by Jeffery Rendall
In the 2016 presidential election’s stretch run Hillary Clinton famously asked during an interview, “Why aren’t I 50 points ahead?”
American voters knew the answer and shared it with the former first lady and legacy Democrat presidential candidate on Election Day. Clinton did end up a couple points ahead (in terms of popular vote) but was way behind where it counted — in the Electoral College. By posing the ridiculous query Hillary exposed the severe case of denial she and all Democrats brought with them into the voting booth on November 8 of that year.
The minority party’s collective fit continues to this day, most recently displayed by the Democrats’ heinous treatment of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process. Party members must go to sleep at night wondering, “What Happened?”, but until Democrats actually face reality their disorder will endure.
For his part now-President Donald Trump appears baffled by a similar dilemma, the mystery of why Republicans aren’t way ahead in the polls despite extremely favorable objective factors. All the economic indicators are shooting through the proverbial roof these days, yet Republicans still lag behind where it counts – voter preference surveys.
Trump proudly touted the stellar economic numbers again last week. Katelyn Caralle reported at The Washington Examiner, “President Trump on Wednesday boasted that U.S. consumer confidence has hit an 18-year high under his administration, and said it shows America’s economy is ready to grow even more.
“’Consumer confidence hits an 18 year high, close to breaking the all-time record. A big jump from last 8 years,’ Trump posted to Twitter Wednesday morning. ‘People are excited about the USA again! We are getting Bigger and Richer and Stronger. WAY MORE TO GO!’ …
Consumer confidence hits an 18 year high, close to breaking the all-time record. A big jump from last 8 years. People are excited about the USA again! We are getting Bigger and Richer and Stronger. WAY MORE TO GO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2018
“The Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday that consumer confidence rose to 138.4 in September from 134.7 in August, the Wall Street Journal reported. That’s the highest the Conference Board’s index has recorded since Sept. 2000.”
Ever since big bubba Bill Clinton’s chief political advisor James Carville coined the slogan “It’s the economy, stupid!” commentators assumed excellent economic numbers would automatically translate to electoral success for the majority faction – or in the alternative, if people believe the economy stinks it spells doom for the party in charge.
2018 would seem to be the exception though we’re still over a month out from Election Day and there’re a million things that could transpire between now and then. As an example, earlier this year when Democrats and their media enablers forecasted big pain for Republicans in November no one had any inkling Justice Anthony Kennedy would retire and there’d be such a huge opinion-influencing circus surrounding Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation.
That’s not to mention the host of other big news stories …the ongoing Russian “collusion” investigation, Stormy Daniels, Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong-un, Trump’s controversial press appearance alongside Vladimir Putin, trade sanctions, NAFTA trashed and replaced, John McCain’s death, you name it…if it’s a different day it’s a separate controversy.
Likewise, there’s miles to go until this race is settled. The economic numbers are good, people feel confident and the American economy is nearing full employment. Trump’s trade policies are working like a charm and the president is probably safe in predicting things will get even better as the days and weeks march by.
Republicans may not see a favorable boost from the strong economy, however, until they do a better job of selling distinctions between themselves and Democrats by pounding those nationalized issues that present voters a clear picture of where they stand (such as immigration, border wall, national security, making the tax cuts permanent, etc). Trump’s doing his best but he also frequently shoots himself in the foot with untimely tweets that stir up his #NeverTrump critics who then steer attention away from the plethora of good things going on all around us.
The Republican Congress won’t help much either. Time’s run out to pass anything major before the election and most GOP candidates are doing their best to echo the “we’ll do better next year” establishment line of argument. What House GOPers should be doing is promoting the candidacy of Jim Jordan for Speaker. The last thing conservative voters want is the prospect of replacing milquetoast establishment honk Paul Ryan with the intellectually challenged – and boring – establishment honk Rep. Kevin McCarthy.
Ryan’s a nice guy with impeccable midwestern manners and his economic policies are generally sound, but he’s not regarded as a brawler on the issues that provide the GOP a difference – and that’s exactly what people crave at this point. With some Democrats plotting a possible leadership coup of their own the time is now for Republicans to shake things up in a way that could truly produce results.
Even better for the GOP, there’s a change-agent running for the job. Since a spark is definitely needed, why not tap a tenacious, down on the mat former college wrestling champion to provide it?
Besides, the numbers back Jordan. FreedomWorks President and CEO Adam Brandon wrote at The Washington Examiner, “When FreedomWorks recently surveyed 4,200 members of our grassroots community, we found that 99.2 percent (4,203 individuals) of individuals supported Jordan for speakership. Only 0.08 percent (32 individuals) supported Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the current House Majority Leader. The overwhelming rejection of McCarthy was so dramatic, we had to make sure it wasn’t a typo.
“By staying silent, Republicans in Congress are implicitly endorsing the status quo. They are signing up for more of the same failed leadership operating in secrecy, and more $1.3 trillion spending sprees. As history demonstrates, when Republicans vote like Democrats, GOP voters stay home.
“Beltway pundits and entrenched party strategists will downplay the speakership battle as nothing more than inside baseball. But the reality is, congressional support for Jordan will determine whether GOP voters show up at the polls or catch up on errands instead.”
This one’s a no-brainer. If anyone feels better about Republicans these days it’s because of Donald Trump. A good many folks may not like his personal style or his direct, non-“presidential” use of language (during his UN speech Trump actually said OPEC was “ripping off” the world – would Obama ever blurt out those words?) but to others Trump is the refreshing breath of air the American political body needed to revive it from its ruling class asphyxia.
Jim Jordan can be that blast of oxygen for the GOP Congress as well. Just think about it.
For far too long the party’s been held down by leaders who itched to make deals with Democrats and pushed to the side key issues in order to avoid confrontations over government shutdowns. Establishment GOP leaders cared more about what the donor class and the Chamber of Commerce demanded instead of providing satisfaction for the grassroots. If the party is to be successful at governing – as opposed to just winning elections – it must have a leader who reflects the country’s change in values.
For years Republicans played “nice” with Nancy Pelosi and it’s gotten them nowhere. Meanwhile, over in the Senate Mitch McConnell redeems himself whenever there’s a Supreme Court vacancy but can’t maintain the high energy level when haggling over budget numbers and crucial social issues.
What congressional Republicans require is a good guy with a Donald Trump-like attitude… hmmm, who does that describe? How about Jim Jordan?
President Trump will do everything within his power to elect as many Republicans as possible, but he can’t do it alone – even if his ambitious travel schedule for the next month provides that impression. W. James Antle III wrote at The Washington Examiner, “What the schedule doesn’t show is much confidence in a ‘red wave’ — Trump is traveling not to suburban swing districts or Democratic territory, but mostly to states and congressional districts where he remains popular. Nevada, where Trump lost narrowly to Hillary Clinton but Sen. Dean Heller is seeking another term this year, is one exception…
“If Trump winds up in Florida, that could be a vote of confidence in Gov. Rick Scott’s Senate campaign. But if the president mostly plays defense in states Republicans already hold, it will be a sign that their path to building on or holding the 51-49 Senate majority is narrowing.
“Ten Democratic senators are running for re-election this year in states Trump carried. In several of these states, however, the Republican candidates have failed to gain traction. Still, the GOP has an opportunity to pick up seats in what is otherwise a challenging midterm election environment. Republican operatives have worried about whether they will be able to spread enough money around to all the Senate races they would like to contest this year.”
At every stop on the campaign trail Trump repeats his plea for more Republicans to push through his agenda. The crowds cheer wildly and Fox News carries the speeches in their entirety. Judging by the enthusiasm exhibited by Trump’s audiences you’d never fathom the particular GOP candidate Trump’s stumping for is in any electoral jeopardy whatsoever.
There are also occasional reports of surprising Republican strength among Democrat constituencies (such as Hispanics) or that Trump’s polling higher among African-American voters this year. Yet none of these miscellaneous clues ever add up to better poll standing for the generic Republican ballot. Why?
Among many factors is the likelihood that persuadable voters react to the latest media hit-job and haven’t yet made up their minds about the big R vs. D question. Studies have shown 90 percent of Trump’s news coverage is negative so on any given day chances are the narrative isn’t great for GOP congressional candidates either. But the totality of the Democrats’ excesses will catch up with them sooner or later. It’s inevitable.
Take the recent all-out Democrat assault on Judge Brett Kavanaugh as a case study. First there was the public shaming the Trump nominee suffered the moment his appointment was announced by President Trump. Then last month Kavanaugh endured four days of Senate Judiciary Committee interrogation, most of which has already been forgotten thanks to wretched Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s infamous “mystery witness” and the opening of 35 year-old floodgates on alleged sexual assault.
Since the first accusation more “victims” came forward to place Brett Kavanaugh at the scene of their crimes (though none of them even remember where they were during the alleged incidents).
Americans aren’t stupid. By committing all their reserves to stopping Kavanaugh now – or in trying to delay a vote until after November’s election – Democrats are gambling big time. The minority party doesn’t have anything else to offer voters other than #resistance and a politically correct circus sideshow full of unattractive elitist losers spewing wild claims about events that happened in the early 80’s – if they occurred at all.
Democrats’ carnival atmosphere has “backlash” written all over it. Some even think Democrat nuttiness now justifies Trump’s confrontational approach to politics. Rich Lowry wrote at National Review, “All of this plays into Trump’s support. Surely, a reason that the president appealed to many Republicans in the first place, despite his extravagant personal failings, was that they had decided that virtuous men would get smeared and chewed up by the opposition’s meat grinder, so why be a stickler for standards?
“If Trump’s attacks against the media are over-the-top and sometimes disgraceful, at least he understands the score. He may not be a constitutionalist, but he will be faithful to his own side, and fiercely battle it out with his political opponents.
“The logic of this dynamic is risky. It can be self-defeating, and lead down the road of supporting, say, a Roy Moore, a kooky candidate doomed even in red Alabama. It can be corrupting, if character and standards are no longer considered important. But the dark view of our politics that has driven the Trump phenomenon for three years now is impossible to gainsay. Who can watch the frenzied assault on Brett Kavanaugh and say that it’s wrong?”
It isn’t wrong. Ever since Ronald Reagan’s presidency Democrats have played by different rules – on Supreme Court nominees and virtually everything else. The old saying goes “Nice guys finish last,” and it’s definitely true in politics. Politics is no longer honorable – not that it ever was. Trump never rode the dignified route and that’s what separates him from the rest.
Objectively speaking Republicans should be doing better this year. With so many things going in their favor the public isn’t responding the way the elites hoped – but there’s still time to turn things around. The GOP can start by confirming Brett Kavanaugh, then fight like Donald Trump.