by Jeffrey A. Rendall
Predictions. It’s what New Year’s is all about.
It goes without saying that 2018 was full of surprises. Heading into this year Republican majorities in both houses of Congress had just passed a massive reorganization of the federal tax code, including a sizeable tax cut for most Americans in the bill language. By January 1, Democrats were already griping about reduced rates for corporations and businesses, claiming, as they always do, that the benefits of the new law would rain down disproportionately on the wealthiest and most powerful taxpayers.
Never mind that many, many companies had already announced sizeable end-of-the-year bonuses and raises for employees based on the improved future tax outlook. Nonetheless, Democrats were convinced the popularity of the new law would not improve (especially if they demagogued the matter) over the course of time.
Democrats believed they could parlay President Donald Trump’s lukewarm favorability numbers into a “wave” in November. After all, they’d just been eminently successful in stealing a senate seat in deep red Alabama (with a huge assist from the Washington GOP establishment), so the sky was the limit, right?
Last month’s election came and went, Democrats gained 40 seats in the House and the rest is history. It wasn’t exactly an anti-Bill Clinton or Barack Obama-sized “wave” but it was enough to kick the GOP out of power in the lower chamber. The now-minority party is poised to retake the majority in a few short days, likely re-handing the speaker’s gavel to 78-year-old Nancy Pelosi (who will turn 79 on March 26). Will it be smooth sailing for them or feel more like wading waist deep in a quagmire?
Patrick J. Buchanan wrote at The American Conservative, “Does this rejection of the GOP in 2018 portend the defeat of Donald Trump in 2020, assuming he is still in office then? Not necessarily.”
“To consider: Nancy Pelosi may want to close out her career as speaker with solid achievements, but she could face a rebellion in her party, which is looking to confront and not compromise with Trump. The national debt may be surging, but Capitol Hill progressives will be demanding Medicare-for-all and free college tuition. Trump-haters will be issuing reams of subpoenas and clamoring for impeachment.”
“In identity politics, loyalty to race, ethnic group and gender often trump the claims of party. The diversity Democrats celebrate is one day going to pull their party apart, as the social, cultural and racial revolutions of the 1960s pulled apart the party of FDR and LBJ.”
As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for. Recall Democrats were so drunk with power in Obama’s first two years that they pushed through nationalized healthcare (a.k.a. Obamacare), a government seizure of treasured freedoms that went over like a lead balloon to the always airy American public. This stunningly ignorant overreach led to 2010’s Tea Party rebellion, Republicans took back the House and the balance of Obama’s dreams to completely transform the country were laid to rest early in his tenure.
Not that Obama’s pen and phone didn’t do a tremendous amount of damage during his ensuing six years but much of it was accomplished through the president’s notorious executive orders. For this reason, Obama’s recently ended presidency isn’t notable for any major initiatives, just Obamacare (which is now all-but dead due to Republicans’ removal of the individual mandate and death panels) and a non-stop parade of executive scandals that rubbed the polish completely off — at least to the people who were paying attention.
The media loved Obama but it doesn’t mean he was an effective president. Obama’s main accomplishment was dividing the country by race, sex and “gender classification.” How’s that for leaving a positive legacy?
By contrast, President Trump’s been remarkably successful in a short time — through legitimate means. Democrats and the media relentlessly peck at him for his brash personal style and reflexive tendency to punch back via tweet, but if the success of a president is measured in actions performed, Trump rates extremely high.
What should Democrats expect in 2019? A lot of what Buchanan wrote, including intra-party bickering, frustration at being legislatively stifled by the Republican controlled senate and Trump at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue wielding his “pen and phone” in ways that reflect his own irritation at constantly being labeled incompetent, immoral, corrupt, insane and in ineffectual — by the Democrat House majority.
Ever since Trump won the 2016 election Democrats chomped at the bit to investigate him over every little contrived indiscretion, personal and otherwise. Don’t be shocked if they issue a flood of subpoenas on day one. 2019’s State of the Union address, with Pelosi seated behind Trump (taking Paul Ryan’s place) will likely be remembered for outlandish protests, hateful body language and liberal commentators taking bets on which month Trump will face impeachment.
With a caucus that can’t be controlled Pelosi will soon discover what it’s like to have her base expect her to produce something and not be able to deliver it. Pelosi and cohorts made a ton of promises this year in expectation of regaining the House majority and people will demand she come up with… something. As overseers of the people’s House, Democrats technically control the government’s purse strings… but how will they turn the power into satisfied constituents?
Trump still holds sway over the government’s departments. There may still be plenty of deep state federal enemies lurking to disrupt and #resist but Trump sets policy. The president’s appointees are tasked with spending the money Congress appropriates. If Trump directs them to trim five percent from their budgets, they’ll look for areas to save money.
In other words, Democrats hardly enjoy free rein to do whatever they want. Expect a great deal of Democrat strife in 2019. After eight years of Pelosi’s sniping from the sidelines it’ll be fun to watch her trying to tone down her rhetoric with increased scrutiny under the glaring spotlight of responsibility. And here’s thinking Trump will be even more Trump-like than ever in the coming year. Michael Goodwin agrees, writing at The New York Post, “The only surprise is that so many people are still surprised when Trump acts like Trump. They’d better get used to it.
“In fact, my prediction is that the Trump of 2019 is going to be far more feisty and disruptive than the one we have seen in his first two years in the Oval Office. Not necessarily because he wants to, though he clearly enjoys breaking the china. But because he doesn’t have much choice if he wants to survive and have a chance at re-election”
“The president is facing peril on all sides, and this is how he fights back. Part fury, part strategy, his dramatic decisions in recent days illustrate why he engenders so much love from some and so much hate from others.”
Goodwin is right. Trump will have no other choice than to react the way he does, not only from personal and professional pride but also because Democrats will take after him like hyaenas stalking a zebra. For every one of them that leaps for the jugular expect a swift kick in retort. When the attacks become excessive — which they certainly will be — Democrats could accomplish something no one’s been able to achieve since Trump entered politics — turn him into a sympathetic character.
In the 90’s, Newt Gingrich’s Republican Congress seized on the Monica Lewinsky scandal to try and remove Bill Clinton — and the evidence was much more solid than it is now against Trump. Clinton was caught on record lying (what is the definition of “is” during his deposition, right?) and as the facts leaked out, he appeared sleazier than his reputation — but even then the public still didn’t support removing a president because of his sex-life character snafus.
Clown-nosed Bubba Bill looked careworn and helpless trying to deflect attention away from his zipper and taste in cigars. But the liberals’ propaganda campaign worked for the most part — Republicans pursued impeachment for obstruction of justice and perjury and ended up looking like heartless inquisitors bent on removing Clinton for any pathetic slight.
The same could easily plague Democrats if/when they harp on Trump’s past sex life, business practices, tax returns and his family’s role in the 2016 campaign. Trump will fight back like mad insisting he’s simply protecting his reputation from a witch hunt. Liberal Democrats won’t care — they’ll be cheering it on — but the persuadable portion of the public will see the slime job for what it is. Who knows, maybe even a few #NeverTrumpers will rush to Trump’s defense.
Let’s face it — being in the political minority is easy. You can say whatever you want whenever you want and the more sensationalized the statement the more the media crawls all over it like bears on honey. Look at creepy “Chucky” Schumer these days — the senate minority leader recognizes he’s basically powerless to do anything but obstruct and a sympathetic media revels in his every utterance to make Trump look stupid.
But what happens when people pay attention and demand Democrats keep their promises in the same way Trump does? Trump just may win some folks over. David Catron wrote at The American Spectator about his own journey, “I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. I was afraid his obviously improvised campaign, imprecise explanations concerning how he planned to achieve his policy goals, and unsettling antics presaged a disastrous one-term presidency if he somehow managed to win.”
“Unlike Bill Kristol and his ilk, however, I never considered voting for the execrable Hillary Clinton. So, knowing that Trump would win my deep red state anyway, I voted for what’s-his-name from New Mexico. Predictably, I was surprised when Trump won. But that was nothing compared to the astonishment I experienced when it dawned on me that he’s a remarkably effective President.”
“After only two years in office, in the face of unprecedented and relentless resistance from the Democrats, the media, and the metastasizing Mueller investigation, President Trump has accomplished more than many presidents accomplish in two terms. He has not, of course, achieved all of his goals. The most obvious disappointments involved Obamacare and the border wall. Yet, even in these areas, his administration has made measurable progress and there is good reason to believe that he will eventually overcome Democratic obstructionism and achieve his ultimate objectives. Meanwhile, Trump’s long list of unalloyed successes keeps growing.”
In his piece Catron reviews many of those accomplishments and he’s correct, the list of Trump’s successes is impressive. At times we forget how Trump’s economic policies opened the door to economic growth nearly double that which Obama fostered in two complete terms. No president deserves complete credit — or absolute blame — but there’s no doubting Trump’s business friendly attitude has left an impression on productive Americans’ psyches.
It feels great knowing there won’t be a federal regulator standing over your shoulder or a notice of violation on the front window when you return from a sales meeting. It’s also comforting to realize fuel prices won’t be banging on the door of four bucks a gallon again because the country’s energy policies are oriented towards America First rather than some foreign scientist’s visions of global environmental nirvana.
Trump’s made good on his guarantee to dump NAFTA and forge new relationships with America’s most important trade partners, Canada and Mexico. Recently he’s kept another campaign vow to remove American boots from foreign hotspots where they’ve fought and sometimes died for ill-defined missions and objectives.
For the first time in memory Trump’s calmed tensions on the Korean peninsula and greatly reduced the threat of imminent war with a country we can neither see nor understand. There’s a long way to go but the groundwork is laid for peace. Here’s thinking Trump will use his potential domestic troubles to concentrate even harder on the foreign sphere in 2019.
Thanks to Trump’s obvious willingness to buck the Washington foreign policy establishment our NATO allies will further recognize he means what he says about altering the status quo. Will they respond accordingly with more money for their own defenses? If not, don’t count on America to do it alone.
Likewise, don’t depend on Trump to be the only one fighting back against Democrat overreach next year and in 2020. With his demonstrated willingness to battle over the border wall Trump has solidified his base’s support behind him. It’ll be a heck of a ride from this point forward.
DC elites were thrown into a tizzy when Trump won two years ago and looked perplexed as he laid out his America First vision during his inaugural address. This refusal to confront the reality of Trump isn’t likely to dissipate when Democrats take power in the House. How’s that for a prediction?