The Democrats will not take the House back this November, nor will they win enough seats to become a majority in the Senate. I make this prediction confidently but sadly, with the hope I will be wrong. By predicting losses, perhaps I will jinx the election and the Democrats will actually win. But no, I have seen my political party do some really stupid things over the years and this is simply another year of stupid.
If ever there was a time to win, it seems to be now. This horrible president and his millionaire minions and base iconoclasts have made a mockery of government, of decorum and dignity, of preserving the environment and of foreign affairs. You name it, they have messed it up. And now just the tip of a huge iceberg of corruption has been revealed. This should be easy but I fear that the Democrats will again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Why? It’s pretty easy, actually. Look at the recent record – Democrats haven’t exactly set the world on fire over the last couple of presidential terms. The “Hope and Change” of Barack Obama was meaningless. Oh we dared hope, kind of a lazy, useless concept anyhow, but very little change followed. Mr. Obama continued to represent big money, not the working person. He made deadly wrong decisions after the crash of 2008, doing all he could to rescue banks and corporations but very little to rescue everyday people. Under his watch the Afghan war continued and Guantanamo remained open, unions continued to die, wages continued to stagnate or even to diminish, the rich got richer and inequality dramatically increased. Working people felt ignored and forgotten by this president, but they reminded us that they were still alive and cared when they voted for Trump in 2016. Yes, Obama had dignity and class and in contrast to who now occupies the White House, we’re so thankful for that. But a president’s style and eloquence do not make the mortgage payments or put food on the table.
And “Stronger Together” Hillary was another dud. She had no direction, no underlying reason for running save the “glass ceiling”, and to so many voters, was just a continuation of the Obama emptiness. Moreover, she would have been an extension of husband Bill’s financial and corporate chumminess, which helped speed the downfall of unions and the rise of corporate power. Bill had wedded his party tightly to big money and Hillary followed suit. And most important, Hillary had no policy depth or breadth in her campaign and said absolutely nothing about strengthening unions, reining in big money and increasing taxes on corporations and billionaires. If the Democratic Party had allowed Bernie Sanders to be nominated, he would have become our president, not Trump, for he genuinely addressed the long neglected concerns of working families.
And look who’s leading our Democratic Party in Congress – Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. My God, did you ever see such an uninspiring pair? From their shaky introduction of their lame “Better Deal” program to their failure to address inequality issues and reshape their party in the formerly successful image of the American worker and farmer, they have been utter failures as leaders. These big money establishment Democrats have weakened the party, not strengthened it.
And the DNC and DCCC still haven’t seen the light and are still trying to run middle of the road Democrats that are not that different from their opponents. The success in Democratic primary elections of honest, passionate and compassionate candidates like New York’s Alexandria Occasio-Cortez and Florida’s gubernatorial primary winner, Andrew Gillum, still fails to register with the Democratic establishment. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is overjoyed to back Arizona’s moderate Kyrsten Sinema to take Jeff Flake’s Senate seat, but really she’s not so different from her Republican opponent, Martha McSally. Therefore, because the candidates are virtually indistinguishable except for the “D” or “R” after their names, Sinema, her dramatic personal story notwithstanding, will lose because Arizona is still very much an “R” state. If Sinema had the political convictions of an Occasio-Cortez or a Gillum, to go along with her story, she would win.
Another reason that Republicans will win is that voting is still rigged in their favor. Since Trump was elected by narrow majorities in key states which tipped the infamous electoral college in his direction, has it become any easier to vote? No, many states continue to be hopelessly gerrymandered, which our Supreme Court has refused ruling upon, while upholding efforts to restrict the Voting Rights Act and to purge voter rolls of people who have chosen not to vote in recent elections. Some states continue to require picture ID’s while others have cancelled early voting or same day registration. Others have outmoded voting machinery in place that is vulnerable to hacking or other abuse. None of this bodes well for Democrats because the voter groups affected by these repression efforts are those that lean Democratic – black, Hispanic, immigrants and the poor.
Ah, and then there is the simple but crucial issue of money. In short, the Republicans have the billionaires and the Democrats do not. Democratic candidates who have famously relied on individual donations rather than corporate super PAC money will soon drain the well. If I am any kind of example, I am completely tapped out and can no longer respond to the literally hundreds of email solicitations from many Democratic candidates which have cluttered and clogged my inbox. Citizens like me, barely clinging to middle class status, simply do not have the money to continue contributing to candidates, no matter how worthy.
But the billionaires whose last minute infusion of millions of dollars put Trump narrowly over the top in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, awarding him the electoral vote, have plenty of money and are still hard at work. Don’t think for a minute that the recent kerfuffle between the Koch network and the Trump administration will reduce the flood of money being poured into the Republican side of these midterm elections. The stream has not been reduced one single bit, but has instead increased. The Koch network pledged 400 million dollars for the midterms. That’s not changed and has been augmented by other billionaires not now in the Koch mix.
And guess what – the Republican tax cut for the rich and for corporations will considerably increase the dollars contributed to support Republican candidates. The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC closely aligned with Paul Ryan, is flush with contributions. Sheldon Adelson, whose company reported a nearly $700 million windfall from the tax law, has contributed $30 million; Timothy Mellon of Pan Am Systems, another Republican tax cut beneficiary, has tossed in $24 million, and the list goes on. Dark money spending has more than doubled over the same period during the 2014 midterms and is responsible for roughly two thirds of pro-Republican television ads. Conservative leaning groups, including the Koch supported advocacy groups, Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America, account for four out of the five biggest secret-money advertisers. Democratic candidates simply cannot match this kind of money and the result will be more Republican wins and Democratic losses.
Another reason that the Republicans will retain their majority in the House of Representatives and in the Senate is that the Trump economy, whether he is responsible for it or not, is doing very well. Remember the old campaign quote, “It’s the economy, stupid”. Like it or not, the economy has always been the most important factor in election years. When things are relatively good, which they are now, voters are more complacent and do not feel the urgency to vote. And now, with unemployment at a decades low and with workers still failing to realize that the Republican tax cut was not really for them but for corporations and the wealthy, people will simply not bother to vote. There is little reason, Trump’s character, corruption and chaos notwithstanding, for people to come out in droves and vote to change anything. This midyear election will remain typical, with less than half of qualified voters participating, as usual. And this spells doom for the Democrats, who cannot win without markedly increased voter involvement.
And while there is no economic urgency to drive Democratic voters to the polls in November of 2018, there is considerable urgency of another kind for Republicans. A Democratic House will have subpoena power. Trump’s tax returns will be opened for all of us to see. Our president will be revealed as the corrupt crook he is and we can finally see why he is so enamored of Russia. A recent revelation by AXIOS of a spreadsheet being circulated among Congressional Republicans which lists potential investigations should Democrats take the house, will galvanize Republican donors to increase their contributions and congressional Republicans to redouble their efforts to retain their seats. When you’re cornered or your back is to the wall, you fight more fiercely. The threat of these disclosures will result in more Republicans coming to the polls in November, not more Democrats.
And finally, Democrats will not take back the House this fall because of the powerful voices of the pro Trump media. First, the network that has truly become “state television”, Fox News, now augmented by Salem Radio and Sinclair Broadcasting, will continue to back Trump and the Republican Party to the hilt, no matter what. And these voices completely drown out the less strident corporate opposition voice of MSNBC and the middle of the road noise from CNN and the other networks. And nobody much watches the most honest and factual news program on television – Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now”.
And one final comment. For those Democrats who think that the recent revelations of more Trump associated corruption will sway voters, think again. The more bad stuff that is revealed, the more the Republican Party closes ranks around Trump and his approved candidates. So the president is not only a corrupt liar but also an “unindicted co-conspirator”? Well, we voters still have jobs, our 401K’s are doing great, we still have our iPhones, get any news we want from Facebook and can still go out and have fun, so who cares?
Traditionally the party out of power has always done well in the midterm elections. But like everything else in Washington, this time it will be different. And again, concerning everything I have written above, I fervently hope that I’m wrong.