With only 91 days until the 2018 midterm elections (and the unofficial start of the 2020 Presidential election!), I thought the dead of summer—when it’s 1,000 degrees under the Texas sun—was a good time to reflect on the upcoming election and what it means for the country. Not a deep dive into an interesting House race (although I can if you really, really want me to), but what this election might mean for the country and each side of the political battle.
In America-2, where President Hillary Clinton won Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by a combined 85,000 votes, Democrats are dejected and dispirited. Sure, the economy is still chugging along at a decent rate of growth. And of course, it was great to see Justice Garland sworn in, returning the Supreme Court to the center-left jurisprudence of the mid-20th century.
But what else is there? Endless hearings by House and Senate Republicans into [Insert Scandal Word]gate? Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell continue to block every piece of progressive legislation the White House proposes, and forcing President Clinton to accept half-half loafs or face monthly government shutdowns?
Democrats are tired of the trench warfare-like political climate, and energized Republicans are hoping to lock in their gerrymandered districts for another 12 years, winning enough Senate seats to overcome any filibuster Chuck Schumer proposes. And maybe, just maybe, when Chairman Gowdy finds those missing emails, they may get close enough to finally (finally!) impeach a Clinton.
Here in America-1, President Trump has managed to coarsen the political discourse while keeping the Republicans (who control Congress) in line. With Neil Gorsuch confirmed on the bench, and the upcoming hearings of appointee Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court is well-anchored to the right. Congress also passed large regressive tax cuts on the backs of health insurance for those having to enter into the federal or state exchanges.
The Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies continue to chip away at the regulatory progress made under the Obama administration, bringing the United States back to the Bush years. This wouldn’t be too bad if we could get back those 8+ years of climate change, and millions and millions of dollars millennials have paid to Sallie Mae (sorry, I mean, Navient) that they’re paying out in bonuses to executive and dividends to shareholders.
If you were one of the millions of Americans who, the day after the presidential election, feared that same-sex marriage, women’s reproductive rights, and a plethora of other important issues would vanish with the snap of a gold Infinity Gauntlet covered finger, maybe things aren’t as bad as you thought they’d be. But that’s a pretty low bar.
What’s at stake this November is the ability for Democrats to reestablish a balance in our federal system through their ability to perform oversight and control half of the legislative process. The ability to hold hearings and subpoena documents (to say nothing of the budget and appropriating process) will reduce the most feared executive excesses from becoming law and begin the process of returning the country to what will hopefully be a more civil and productive trajectory.
If you think the Democrats getting 218 votes will magically restore the country to way it was in the Obama era, then you need to wake up. The country is in for a long political journey stepping back from the abyss, but a Democratic majority is the first of what will be many steps to getting us there.