Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A blue wave headed for the most consequential election of our times

It’s time for some good news as we head into 2018 and the November elections. Here’s one from the 538 significant digits email.

20 House seats
Democrats are likely to be competitive in the 2018 midterm elections this November. All but 20 House seats held by Republicans have at least one Democratic candidate filed to run in the district. Contrast that to the 80 Democrats who don’t have a Republican opponent yet. [The New York Times]

A blue wave in 2018?

Those stats might be an indicator of the rumored (reported, suspected, anticipated) blue wave. Here’s more from a story appearing in yesterday’s Arizona Daily Star, As 2017 ends, Republicans struggle to counter a potential Democratic wave. Here are snippets.

The clock is ticking on the Republican majority in Congress: The GOP has slightly more than 10 months to avoid a rout in 2018.

Republicans could do it. They have time and several important factors on their side: a good economy, low crime rates, achievements of significance to the party’s followers.

Nevertheless, as 2017 closes, almost all signs point to big Democratic gains next year, largely driven by President Trump’s widespread unpopularity. And some of the pugnacious instincts that helped the president win election a year ago may now be worsening his party’s predicament.

Trump has “terrible numbers,” Democrats have a large advantage in polls, and “it all adds up to a really rough midterm” for the GOP, [RealClearPolitics pollster Sean] Trende says.

Throughout the year, opposition to Trump has generated energy among Democrats. But something new has been added to the mix in recent months, said Joe Trippi, the veteran Democratic consultant who served as media strategist for Doug Jones’ upset Senate election this month in Alabama.

“The sense of chaos, the constant fight, fight, fight and alarm bells going off all the time” has deeply troubled voters, including many who backed Trump last year, Trippi said. “There’s this sense of being on edge,” which Alabamians talked about frequently, Trippi said. “That’s what they don’t want anymore.”

If a year of Trump has put voters in the mood for less confrontation, that poses a big challenge for Republicans.

“I don’t know how you stop Donald Trump from putting people on edge,” Trippi said. “That’s what he does.”

Admitted, Trump’s pugnaciousness feeds his most strident supporters but “voter anxiety has come up repeatedly in focus groups around the country.”

2017, a year of Trump, is made for messaging. Dems can start by recasting “drain the swamp”, the loss of government employees from EPA for example, as ultimately wasteful and harmful incompetent governance. The tax cut bill has bennies for the rich but does little for those anxious voters - other than threaten their health care and social safety, programs they care deeply about.

Enough already

The time is here to channel that voter anxiety into electoral change. E. J. Dione (Washington Post) has a New Years message: This new year, tell Trump: Enough. Snippets follow.

With New Year’s resolutions and almost everything else in life, it’s essential — and often extremely difficult — to set priorities. This applies especially to politics, now dominated by the provocations and outrages that emanate daily from President Trump and his White House.

In 2018, Trump’s abuses of power, his indifference to truth and his autocratic habits will be the central issues in our politics. Nothing else comes close.

This means there is no more vital business than containing Trump and, if circumstances demand it, removing him from office. This applies not only to progressives and liberals but also to everyone else, from left to right, who would defend our democratic values and republican institutions.

This may sound obvious, but it’s not. Among Democrats, there are often irresistible temptations to fight internal battles in preparation for 2020: Clinton people vs. Bernie people, the center-left vs. the left, the market-friendlies vs. the social democrats and democratic socialists.

… With special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation under constant threat from Trump’s apologists, solidarity among his opponents is imperative. This is all the more pressing in the face of the Republican leadership’s shameful cowering before a president who is perpetually in search of loyalty and sycophantic praise.

Trump, not some ingenious new policy, will be the issue on voters’ minds, and opposition to him will be the most powerful force pushing voters to the polls. Yes, progressives should talk about Trump policies they would try to check or roll back — beginning with the GOP’s egregious tax giveaway — and work to make their ideas on health care, jobs, infrastructure, the environment and education more persuasive. But the point of 2018 is to meet the emergency this presidency has created.

Let’s not shilly-shally about this. To truly check Trump, Democrats will need to win elections in usually unfriendly territory. As my loyally Republican Post colleague Michael Gerson wrote recently, Republican politicians will abandon Trump only “if they see it as in their self-interest.” For this to happen, they will have “to watch a considerable number of their fellow Republicans lose.”

What deserves rebuke is the obsequiousness of the current Republican political leadership toward Trump as well as the indifference of the president’s protectors to the rule of law. Their willingness to pile falsehood upon falsehood in his defense amounts to a war on the basic requirements of reasoned debate in a free society.

Friends of republican democracy are called upon to set aside their differences to resist the corruption of presidential authority, to stand up for truth,and to insist that Trump be held accountable.

The priority of 2018 is for our nation to rise up and say: Enough.

We need to do that starting right now …

… because 2018 is consequential.

Trump and his GOP lackeys are not likely to stop their destructive rampage through our democracy. Speaker Paul Ryan, for example, intends to launch an attack on the social safety net, an assault as brutal and uncaring as never before seen. Salon.com reports Paul Ryan aims for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security cuts in 2018. Ryan cited debt concerns as the reason for spending cuts, days after GOP passes tax plan projected to hike deficit.

After the trillion dollar budget busting tax bill, you could well remark “he must be kidding.” Save your words. He’s not.

There has been one inescapable question surrounding the newly passed GOP tax plan: Who will pay for it? The answer is actually not complicated, because top Republicans have already told everyone.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who has long dedicated his career to drawing ire over the ever-rising national debt and deficit, has made lobbying for cuts a big part of his legislative agenda.

Days before the House version of the tax plan under President Donald Trump’s administration passed, Ryan was well aware of the hit the deficit would take as a result. In fact, he already had a plan in place to help fix the problem his party deliberately intended to create: spending cuts and welfare reform.

That’s a nice way to put it.

It became quite obvious that social safety net programs had been put in the crosshairs, and … only days after the Senate tax plan passed, Ryan confirmed as much.

“We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said during an interview on Ross Kaminsky’s radio show, The Washington Post reported. “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”

Another way to look at the trillion dollar deficit hit is as a contrived justification for what Ryan has wanted to do all along. Take away benefits from the middle class and channel them to the rich. That’s a page out of Ryan’s heroine, Ayn Rand, using the public good to reward the most wealthy and powerful.

You might think that 2017 was a major turning point. It was not. That election, of Donald Trump, was merely symptomatic of the forces that drove a Republican majority in congress. In 2018, we face a much more important decision about the future of our country. Increasingly there is a sense that like never before America is now locked in a struggle for its soul. It is likely that we cannot now vote Trump out of office, but we can remove from office those in congress who enable Trump’s horror show. Thus, the 2018 election is truly consequential.

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