Commentary: Will Democrats Ride a Wave in 2018 or More Likely Just Wipeout?

Jeffrey A. Rendall

April 21, 2017

For a collection of people who have been so wrong about virtually everything since 2012, Democrats sure are a confident lot in predicting what the future holds for Donald Trump and the Republican party.

After the disastrous (at least for Republicans) 2012 election, Democrats arrogantly boasted they were unstoppable. Mr. “Hope and Change” Barack Obama was set for four more years in the White House where he would use the time to cement his radical leftist agenda into the federal statute books. The Senate was firmly in WipeoutHarry Reid’s hands with a 53-47 majority. The House remained under Republican control but was led by the feckless and ineffective establishmentarian Speaker John Boehner, a man so inept even own his party base couldn’t stand him.

Everyone knew – including Republicans and conservatives – the spray-tanned, chain smoking, Merlot guzzling, often sobbing Boehner would prove to be but a speed bump on the Obama highway to hegemony.

Democrats used their dominance to boldly project an end to the Republican Party unless its members adopted key elements of the Obama agenda, including unfettered immigration and same-sex marriage.

Then came 2014 where Republicans gained seven Senate seats to put Congress under complete GOP control. No matter, bragged the Democrats, the 2016 election was around the corner and the now-permanent Obama coalition would once again rise up to hand them the White House for another term. Even better, party maven Hillary Clinton was gearing up to make a run. It was in the bag, they thought, especially when Republicans were foolish enough to nominate the ill-mannered political novice Donald Trump to oppose her.

2016 came and went and today Republicans not only maintain majorities in both the House and Senate, they also occupy the White House with Trump and most likely claim the advantage on the Supreme Court as well.

Do the Democrats still assume it’s morning in Democrat America?

The answer is yes, if you listen to them. The most recent example of their “sky is falling on Donald Trump and the GOP” predictions came the other day when Democrat Jon Ossoff prevailed over his nearest challenger by over 28 points in the Georgia special election to advance to a June runoff with Republican Karen Handel.

Because the election was to fill the seat of Trump’s HHS Secretary Tom Price — and took place in a traditionally Republican district — Democrats saw the 30 year-old Ossoff’s solid performance as an indication they have turned the corner and are making a comeback. They think because Ossoff almost reached the magic 50 percent mark that it foretells of a nationwide Democrat “resistance” wave to come.

Democrats prophesy Republicans will be swept out of control of Congress. Trump will be stripped of his power. Heck, maybe impeachment is on the horizon if the 2018 elections go badly enough for him.

Not so fast. Even some Democrat pundits are saying to hold on before claiming Republicans are now doing everything wrong and Democrats everything right. Democrat pollster Douglas E. Schoen wrote at Fox News, “In the past, Republicans have offered compelling, alternative policies when faced with a Democratic majority, most notably through the 1994 Contract with America, as well as the more recent Tea Party Movement.

“The current Democratic minority does not seek to offer alternatives to Republican policies in this way, but instead promotes resistance at every step and blocking anything that comes from the White House.

“If not by 2018, certainly by 2020, this non-strategy will not only destabilize the Democratic party’s future, but also cripple our nation in the process, leaving key constituencies to suffer the consequences.”

Schoen hits the nail on the head, which must be getting him in trouble with his Democrat friends who never would admit anything truthful. Democrats don’t have a message; they don’t offer any legislative agenda and they don’t have any true leaders. There isn’t a single Democrat in elected office today that can inject him or herself into a tight political race and say “vote for candidate X because we need her to help pass proposal Y.”

Instead, you’ve got Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi talking about how awful Trump is and what he’s doing to women’s rights, the environment and minorities. They’re so shallow if they were a puddle you’d scrape your foot before hitting the water.

That’s not to say Republicans can’t lose, but thus far there haven’t been any headlining defeats to dampen the party base’s enthusiasm. The only real “loss” thus far in the era of Trump was at their own hands – healthcare – but with some presidential leadership and leaning on the “centrists” of the party, anything is possible.

No mistaking, there’s important work ahead to keep up the GOP’s momentum. The 2017 Virginia governor’s race may provide a real clue as to how things will go in next year’s congressional elections.

Political expert David Byler wrote at Real Clear Politics, “[I]n 2017, the most important electoral gut check will probably come from Virginia. The Old Dominion is the only swing state that holds a gubernatorial election in an off year, and there are contested primaries on both sides. Once the dust settles from string of special House elections from now till late June, many journalists, activists and political donors will likely start to focus on the race there…

“Right now, the Republican Party is heavily leveraged on non-college-educated white voters. Democrats currently win commanding majorities of every major nonwhite group, and Republicans fought them to a draw with college-educated whites in 2016. In other words, Trump’s version of the GOP is heavily reliant on working-class white voters. And whenever a party is too reliant on one subset of voters, its coalition can become unbalanced and vulnerable.”

While Byler’s last point is true on balance, Trump certainly hasn’t lost the support of his base – yet. And as pointed out by Schoen above, Democrats can only hope to go so far on “resistance” alone. The election in Virginia and other places is likely to come down to Trump’s ability to steer Congress in a direction that will motivate his conservative/populist voters to support Republicans up and down the ballot.

It could also turn on whether the Republican candidates embrace the Trump national agenda or instead try to put perceived politically expedient distance between them.

In that sense, Trump could end up being a little like Obama. When Obama wasn’t up for election Democrats lost in droves. The same likely won’t be repeated with the GOP, however, though the more the loathed party establishment is linked to any contest the worse are the prospects for stimulating the base.

Paul Ryan’s the one who should stay away, not Trump.

Demographically speaking, Virginia is inching more towards Democrat Maryland rather than the solid red south. The northern Virginia/Washington DC suburbs are now heavily Democrat. Whoever ends up winning there in November will be the candidate who can get his voters to turn out.

It will be interesting to see how the next six months unfold in the Old Dominion. But even if the Democrats steal an election here or there I’d be careful in betting on a Democrat Tea Party-like wave on the horizon for 2018. It could just as easily end up being an epic wipeout.

Chaffetz’s retirement sends shockwaves through the GOP, but does it really signal anything?

Speaking of elections, Republicans received a surprise the other day when Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz announced he would not run for reelection next year – and possibly might even leave sooner.

Kyle Feldscher of the Washington Examiner reports, “Chaffetz announced his plans to leave Congress 10 years after he was first elected to represent Utah’s 3rd Congressional district on Wednesday. He told Wright there’s no political reason that he wants to step aside, but instead he’s looking to take advantage of some opportunities in the private sector.

“In his statement, Chaffetz said he spends too many nights away from his family and wants to spend more time with them. He issued a pre-emptive warning to anyone who thinks there’s some sort of scandalous reason why he didn’t want to run.”

A congressman leaving Washington to spend time with his family? Scandalous reason? Who would ever want to think that? I’m sure the media has been digging like crazy to dredge up anything that might possibly explain this move by Chaffetz. Off the top of my head, I’m guessing he must have done something to make Paul Ryan mad so he got the boot.

Chaffetz’s decision is somewhat noteworthy not because he’s an essential member of the GOP congressional team; no, it’s because he is still pretty young, was thought to be an up-and-comer in the Republican caucus and at one time was even rumored to be considered for Speaker to replace the ousted John Boehner.

Chaffetz also used to be considered kind of a boat-rocker when he was first elected, but his steady migration into the gravitational field of the establishment killed any hopes conservatives might have had for him long ago.

I’m guessing his decision to bolt Congress had little to do with fearing an anti-Trump electoral wave next year. Like with many establishmentarians Chaffetz had a love/hate relationship with candidate and then president Trump. I doubt he’ll be missed by the leadership.

Besides, there could be anti-Trump comedian-without-even-trying Evan McMullin ready to step into the mix to replace Chaffetz and provide a lot of joyous distraction at the same time.

David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner reports, “McMullin confirmed in a Thursday morning email to the Washington Examiner that he had been weighing a challenge to either Sen. Orrin Hatch or Chaffetz in the 2018 Republican primary, and indicated that the congressman’s decision to retire could make a run for the 3rd district appealing.

“’I’ve been considering challenging Hatch or Chaffetz, or not running at all in 2018. Obviously, this development today is significant, but there are other important factors. I still haven’t made a decision,’ said McMullin. He and Mindy Finn run the group ‘Stand Up Republic,’ which was formed to help gin up conservative opposition to the Trump administration.”

McMullin is best described as leading the non-leftist “resistance” to Trump, though it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between he and his group and the black mask wearing Molotov cocktail throwing hoodlum set – at least in what they’re saying and tweeting about the president.

Drucker reports McMullin polled well (when running for president) in last year’s election in the 3rd district but there would be other serious challengers to replace Chaffetz. I personally can’t see an anti-Trump Republican in Congress getting very far. The establishment leadership would probably slip him high fives behind closed doors but wouldn’t allow him to do or say much in public. I think McMullin would get bored after a while.

And there are more rumors that Republicans are having a hard time recruiting senate candidates, too.

James Arkin of Real Clear Politics reports, “Senate Republicans are bullish about the 2018 midterms as they target Democrats running for re-election in states carried by President Trump. But facing a turbulent political environment and seasoned Democrats who have won tough races before, some Republicans are growing concerned about their recruitment progress, anxious that potential GOP challengers aren’t stepping up to run in top-tier races.

“Most Republicans caution patience, arguing it’s still early in the cycle and pointing out they have potential candidates in most of the races expected to be focal points next year. But others say that unless those potential candidates make their bids official soon, their prospects might not be as rosy as most believe.”

What they mean by a potential lack of quality candidates is the establishment-favored people have yet to step forward. I have little doubt many principled conservatives are itching to run for these seats but may never get a chance to see the light of day unless the party poohbahs come forward bearing permission and treasure.

For every establishment candidate there are likely three or four grassroots favorites who are waiting to become the next Ted Cruz or Ron Johnson.

Elections are elections and politics is politics. When the time comes there will be plenty of Republicans interested in the senate seats and in running for Chaffetz’s vacated perch as well.

Would you rather go to the White House with Ted Nugent or Beyoncé?

There’s little doubt Republicans have acquired a reputation over the years for being overly prim and a little uptight in the social entertainment realm, with most of American culture’s “loose” liberal figures preferring to cohort with the likes of Barry Obama, slick Willy Clinton and Ted Kennedy rather than chewing the fat in the company of button-down sterile bow tie-wearing Mitch McConnell and crew.

But anyone who thinks you can’t be conservative and “cool” at the same time better take a look at the recent invite list to the White House.

Madeline Conway of Politico reports, “President Donald Trump hosted Sarah Palin and musicians Kid Rock and Ted Nugent at the White House on Wednesday night — a controversial guest list considering that Nugent once called for the Oval Office’s last occupant to be hanged…

“In one of [Palin’s] photos, Palin, Kid Rock and Nugent are gathered around Trump’s desk in the Oval Office; others show Palin talking to Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

“And on Wednesday evening, she posted a picture of the three guests making faces in front of Hillary Clinton’s White House portrait from her time as first lady.”

The Politico writer could barely hide her contempt for the loutish president and his uncouth callers. Seeing the photos (referenced above) it’s almost as though the crowd at a classic rock concert wandered straight into the White House. I bet Trump would fit right in backstage with the band, too.

Those who fondly remember Nugent from his heyday in the 70’s probably never guessed the wild man performer famous for such hits as “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Wango Tango” would ever be seen hobnobbing with the president in the Oval Office someday.

Similarly Kid Rock is no saint in his celebrity capacity and Palin will always be thought of by people who hate her as a gun totin’ modern day Annie Oakley with an annoying folksy accent and a penchant for saying things that make the pompous establishment cringe.

I mean come on, Palin’s family gets into nationally reported barroom brawls – how “everyday American” can you get?

Donald Trump once again breaks right through conventional norms – and hypocritical liberals despise him for it. All in all, not exactly a bad thing.

Reprinted with permission from

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