Last October, the cover of Time magazine forecast a gloomy picture for the Democratic Party. The apparatus had shrunk to its worst shape and size since 1929, Time editors argued, with no relief in sight. My, what a difference a few months make. After a resounding defeat last November, the Democrats are still flailing and continue their desperate search for a meaningful message and platform. However, it is the Republican Party that is on a collision course with American voters come this election cycle.
Many pundits in Washington are rightly predicting a “wave election.” It occurs when the party of the president currently in office loses seats during that president’s first term. The election of Donald J. Trump upended many traditionally held maxims regarding elections and voters. As such, surprises could be in store this election cycle. But there’s something deeper at work here. Something that has less to do with “waves” and more to do with “currents”—three to be exact: “the Stormy effect,” “the tax cut yawn” and “the rise of ‘isms.’” Left to itself, each current lacks the political punch necessary to change the current power structure in Washington. Yet if these three currents converge and subsequently move across the country, with no counter-response from Republicans, then the party’s majority in both the House and the Senate are in perilous jeopardy.
The Stormy effect
News surrounding former porn star Stormy Daniels’ allegations of an affair with Donald Trump landed with a dull thud in the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 election. To me, the reason was evident—no one, and certainly not his base, believed that Trump was a choir boy in his personal life. Yet we are gradually seeing the effects of his behavior—both past and present—surface in the political atmosphere. Sitting members of his own party are retiring altogether, seemingly to avoid a messy and awkward forum where they are forced to explain to parents and children the predilections of a man expected to lead a nation, a man who seemingly lacks a moral compass. Trump’s random personal conduct, which is regularly manifested in his tweets, causes many to visibly wince. After a while, it undoubtedly takes a toll and becomes a distraction, even to the very electorate that put him into office.
The tax cut yawn
Right or wrong, the root word of politics today is “new.” As a conservative, that truism causes me great concern. We cannot, as a country, keep writing checks that our children and grandchildren will inevitably be expected to cash. Unfortunately, that seems to be the political reality today. With that in mind, the Republican Party is relying on old news to spur voters toward the polls this year. Let’s start with the tax cut package passed last year. A year is an eternity in Washington. Most politicians cannot remember the bill that they voted on last week, much less last year. Although the tax cut was the largest in history, will it really make a material difference in the lives of voters, so much so that they are willing to treat the tax cut as a one-issue reason for re-electing a Republican Congress? Early indications are no.