2016 Recap

30 Dec

2016 has been a strange and disappointing year.  Donald Trump was elected president.  Senate Republicans blocked President Obama from appointing someone to the Supreme Court.  We lost many great people including John Glenn, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Muhammad Ali, among many others.  I wish I could be more optimistic for what lies ahead next year.

We have a president-elect who hasn’t changed much since he was elected.  Many presidents surround themselves with the best and brightest.  Donald Trump is surrounding himself with incompetent people and ideologues.  I think Trump will run into some opposition with some of his picks to help run the government.

I am however optimistic that we may finally be able to get an infrastructure bill passed.  The Democrats are willing to work with Trump on some issues and I hope they do.  I do however want the Democrats to fight Trump like hell on any of his extreme policy ideas.  Trump has said that he wants to tear up the Iran Deal and the Paris Climate Change deal.  That will not be as easy as he thinks.  Both deals are multi-national agreements.  The Paris Climate Change deal will expire in November 2020… at the end of Trumps first (and hopefully only) term.

The Republicans have an easier senate election map in 2018, but that doesn’t guarantee anything.  The president’s party usually loses seats in midterm elections.  (Recent exceptions being 1998 and 2002.)  It will also be interesting to see how Speaker Ryan and incoming Senate Minority leader Schumer will work with the president-elect.  House Speaker Paul Ryan will have to deal with the Tea Party wing, moderate wing, and the Trump supporters in his party.  Senator Schumer will lead the opposition as well as prepare his members for 2018.

Donald Trump will get a rude awakening next year, as with his supporters.  Governing is not as easy as Trump made it sound during the campaign.  Congress is very good at blocking legislation.  The presidents who have been able to get things done legislatively have either been insiders or have friends in congress.  Trump is no insider and he only has a small handful of supporters in congress.  I think Trump supporters will give him a lot of leeway, but they will turn on him if he doesn’t deliver on something.

Running the government is not like running a business.  Governor Rauner of Illinois hasn’t been able to pass his agenda through the Illinois legislature and he is a former businessman.  Trump will not be able to get everything he wants done.  If he tries to push congress around he won’t be able to get much done.  President-elect Trump has already faced several challenges in picking a cabinet.  If he is having this much trouble picking people to be in his administration, he will have a tough time running his administration.

Advertisements

Aftermath

30 Nov

The Democrats lost an election they should have won.  The Senate lead for the Republicans had narrowed and a Republican will be president despite the Democrat winning more popular votes.  No I’m not talking about this past election I am referring to the 2000 election.  I bring this up because history has a tendency to repeat itself.  I am also saying this to people who were as disappointed as I was by the election results.

Before I went to bed on election night I learned that Hillary Clinton had called president-elect Donald Trump to concede the election.  Like most of the country I was stunned.  What caused him to win in an upset?  Hillary Clinton did not do enough to win over working class people.  She expected to win Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania instead of campaigning hard to win them.  The WikiLeaks hack and the DNC favoring her over Bernie in the primaries also cost her.  Her email scandal and the FBI announcement weeks before the election didn’t help.  We won’t know all of the reasons why she lost for a while but what I mentioned covers the bulk of it.

The Democrats are in a bind.  They lost senate races that they were favored to win.  Donald Trump will get to appoint at least one Supreme Court justice because the Republicans blocked President Obama’s appointment to the Supreme Court.  The Democrats have several options, fight, compromise, or do both.   My hope is that the Democrats don’t obstruct the way the Republicans did under Obama.  Trump says he wants to get infrastructure spending done.  If he wants to get it done, the Democrats should work with him on it.  There has also been bipartisan talk about investigating the Russians trying to influence our election.

I do think they should fight Trump on his extreme proposals.  Donald Trump has said that he wants to create a Muslim registry.  If he tries to implement that I hope that the Democrats and at least some Republicans will block it.  If the Republicans try to privatize Medicare or Social Security I hope the Democrats block it from happening.  I do however want to see the government fully functional with a long-term budget getting passed and not temporary stopgap measures like we have seen in recent years.

The next four years will be interesting to say the least.  The mid-term elections are only 2 years away.  Keep your head up Democrats and get your act together. Otherwise it is going to be a very long four years.

The Home Stretch

31 Oct

We are in the home stretch of the presidential election.  The candidates are making their final arguments to the voters and early voting is happening as we speak.  This election is important, but also a disappointing one.  With less than two weeks until the general election we have two most unpopular candidates in modern history.  In this presidential race we have reached the bottom.

In the beginning of the month an old tape of Donald Trump was released where he admitted to sexual harassment at the very least and sexual assault at worst.  The Access Hollywood tape has effectively ended the presidential race.  Republicans have finally condemned him and some have rescinded their condemnation of him.  The damage has been done.  After he got the nomination I thought that he had a slim chance of winning because of his tendency to act like a toddler.  The Access Hollywood tape has put his campaign in jeopardy and may even put the House Republican majority in jeopardy.

Republicans running for the House and Senate are in a bind.  Congressmen Joe Heck of Nevada is running for the U.S. Senate in Nevada.  His previous support for Trump may cost the Republicans a chance at picking up a senate seat.  Some Republicans are at risk of losing support if they abandon Trump.  What you are seeing happening right now is exactly what Republican insiders were afraid of when Trump announced his run last year.  He is damaging Republicans down ticket.

After the 2012 election the Republicans did an analysis on why they lost.  Although Romney won a high percentage of the white vote he lost women and Hispanics which cost Romney the election.  The Republican Party vowed change to appeal to more voters, but nominating Trump has done the opposite.  Trump is on track to get a lower vote of Hispanics than Romney did and Trump’s comments on women will cause him to lose a majority of the female vote.  The Republican establishment wanted to pass an immigration bill but they were unable to get it through the House of Representatives because Tea Party Republicans objected to it.

What happens after the election is somewhat uncertain.  If Trump loses (which he likely will) he will leave the Republican Party in ruins.  Trump’s supporters will probably blame a rigged system as well as the base of the Republican Party for not supporting Trump.  The Republican base will blame Trump and rightfully so for blowing a winnable election.  None of this had to happen.  If the Republicans nominated John Kasich or almost any other Republican candidate they would be leading Hillary Clinton.  The Republican Party will need to quell the talks of the election being rigged.

I will close my final blog before the election with this.  Please vote.  It is one of the most important things you can do as a citizen.  Go to www.ballotready.org and research candidates positions on the election and find your polling place.

An Unusual Election

30 Sep

After three essentially two-party candidate elections we are seeing something somewhat different this time around.  We still have the two dominate parties but this time we have four main candidates.  The obvious two are Clinton and Trump, the other main candidates are Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.  This is happening because of the unpopularity of the top two candidates.  I don’t think the third party candidates will make a significant difference on Election Day but it makes things more interesting.

As the race stands right now Hillary Clinton has a slight edge among the top two candidates.  Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is running a distant third while Jill Stein is in fourth.  Gary Johnson is benefiting from Trump and Clinton’s unpopularity by taking away votes from them.  Jill Stein is taking some votes away from Clinton but it won’t be enough to swing the election.  There are some Republicans who will be voting for Gary Johnson because they despise Donald Trump.  It could be enough to give the election to Hillary Clinton.

The 1912 presidential election Teddy Roosevelt, a former Republican ran third party.  The split in the Republican Party helped elect Woodrow Wilson.  In the 1948 election, Strom Thurmond a Dixiecrat took away votes from president Truman in the general election.  President Truman defeated his main opponent Thomas Dewey in an upset even with Thurmond siphoning votes from Truman.  In 1992 Ross Perot helped elect Bill Clinton.  In 2000, Ralph Nader took away enough votes that it cost Al Gore the election.  I’m not saying that a third party candidate guarantees that they will play the spoiler, but it definitely can be a factor.

The other unusual thing we will likely see this year are Republicans voting for Gary Johnson for president and voting for Republican candidates down ballot.  The U.S. Senate races are tight with the Democrats having a slight advantage.  If there ends up being a landslide for Hillary the House of Representatives might be in play for the Democrats.  At this point it is possible but not likely.  The Democrats need to gain four senate seats to win the majority, five if Hillary Clinton doesn’t win.  My next update will give a clearer picture of who will win the election.

Return of the Moderates?

28 Aug

Beginning with the 2010 primaries, some moderate Republicans lost to their Tea Party opponents.  Some Tea Party candidates won the general election that year but many in the U.S. Senate elections lost.  In 2012 Tea Party candidates again cost Republicans the chance to take back the Senate.  In 2014 the Republicans either marginalized their extremists, or had some of their candidates hide their previous views.  They won back the Senate that year.  This doesn’t mean the Tea Party is done for but they are still being marginalized and sometimes rejected from their own party.

The Republican Party has an identity crisis.  Part of the party still wants to pass immigration reform while the other part of the party wants to deport all immigrants.  Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President because of the anti-immigration part of the Republican Party.  Republican insiders are panicked because they know that pissing off the Hispanic population is a recipe for disaster in a national election.  (Just ask Mitt Romney and Sharon Angle)  If the Republicans lose in a landslide in November the party leaders will get the message but some in their party will continue to be opposed to immigration reform.

Utah Senator Mike Lee took a hit in the polls for supporting the 2013 government shutdown.  He has since joined with Democrats to fight for a Criminal justice reform bill.  Mike Lee’s change in tone was somewhat of a surprise, but some of the most surprising political news came in an election primary in the state of Kansas recently.  One of the most Conservative members of congress Tim Huelskamp lost his primary in Kansas by 16 points.  He clashed with John Boehner when Boehner was the Speaker.  Boehner removed him from the Agriculture Committee which is a crucial committee to be on when you represent a rural state like Kansas.  His inability to work with either party was his downfall.  One voter outlined why he voted against Huelskamp in the primary.  “Getting kicked off the Agricultural Committee is a crime that can’t be forgiven.  I don’t mind the independent voice, but you’ve got to figure out how to work with people.  (NY times “Tim Huelskanp, Anti-Establishment House Republican, Loses Primary in Kansas.”)

Congressman Tim Huelskamp lost in a wave election in Kansas that ousted conservatives across the state.  Kansas governor Sam Brownback has caused massive budget problems for his state, and has endangered some Kansas Republicans in the process.  Last election cycle, an independent came within striking distance of winning one of the two U.S. Senate seats.  Brownback was lucky to get re-elected in 2014.  Governor Brownback’s budget cuts could cause permanent damage to his party in Kansas.

Elections have consequences.  Kansas has already seen some of that.  I don’t know what will happen in the election this year but the Republicans are worried about Donald Trump’s impact on congressional senate races.  In a way they are in a lose-lose situation.  If Trump wins he could cause permanent damage to the party if he loses he could cost them control of the U.S. Senate.

 

  1. New York Times, “Tim Huelskamp, Anti-Establishment House Republican, Loses Primary in Kansas.”http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/03/us/politics/tim-huelskamp-roger-marshall-kansas-primary.html?_r=0

Faux Patriots

31 Jul

The DNC and RNC conventions were the past two weeks.  We saw hope and optimism from the Democrats and more fear-mongering from Republicans.  How did we get to this?  We used to have two different but sensible political parties.  Shutdowns or threat of a government shutdown use to be almost non-existent.  Now they are the norm.  The Republican Party values use to be small government, limited to non- intervention in foreign wars, and prided itself on being a big tent party.  Those days are long gone.

I am a Democrat.  I have voted for Democratic candidates in pretty much every election.  I have never been a Republican but there used to be people in the Republican Party I respected.  Most of the Republicans I respected have either left the party or lost reelection.  The Republicans had people who stood for Civil Rights like Senators Everett Dirksen and Nelson Rockefeller.  Now they have politicians like Senator Jeff Sessions and congressman Steve King who………

Fear mongering and hate have taken over the Republican Party and this began before Donald Trump officially became their party’s nominee for president last week.  After the Civil Rights Act passed, the Republicans used the Southern Strategy (which is?) to take back the south.  Fear and hatred were used to rile up people when talking about immigration.  The RNC convention in particular last week seemed free of any facts.  Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the country and build a wall along the southern border.  Discouraging immigration is not patriotic, it is denying who we are as a country.

The Republicans have embraced Trump as their nominee and are denying what this country is made from.  The United States was founded to escape religious intolerance and we were built by immigrants.   We keep hearing Republicans refer to “real Americans” and say that they want to take their country back.  Oh, back to where or from whom?  The ideals of America don’t come from a small group of people; they come from everyone in the country and the Constitution from which it was designed. Fareed Zakaria referred to this on his show when he said about Conservatives,

 

They are misty-eyed in their devotion to a distant republic of myth and memory and yet they are passionate in their dislike of the messy, multiracial, capitalist-and-welfare-state democracy that America actually has been for half a century – a fifth of this country’s history. At some point, will they come to realize that you cannot love America in theory and hate it in fact?

 

I think it is time for Republicans to realize that American and Americans have changed.  If they are unable to realize this, then hopefully they will in November.

 

  1.  Zakaria: Can Conservatives love ‘real america’

http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/10/21/zakaria-can-conservatives-love-real-america/

Demagogues

30 Jun

During the 1900’s we saw the best and worst of America.  We had great leaders like FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy among others.  We also had dangerous people or people with dangerous ideas who ran for president or sought power.  People like father Coughlin, George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, and Huey Long.  As a country we have repeatedly rejected the extremists that attempt to gain power.

In the 1930’s people were afraid.  The Great Depression had ruined many people financially and threatened us as a country.  We elected a strong leader to get us through the crisis.  Father Coughlin rose to prominence shortly after FDR was elected.  While he was originally a supporter of FDR he became an opponent of him during FDR’s first term.  Father Coughlin later supported fascism and anti-Antisemitism.  He eventually lost support of the radio stations and was off the air before the end of WW2.  FDR helped end his career.

Huey Long was another supporter of FDR early on and he also turned against him.  Although he was a Democrat Long was never able to gain as much traction as FDR had.  Huey Long was an economic populist who planned on taking on FDR for his re-election in 1936.  Huey Long was shot and killed in 1935.  If he had lived it was unlikely he would have beaten FDR in the primary but he still would have made a major impact on American Politics.

In the 1960’s George Wallace was the governor of Alabama.  He was well-known for his staunch pro-segregationist stance.  Wallace had considerable support among Dixiecrats but he was unable to ever get the Democratic nomination for president.  President Lyndon Johnson stood against him by signing into law the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  This caused an eventual splinter in the Democratic Party with some Democrats becoming Republicans over the issue of Civil Rights.  The Democrats largely rejected and marginalized George Wallace.

The reason I bring these examples up are because the Republican Party has failed to do what the Democratic Party has done in the past which is marginalize dangerous or extremist presidential candidates in their party.  The Republican Party might not like Ted Cruz or Donald Trump but they did very little to stop them from becoming front-runners.  The Republicans didn’t take Trump seriously until it was too late.  The only thing the Republicans can do now is that Trump gets defeated in a landslide in November.  If that were to happen then they can go to the extremists in their party and tell them that you can’t win an election with a candidate like Donald Trump.