The Midterm: Swing States Reject Extremism
The dust is almost settled now after the midterm elections. Democrats maintained their control of the Senate and may gain an extra vote in that chamber if Hershel Walker loses and Raphael Warnock wins the run off Senate race in Georgia. That one seat could make a huge difference in the ability of the Schumer led Senate to pass legislation and appoint more diverse federal judges without difficulty.
In Michigan there was a remarkable sea change sweep by Democrats: governor, secretary of state, attorney general and both state house chambers are blue now. That victory was put together by women working together as an effective team in the state of Michigan with great messaging but most consequential of all was putting reproductive rights on the ballot to bring out the pro-choice voters. What was done in Michigan is likely to be the Democrat’s playbook for success in more states across the nation. Watch for push back from Republicans to make ballot initiatives harder to pass as a result.
Republicans can claim Florida as a fully red state not a swing state after this election with a big win across most of that state for Republicans.
In key midwestern swing states the pendulum swung mainly in favor of Democrats thanks to a lot of work being done on the ground by groups that created relationships with voters and then got out the vote, DNC investment, DGA (Democratic Governors Assn) investment and donor support. The gamble to amplify the messages of Republican extremists and election denialists to encourage MAGA Trump loving voters to choose these people in their primary paid off. These extremists were rejected by the general election voters. In Pennsylvania the state legislature flipped red to blue. Josh Shapiro won the governorship handily beating Mastriano, an election denying extremist, and John Fetterman beat Dr. Oz. In Wisconsin, Governor Evers will continue as governor but Mandela Barnes lost to the Republican incumbent Ron Johnson. If Tim Ryan had been the Democrat running against Ron Johnson in Wisconsin I think the outcome might have been different. Many of the incumbents in both parties kept their seats.
The House of Representatives went to the GOP
There are a few House races still uncalled, but it is clear that the Democrats narrowly lost their control in the House of Representatives. Races in New York and California that Democrats thought they would win but lost would have made the difference in the outcome in the House for the Democrats. That narrow shift in the House (probably only 3 or 4 seats) that resulted in Republican control will be very consequential for both Democrats and Republicans. Whoever becomes the Republican Speaker of the House will have an impossible job trying to rein in the extremists that got elected in Trump loving districts.
If the Republican Speaker cannot control the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican brand will be even more damaged with the voters they need to woo to win general elections: Gen Z, women and Independents. The Republican Party needs to find its way back from extremism if it hopes to win more general elections in the future. Failure to do that will result in more Democratic wins in governorships, state houses and Senate races and may well tee up a Democratic presidential win in 2024.
Most of the governors races are determined by now. Many governors who were incumbents won their races. True to form, Kari Lake is refusing to concede to Katie Hobbs in Arizona. There are rumors that Lake wants to be Trump’s VP pick or get her own show on Fox but first she plans to go to court in true Trumpian fashion to protest what was a fair election that she can’t believe she didn’t win or might believe she didn’t win but wants to show she is a truly Trumpy person.
Nancy Pelosi Stepped Down
Nancy Pelosi was classy. She turned over power from the old guard to the next generation of relatively new (they are in their fifties) Democratic leaders in the House. She stepped down and welcomed Hakeem Jeffries, Catherine Clark and Pete Aguilar who will now replace Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clybourn. There was no strife. It was well orchestrated and preplanned. The Democrats had their act together.
What This Election Proved
American people voted for sane over crazy this election. The election was calm and without violence. Americans want the right to abortion and reasonable gun laws. They rejected election subversion and election denialists. Some Independents leaning Republican broke with their tribal affiliation to the Republican Party to give the Democrats more strength than expected. Americans understood our country was on the brink of losing our democracy and wanted to pull us back from the abyss. A majority of Americans are moderates not extremists. They believe Biden was fairly elected. They reject MAGA extremism.
In short, given the choice of voting for an extremist or a reasonable person who would at least try to make their lives better (fix the damn roads), preserve freedoms they care about, and return our country to a more collaborative less divisive place, they chose Democrats in races that should have gone to Republicans had the GOP been more moderate.
What this also tells us is that rank choice voting, which has been adopted in Alaska and resulted in the re-election of Lisa Murkowski and Mary Peltola, could be the way out of the extremism plaguing our country. Rank choice voting helps more moderate candidates to get elected. It allows lawmakers to vote the way their constituents want them to vote without having to appease the extreme wings of either party.
What Did Trump and the Republicans Learn or Not Learn?
You might think that the Republicans would do a post mortem and learn from their losses this midterm. But that does not seem to be the case. The first thing House Republicans want to do with their power is to investigate Hunter Biden and the so called Biden “crime family”. Unlike Trump’s kids, Hunter Biden was not part of this administration. Whether or not Hunter had issues, Hunter is not the same person as Joe Biden. The House Republicans are also threatening to investigate Dr. Fauci and impeach Joe Biden. Some want to make social security and Medicare not a right but a renewable benefit that Congress would have to agree to renew every year (as Ron Johnson wants) or every few years.
If Republicans break the social safety net for older Americans who have worked hard and had their pay checks deducted to fund their benefits only to have those benefits taken away, that will really anger older Americans who make up the much of the base of the GOP. It’s hard to understand what these Republicans are thinking when it comes to these particular knuckleheaded policy plans.
Based on what we are hearing so far, House Republicans are not saving themselves from being too extreme. Republicans run the risk of turning off even more Americans and branding themselves even more as too extreme for our country.
What’s Coming For Trump
Trump is a truly corrupt man who also appointed a large number of corrupt government officials during his time in office. He violated the emoluments clause over and over again, acted like an autocrat running roughshod over norms and laws and even after leaving office he took top secret documents with him to Mar-a-Lago and refused to give them up. Although Trump ignored and violated many laws, he got away with all of it when he was president thanks to the OLC rule that a sitting president cannot be indicted and the power he commanded as president including the ability to appoint protectors at every level of government. But he no longer commands the power of the presidency and has lost the ability to meddle behind the scenes. Trump is not able to micromanage the system to protect himself anymore. Trump and his supporters claim that Trump has done nothing wrong and the evidence for that is that he had yet to be indicted.
That is about to end.
The appointment of Jack Smith as special counsel was obviously already primed and ready. Merrick Garland was just waiting for Trump to announce his run for president before announcing the appointment of a Special Counsel. We can assume that from the rapidity of that appointment. We can also assume that there is no way the DOJ would call Jack Smith away from prosecuting war criminals at the Hague unless there was a viable case against Trump that has already been amassed by DOJ.
Smith is an aggressive prosecutor and he is wasting no time getting down to business. Pence has been subpoenaed as one of Smith’s first moves in the January 6th case. In the Mar-a-Lago case the three judge panel of the 11th Circuit raising a lot of questions about why Trump should get this special deal if other citizens in his shoes would not have the ability to get a Special Master appointed. Based on the pointed questions of these three judges, it looks like that Judge Cannon’s decision to appoint a Special Master is about to be reversed. That would leave the DOJ to move forward more quickly to indict Trump. Smith knows that the clock is ticking and they must indict rapidly because Trump’s MO is to appeal everything so as to stall the proceedings as long as possible.
I think Trump also knows indictments are coming. That’s why he announced he is running for president so early. He wants to make the PR case for himself that he is being prosecuted/persecuted by the Dems and the Libs.
If Trump is indicted before the primary season starts and even if he is found guilty and sentenced before the presidential primaries, Trump could still win Republican primaries if there is a big field of contestants. Why? Trump’s base will still vote for him in the primaries and the other hopefuls would have to divide up the anti-MAGAs that are left over. That would allow Trump to beat out the divided field of rivals. There is a real chance that Trump could be indicted, heading for prison, and running for president at the very same time.
What if Trump is in Prison and Still Running for President?
This midterm the American people voted for sanity but what we are going to get is insanity. We will get insanity from the House Republicans and from Trump in his desperate attempt to return to power and avoid consequences for breaking the law. Our country will get insanity as long as Trump and his MAGA extremists have political power. Trump would use an indictment and trial and even a conviction to rail against the Dems and rally his supporters. I do not think Trump would win an election running while indicted or running during a trial or from prison after being convicted. But I do think Trump is ready to blow up the system if that helps himself in any way. By trying to save himself from becoming the biggest loser, Trump could destroy what is left of the Republican Party. How? By ruining what is left of the Republican brand for decades to come.
It is clear that given the current situation what is coming soon will Make America Crazy Again.