The 'Trump Effect' and the 2018 midterm elections
By Mark Alexander
In the 2016 presidential election, what put Donald Trump over the top was middle America's disgust with the status quo in Washington, both Democrat and Republican. Grassroots Americans from all walks of life, who have been used, abused and discarded by both political parties, sent Donald J. Trump to DC with a mission — to drop a bomb on both the political and bureaucratic entrenchments.
He did, and there's plenty of fallout — most good and some not so good.
While the results have been positive for working Americans — those who sent Trump to DC — positive results are big political negatives for the Democrat Party, and Democrats are determined to dwell on the negatives from now until November.
Is it too early to contemplate the 2018 midterm elections?
Part of that collusion reflects their virtually indistinguishable ideology, but the perpetual election cycle — propagated by the mainstream media's 24/7/365 endless loop of talkinghead political hyperbole — is also their most significant revenue generator, flooding their coffers with advertising and donor dollars.
I mention this to say that 99% of the media's political chatter, which converts even the most mundane political claptrap into a "Breaking News Alert," is still just claptrap.
However, now that 2018 is here, let's take a serious reading from the political balance sheets to get some sense of Republican congressional opportunities and obstacles under Trump — beginning with the negatives on the left side of the ledger.
Democrats, unhinged over Hillary Clinton's electoral loss, immediately claimed that she actually won the election because she got almost 2.9 million more votes than Trump. Of course, that claim can be chalked up entirely to Clinton's more than 4.2 million-vote margin in one state, California — to say nothing of her votes stolen from Bernie Sanders.
Fortunately, as legal and judicial scholar Hans von Spakovsky argued before the 2016 election, the Electoral College ensures that California does not run the nation.
But the second part of the "Clinton won" argument has been the most perilous for the Trump administration and Republicans.
Days after her defeat, the Democrats claimed collusion between Trump and Vladimir Putin, and they made that spurious claim the centerpiece of their effort to delegitimize Trump's victory. So far, they've managed to get a lot of mileage out of that charade, compliments of their media outlets and a flood of fake news. They also received a lot of help from Clinton's billionaire socialist backers.
But it was only after the May 2017 appointment of the once well-regarded former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special prosecutor to investigate Trump that the claims began to lose traction.
Three months after Mueller's appointment, serious questions about who crafted the Russia collusion setup finally surfaced. And it wasn't until November, a long year after the claims first surfaced, that it became apparent that it was Hillary Clinton and her Democrat operatives who actually funded the Russian Fusion Collusion Delusion. Moreover, it was propagated with the assistance of Barack Obama's deep state operatives within the Department of Justice and FBI.
Of course, Mueller can take his investigation anywhere he wants, and he will. But a proper investigation would instead reset its focus onto Clinton and the FBI's political efforts to undermine Trump while Mueller's FBI protégé, James Comey, was at the helm. Let's just say we're not holding our breath.
So, while that investigation continues, what's the Democrats' backup strategy to undermine Trump/Republican favorability ratings across the nation ahead of the midterm elections?
Recall, if you will, that female majorities have elected every Democrat president since 1960 and have been a major force in midterm elections.
Thus, inciting female voter outrage to overturn Republican majorities in 2018 is a powerful and likely possibility.
Democrats are counting on their perennial political calculus that a majority of female voters are emotionally incontinent dupes and do not have the discernment to avoid being co-opted by emotive appeals. Thus, they're going to make the "epidemic of sexual assault" the centerpiece of the 2018 and 2020 elections, and they'll float candidates like Oprah Winfrey to make their case.
Call it the "Roy Moore Strategy."
All the sketchy Trump sexual harassment claims and his admittedly offensive remarks about women will be revisited ad nauseam in an effort to coerce Republicans in the House and Senate to distance their campaigns from the president — and his agenda. The Democrats' strategy, as noted at the outset, is to turn Trump's positives into negatives and, in effect, campaign against peace and prosperity — against Making America Great Again.
Along the way, they'll endeavor to portray Trump as "mentally unfit," accusing him of being, well, crazy. (What does it say about the state of the Democrat Party when it loses the presidency to a man who's "mentally unfit"?) Trump, however, is a New Yorker, and he's always acted like a New Yorker — brash, boastful and utterly unpredictable. In this respect, he's "crazy" by their hypersensitive, Chardonnay-sipping standards.
Trump entered office with almost no experience in political protocols, and he's unorthodox by virtually every Beltway standard. And while he isn't crazy, he is driving Democrats crazy. Indeed, Trump Derangement Syndrome is just the latest manifestation of the well-documented pathology of the Left.
Democrat prospects are bolstered by the fact that 36 GOP House members are vacating their seats, but they have a long, uphill battle to retake the House. Retaking the razor-thin Senate majority is also possible, but Democrats are defending 25 seats this cycle, while Republicans are defending just eight.
Democrats dare not again underestimate Trump's tell-it-like-it-is bravado — the bomb dropper — which won him the support of many grassroots Americans and disaffected blue-collar voters. Republicans seeking office in 2018 had also better take note.
Despite all the noise marking Trump's first year in office, the results have been impressive. Consequently, the positives on the right side of the ledger are a clear indication of what Democrats are up against — and what Republicans can successfully run on.
To recap in more detail, some of the Trump Effect positives I highlighted in "Year One of Making America Great Again, here's what Democrat Party hopefuls are facing ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
GDP topped 3% for the last two quarters of 2017. (In the 32 quarters of Obama's "recovery," only twice did he register a GDP of 3% or better.)
American businesses have created more than 1.7 million new jobs, including almost 160,000 manufacturing jobs and another 58,000 in mining and logging. And the number of illegal immigrants vying for American jobs, and at the same time lowering American wages, has declined significantly. (Illegal border crossings are now at a 45-year low.)
The headline unemployment rate of 4.1% is the lowest mark in 17 years, though I note this benchmark with caution as there are many Americans who had to take subsistence jobs or had given up on looking for work over the previous eight years. The real unemployment rate is closer to 8%, though that is down 2% in the last year. Unemployment declined for workers of all educational levels.
As the Trump-hating Washington Post declared in a headline: "Trump's first year jobs numbers were very, very good."
For the record, those bold black Americans who voted for Trump have been vindicated: The jobless rate for black workers dropped to the lowest level since 1972.
And "food stamp" rolls declined by more than two million in 2017.
Our economy, refueled in large part by enthusiasm for the future, is once again growing. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index is at a 17-year high, and the National Association of Manufacturers' Outlook Index is at its highest annual average in its history. Manufacturing orders and production are the strongest since 2004.
Even The New York Times has had to acknowledge, "A wave of optimism has swept over American business leaders, and it is beginning to translate into the sort of investment in new plants, equipment and factory upgrades that bolsters economic growth, spurs job creation — and may finally raise wages significantly." (One can only imagine the gnashing of teeth that took place prior to publishing that single sentence.)
The prospects of continued growth are being supercharged by the Republican passage of tax reform, Donald Trump's signature agenda achievement. The package includes $1.5 trillion in tax cuts — almost 60% to families, most of whom will now be able to file their IRS return on a single page.
Of course, undermining the Democrats' power to tax and spend is resulting in outrage and spurious claims of impending doom. Reducing Democrats' ability to seize and redistribute income undermines the greatest power they have. But despite all their hyperbolic exhalation about "ransacking the middle class" and only "benefiting the rich," Republicans might remind them that at one time, the Democrats' most revered leaders understood the benefits of lowering taxes.
John F. Kennedy, arguing for tax cuts in 1963, proclaimed, "It is increasingly clear that no matter what party is in power ... an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenues to balance our budget just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits." On the relationship between taxes, income and revenue, JFK noted, "It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now. ... A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget. ... As the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues. ... A rising tide lifts all boats."
The positive effects of the Republican tax cuts are just beginning to emerge.
More than 100 companies have already announced that they're providing bonuses and/or offering higher wages and improved benefits for their employees. And a new study finds that more than a million workers will receive wage increases — and many more to come. Even utility companies announced rate cuts for customers based on tax savings.
The Republican tax reform measures also repealed the so-called "Affordable Care Act" individual mandate, which has been an onerous burden on many individuals and families. At the same time, the Trump administration is proposing rule changes that will extend health care options for 11 million uninsured.
Economic growth will be boosted by record cuts in government regulations and new accountability measures. The Trump administration eliminated 22 regulations for each new one enacted, and Trump signed 15 Congressional Review Act resolutions into law, more than any other president. Regulations are now at the lowest count since such recordkeeping began in the mid-1970s.
The rogue Environmental Protection Agency, which was weaponized by Democrats to control and micromanage economic development, is being reined in, including a 50% cut in staff scheduled over the next three years.
Trump has unleashed energy development to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign energy sources.
And the so-called "Consumer Financial Protection Bureau" is now under Republican management.
On the coattails of the U.S. economic recovery, the global economy grew at a faster rate than it has since 2011. That's American leadership. The Trump administration has worked to close hundreds of billions in deals to sell American products abroad. And in recent months, foreign companies have announced $50 billion in new U.S. projects.
Trump is also putting American workers first by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, working to modify NAFTA, and saying farewell to the utopian socialists' so-called "climate change" treaty.
While economic strength certainly bolsters Liberty, Trump's nomination of more than 70 conservative federal judges, including that of now-Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch for the seat vacated by the revered late Justice Antonin Scalia, has been a critical step to ensuring Liberty for the next generation. Republicans confirmed a record-setting 12 conservative federal circuit judges.
The Trump administration is also implementing measures to restore law and order, further dismantling organized crime, combating the opioid crisis, aiding local police and confronting human trafficking.
A strong economy also bolsters national security.
The year in foreign policy has been favorable, unless you're an adversary of the United States. The most notable advances in U.S. national security interests would certainly include Trump's confrontation of China's nuclear puppet, North Korea and Kim Jong-un.
Just a few short years ago, we heard that "al-Qa'ida is on the run." And when that proved untrue, we heard that "we've contained them." Today, however, we can truthfully report that al-Qa'ida's bloodier successor, the Islamic State, founded in effect by Obama and Clinton, is really on the run, having been largely eradicated from its rat holes in Iraq and Syria. However, so-called "lone wolf" Islamist sympathizers remain a daunting threat to Western Europe and the U.S.
Furthermore, there are emerging democracy movements around the world fueled by the knowledge that they will now have U.S. support. The most notable movement now underway is that challenging the terrorist-sponsoring Islamist theocracy of Iran.
Democrats have thus far failed to derail Trump's "Make America Great Again" agenda, although they have inflicted serious damage. Unfortunately, they have received a fair amount of help from Trump, who has a propensity to undermine his administration's achievements with distracting petty social media disputes.
That notwithstanding, it's worth noting that, though the mainstream media has been overwhelmingly anti-Trump during his first year in office — versus Barack Obama's overwhelmingly admiring media during his first year, and all that followed — their first-year approval ratings are virtually identical, with both at 46%.
In his 1980 presidential debate with Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan did what he would often do in the years that followed: He talked over the mainstream media cameras and spoke directly to the American people. On this particular occasion, he asked, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" They were not, of course, and they thus entrusted Reagan with two presidential terms to right our nation's course.
And he did.
This year, Republicans across the nation only need ask their constituents if they are better off than they were just one year ago.
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.