbent Republicans, such as his 2016 primary foe, Ted Cruz, which demonstrated that he was willing to put aside their past differences to advance his agenda — which, of course includes immigration, healthcare, putting America First, and the like. Interestingly, what was almost totally absent from any of the contests in the Senate or the House was mention of Vladimir Putin and the alleged “Russian collusion” story.
The Democrats evidently decided that bringing up the largely discredited Russia probe was not going to win them any more votes than they already had, but with the Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives, we can expect them to do all they can to resurrect that as an issue.
With a compliant media and control of several House committees, it is expected that the Democrats will use their committee investigative powers to attack the Trump administration, probably on a daily basis. As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, expected to resume the role as speaker of the House that she lost after the 2010 “red wave,” told PBS, the Democrats will “certainly honor responsibility as [providing] oversight of the executive branch.”
During the campaign, Democrats opted to downplay talk of impeachment of Trump (although Representative Maxine Waters was not shy about uttering the “I” word), presumably believing it would be counterproductive to their chances of regaining the House. But a reporter, Mollie Hemingway, traveling on an Amtrak train from New York to Washington on the day after the election, listened as Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler spoke on his phone about what the Democrats had planned in the next Congress.
According to Hemingway, Nadler, who will chair the House Judiciary Committee (which would initiate any impeachment hearings), said to an unknown person on the other end of the line that the Democrats were “all in” on impeaching both Trump and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Nadler was apparently unaware that a reporter for The Federalist, a conservative blog, was listening to his conversation.
It takes a simple majority of the House of Representatives to impeach the president, and the Democrats are now in the majority. Of course, it is uncertain if all Democrats in the next House would go along with such a plan, and it is doubtful that any Republicans would, unless there was a good reason to do so. And even if the Democrats did impeach Trump or Kavanaugh, it is highly unlikely that the Senate, in Republican control, would produce the two-thirds vote needed for conviction.
According to Hemingway, Nadler assured the person to whom he was talking that the investigation would not be called an impeachment probe at first, so as to not alarm the public. Concerning Kavanaugh, Nadler speculated that he could be charged with perjury — lying under oath — but added that Trump would probably appoint a replacement “just as bad.”
Were the Democrats to actually pull the trigger and impeach Trump, without any good reason other than they just do not like him, the American people could be expected to take note and punish the Democrats at the polls in 2020, especially if they blamed the Democrats for a slow-down in the economy as a result. Nadler even expressed that concern in his phone conversation.
Even a president who actually did do something wrong — Bill Clinton — and got impeached faced no actual prospect of conviction. But it did lead to the Democrats gaining seats in the House of Representatives in the 1998 elections. A groundless impeachment would certainly infuriate the Republican base, driving them into increased political action in 2020.
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This article appears in the December 10, 2018, issue of The New American. To download the issue and continue reading this story, or to subscribe, click here.
Democrat Mischief in the House?
But an impeachment effort is not the only mischief that the House Democrats are expected to launch next year. For example, Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland is expected to take over chairmanship of the House Oversight Committee. He has indicated that he wants to subpoena the secretary of commerce to testify under oath about adding a question about citizenship to the upcoming 2020 census. In the past, Democrats have argued that he lied about his reasons for including the question.
Democrats are also expected to challenge Trump’s executive actions on ObamaCare, including his decision to relax the mandate for full coverage of contraceptives. The president’s tax returns are collection of documents the Democrats have long wanted to see, and they will probably craft some excuse to demand to see them. And of course, the Democrats will no doubt continue their “investigation” into the alleged Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election, even if Special Counsel Robert Mueller issues a report largely exonerating Trump.
With all of these anticipated investigations, along with others, most Republicans and quite a few constitutional conservatives are understandably nervous and disappointed. After all, how could it be a good thing that radicals such as Jerrold Nadler, Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and Maxine Waters are going to be setting the agenda of the House for the next two years?
But there is a “silver lining” in all of this.
For one thing, the Republicans still hold the Senate, with gains. It should be much easier to confirm federal judges, including members of the Supreme Court. The resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a powerful illustration that it is critical that Trump be able to name Cabinet officers who are loyal to him and his agenda, without worrying that a Republican such as Susan Collins might vote with the Democrats and sink the appointment. Fortunately, the Democrat House will have no say in either judicial or executive appointments.
Certainly, the Democrats will control the House, but this will enable the American people to see clearly just how radical their leaders really are. Republicans will be more motivated to stop such extremists from seizing the White House and the Senate in 2020. Had the Republicans actually kept the House, many Americans would have been more inclined to become too satisfied, perhaps leading to a bigger loss in 2020.
The Blessings of Gridlock
Some fret, however, that “nothing is going to get done, legislatively” over the next two years. While such gridlock will certainly preclude any meaningful legislative action on a true free-market healthcare reform, or in shoring up the border, the wise words of former President Calvin Coolidge are very relevant to this issue. He said that it is better to kill a bad bill than to pass a good one. In other words, while Republicans will be stymied legislatively for a couple of years, it also means that the Democrats cannot get much done with their agenda, either. But over the two years, the Democrats will cast a lot of votes on their agenda, giving their constitutionalist opponents plenty of material to use against them in the next election.
It is not clear what effect, if any, the Democratic Party control of the House will have on the dangerous “free trade” agenda. While many conservative-minded Americans hear “free trade,” and think “free enterprise,” these deals with foreign countries are anything but “free market” agreements. On the contrary, they are government-managed trade deals, and they transfer the constitutional power of Congress over commerce (trade) to an international body instead. In short, America’s national sovereignty is sacrificed on the altar of free trade.
Historically, Democrats have often quibbled about these various trade agreements (probably to please labor unions), but as Thompson said, they usually wind up voting for them after negotiating for some changes. Unfortunately, the changes invariably make the deals even worse. For example, in 2007, President George W. Bush gave in to Democrat demands to add language favorable to unions and more regulations on the economy, including draconian environmental standards. “The Democrats are not going to make it easy for political reasons,” predicted Bill Reinsch, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
As Celeste Drake, a trade policy specialist for the AFL-CIO, explained, “We’re fighting to say this isn’t over and there are still gains to be had.”
AFL-CIO leadership is much more of an ally of the Democratic Party than its rank and file, many of whom cast their lot with Trump in 2016, a large part of the reason that he defeated Hillary Clinton. Four states that Mitt Romney failed to carry in 2012 — Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin — Donald Trump did carry in 2016, thanks to his being able to pick up the “blue collar” vote that Romney could not. Trump’s reelection may very well depend on keeping these states in his column in 2020, but except for Ohio (which elected a Republican governor in this election to replace the RINO John Kasich), all three are now in the hands of a Democratic governor. A particularly unfortunate loss was the defeat of Scott Walker in Wisconsin.
Ohio is critical to Trump’s 2020 chances. No Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio. It has been the ultimate swing state (now generally called a “purple” state) ever since the Civil War. Governors have often been instrumental in helping their party’s candidate win the state because of the political organizations they have put together. In addition to Ohio, Republicans won in the swing states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and Florida.
Of course, electoral votes are won by winning some of these key states, but in states such as Pennsylvania, Republicans tend to win the rural areas (without Chicago, for example, Illinois would go Republican), and the Democrats win the cities. But in recent years, Democrats have increased their vote in the suburbs, at one time a bastion of strength for the GOP.
Republicans have also lost states over the past few decades that they used to win on a regular basis, such as California. The flood of immigration that turned California from red to purple, and finally, blue, has also taken its toll on Republican chances in places such as Colorado and Nevada. Republicans are becoming increasingly nervous about Texas, as the recent close contest for the Senate illustrated. Immigration threatens to move Arizona from the Republican column to the Democratic column.
This is the principal reason that Democrats are so fond of immigration. They need a supply of poor, low-income voters dependent upon the party of government — the Democrats. Unfortunately, many corporate Republicans and globalists also view high immigration levels as desirable, which explains much of the never-Trumpers within the Republican Party.
One ethnic group that is exhibiting signs of reducing its slavish devotion to the Democratic Party is African-Americans. A Rasmussen poll released on October 29 had Trump’s approval rating among black voters at an astounding 40 percent. Just a little over a year ago, the rating was a mere 15 percent. The good economy, with record-low unemployment rates among blacks, is one obvious explanation for this. Another possible reason is that while globalists and Democrats like immigration, many African-Americans hold a different view.
A reporter in Georgia approached a young black man on election day and was taken aback when the young man told the reporter that he was voting for Donald Trump. He explained that he liked Trump’s opposition to “open borders.” The young man added that he did not like illegal aliens voting in our elections, and he was quite adamant in arguing that it was wrong for illegal immigrants to use our welfare system.
Whether this rising support for Trump will actually translate into a marked increase in black support in 2020 is speculation. But in states such as Michigan and Florida it could be very important. Today, the Democratic Party could not win a national election without the almost monolithic support of black voters. That is why blacks who dare stray from the Democratic Party fold can expect severe criticism, and it explains the unfair vitriol leveled against such notable black political figures as Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain, and Dr. Ben Carson.
This potential loss of a good percentage of the black vote for the Democratic Party could radically change American politics.
For those who think this is impossible, it should be remembered that at one time, the Deep South was solidly Democratic, and African-Americans gave most of their support to the Republican Party. At one time, New England was the base of the Republican Party (Maine and Vermont were the only two states to vote Republican in the 1936 Roosevelt landslide).
We Need an Informed Electorate
Whether a person lives in solidly Republican Alabama or reliably Democratic California, that person needs to be an informed voter. Recent lamentations from the Left that the Republicans remain in the majority in the Senate, despite more votes being cast nationally for Democrat candidates, betrays a basic misunderstanding of the very purpose of government. Government does not exist to implement the will of the majority in all matters over the minority. The Founders believed, and Americans with basic moral standards should also believe, that the purpose of government is to protect an individual’s right to life, liberty, and property, rather than just provide for a way to implement the tyranny of the majority. That is why the Founders established a republic, not a democracy. When asked what type of government the men at the constitutional convention had given us, Benjamin Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” With a republic, we are in the business of respecting religious liberty, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. In a pure democracy, all of our rights are just up to a vote.
One important lesson that this election should teach us is that we must be wise, as well as sincere, in our efforts to keep our republican form of government. An idea that has been put forward as a way to “rein in” the out-of-control federal government is that of a national convention to consider amendments to the Constitution, also known as a convention of states, or a constitutional convention (Con-Con). While some conservatives have sincerely bought into this Con-Con, it is a terrible idea.
So far, all 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by Congress and ratified by the states. A second method, another constitutional convention, has never been used. In fact, James Madison, whose work on the Constitution was so great that he is often called “The Father of the Constitution,” expressed fear for the future of America if a second constitutional convention were ever held.
Basic logic should tell us that an American electorate that produced a House of Representatives like that given us via this past election is not going to produce delegates to a hypothetical constitutional convention that would be much different. Do we really want to take the chance of calling a convention now, and putting all of our rights up to a vote? As the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once said, this would be a bad century in which to write a new constitution.
Tinkering with the Constitution is fraught with peril, as with the recent push for a “National Popular Vote” to replace the Electoral College system of presidential election. The possibility of voter fraud in the midterms in places such as Florida only adds more evidence for keeping the Electoral College, which Founder Alexander Hamilton described as “excellent.” Under the Electoral College, vote fraud is troublesome, but can one imagine a presidential election, such as in 1960, when only about 100,000 votes separated Nixon and Kennedy? Considering the likelihood that several thousand (perhaps as many as 200,000) non-citizen aliens cast ballots in Florida, a national presidential election determined by a national popular vote, rather than a state-by-state popular vote, as with the present system, would be courting disaster. Does anyone really believe that in our present toxic political climate we could survive a national presidential election, determined by the national popular vote, with one candidate winning by anything less than hundreds of thousands of votes?
The composition of Congress illustrates how difficult it is for solid constitutionalists to get elected to Congress when the electorate is so badly uninformed in the basics of the very purpose of government. After all, many of the Democrats who were reelected or elected for the first time, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are out-and-out socialists. And many of the Republican members of Congress are neoconservatives, as opposed to constitutionalists. But that said, the Republicans defeated in the midterm elections were also generally neoconservative, an exception being David Brat of Virginia. Ultimately, to restore constitutional government and salvage our national independence and our freedoms, we need to create sufficient understanding and apply informed pressure on our elected officials.
This needs to be done every year, not just at election time. And we need to keep in mind that needed changes in the electorate will cause elected officials to improve in order to keep themselves in office. Sometimes, informed voters might have to replace incumbents who will not respect the foundational principles of our country. But other times, enough informed voters can persuade a member of Congress of the error of his or her ways.
For years, The John Birch Society and other patriotic organizations have promoted the cause of America First and opposed globalism, which paved the way for the election of Trump. If enough Americans are awakened through being better informed of the concepts of limited government, most politicians will respond favorably.
An informed electorate would call for turning less over to the government in Washington, and returning more activities back to the states, local communities, and individuals. There is no reason why greater population centers such as New York City and Chicago should be dictating social politics to farmers in Wyoming and Iowa. The Constitution gave us a federal republic, not a unitary democracy. The Founding generation seceded from the British Empire because they did not want to be ruled by a far-off distant government in London.
With all the violent mobs attacking public figures in restaurants and airports, and even at their homes, a restoration of allowing local communities to make most political decisions is the wiser course. As Jeff Deist of the Mises Institute recently said, “Federalism and subsidiarity, applied with increasing intensity, are the non-violent path forward. Insistence on universalism, decided by a slight majority and applied top-down from D.C., will fail here at home in the same way — and for the same reason — nation-building fails abroad.”
Elections are exciting, and at times, even exhilarating. But if Americans want to see our nation survive, with its independence intact and with our liberties secure, we cannot wait until election season to get active. Several good organizations exist, but The John Birch Society has had a proven program of success since 1958 of getting citizens informed and directing them into non-violent but effective action.
Elections alone will not solve our country’s problems. As Samuel Adams said, “It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”
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