The More Important Election

I touched on several of these points last Saturday. The Journal makes a better case for the changes coming if the Dems win the Senate.

The party conventions are focused on the race for the White House, but there’s precious little mention of what is arguably the more important contest: The fight for the U.S. Senate. Whoever holds that majority will determine whether change next year is centrist or radical.

This assumes Democrats hold the House, which is likely short of a Republican comeback for the ages. Republicans now hold a 53-47 Senate majority, but their hold is precarious. They’re defending as many as eight seats that are competitive, while they look set to gain back only the Alabama seat held by Democrat Doug Jones. A House, Senate and White House sweep would set Democrats up for the policy transformation that Joe Biden recently said he wants.

This would not be your father’s Democratic Senate, or even Barack Obama’s. A Democratic majority would elevate left-wing progressives like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Sheldon Whitehouse to positions of power. Normally they’d be constrained by the need to compromise with the minority to get 60 votes to pass legislation. This is what has frustrated both parties for decades, notably Republicans as recently as two years ago on entitlement, health-care and tort reform when they also held all of Congress and the White House.

Democrats have all but announced that, even with a narrow majority of 51 or 52, the 60-vote legislative filibuster is going the way of bourbon and branchwater. “The filibuster is gone,” former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Politico last week. “It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when it’s going to go. . . . Next year at this time, it will be gone.”

Harry should know. In 2013 he killed the filibuster rule for judicial nominees on a partisan vote. Barack Obama recently called the filibuster a relic of Jim Crow, though he wanted to use it to stop Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court confirmation. No less a former Senate Old Bull than Mr. Biden has signaled he’d be happy to see it go to grease the skids for his agenda.

The pressure from the left will be too intense to resist. Simply watch current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who for years has advertised himself as a moderate liberal. Last week he told the press that he’s no longer an “angry centrist.” He said he’s moved left with the times and thus can’t take anything “off the table” in the majority.

Mr. Schumer is anticipating a potential primary challenge in 2022 from progressive New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who could raise all the money she needs to take him on. That threat means Mr. Schumer wouldn’t dare buck his backbenchers who want to kill the filibuster. It also means that in the majority he’ll be along for the ride of whatever Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats want.

What would that be? Mr. Schumer said this includes addressing “income and wealth inequality, climate [change], racial justice, [and] health care” and “improving our democracy.” Democrats can pass a tax increase with a mere 51 votes under current budget rules, but killing the filibuster opens the door to all sorts of long dormant progressive priorities.

That includes statehood, plus two Senate seats each, for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. House Democrats have passed the most far-reaching labor legislation in decades. Right-to-work laws could be banned in the states and secret union elections replaced with “card check” that allows open pressure on workers.

Election mandates imposing ballot harvesting and mail-in voting on states would be likely. Democrats could also expand the size of the federal appellate courts and even the Supreme Court with a mere 51 votes. The only restraint would be public opinion, but Democrats (unlike Republicans) would have a cheerleading press corps behind them.

All of this is more likely than many Republicans think. Senate races have become increasingly nationalized as ticket-splitting ebbs, so President Trump’s undertow could sweep away even moderates like Susan Collins of Maine or Cory Gardner of Colorado. Oh, and in 2022 the GOP will have to defend at least 20 Senate seats—many in swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania—while Democrats protect 12 mostly safe strongholds. Voters, take note.

A word about Trump. I have never given Trump full-throated support. I did not like him on The Apprentice and still don’t care for his behavior. I will vote for a barking dog over any liberal, so I will vote for Trump again.

Here’s what the Journal’s Editorial Board had to say about him.

When Donald Trump won the Presidency four years ago, half of America gnashed its teeth or cried and even supporters who cheered weren’t sure what to expect. Four years later our verdict is that he has been better on policy than we feared but worse on personal behavior than we hoped. Whether Americans re-elect him depends on how they assess that political balance sheet.

We realize that even considering the Trump Presidency in these conventional terms is offensive to some readers. Don’t we get that he’s a would-be authoritarian, a Russian plant, or at least so deeply flawed as a human being that he can’t be trusted with power? Yet our democracy survives, and the Constitution’s checks and balances are intact. Americans who heard him ask for a second term Thursday night were trying to make sense of what has been a raucous and disruptive Presidency.

….

Which brings us to character. Americans knew when they voted for Mr. Trump that he wouldn’t adhere to convention, but they also hoped his manners would rise to the respect due the office. They too often haven’t. He is needlessly polarizing, luxuriates in petty feuds, and trashes aides who served him well as they walk out the door. He seems not to care if what he says is true, which has squandered his ability to persuade in a crisis.

 

His narcissism is his own worst enemy, which the public has seen to its worst effect in the pandemic. Mr. Trump brawled with governors and the press and bragged relentlessly about his success when Americans wanted candid realism. His Administration’s anti-Covid record is better than Mr. Trump has made it sound.

Yet it’s impossible to assess Mr. Trump’s behavior outside the context of the often unhinged opposition. We will never know how his Presidency might have gone without the Russia collusion accusations. But we do know the FBI, and the Obama Administration, knew early on that there was no evidence for the claims. They nonetheless fed the media stories to cripple him.

Before Election Day in 2016, we wrote that the biggest gamble of a Trump Presidency wasn’t the fantasy that he was a Mussolini from Manhattan. It was that he’d face a hostile press and bureaucracy that his inexperience and erratic management would be unable to navigate. So it has often been, and in 2018 the resulting tumult cost Republicans control of the House.

Americans now know Mr. Trump isn’t going to change, but then he isn’t running only against himself. He has a chance to win another four years if voters conclude that his disruption is less risky than the Biden-Sanders Democratic agenda.

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The Only Truly Effective Riot Control

 

2 thoughts on “The More Important Election”

  1. It would be nice to have a liberal democrat woman in charge of the USA. Something might get done for a change to improve people’s lives. As it is the richest Americans control everything and they only worry about their money, not the lives of the people.

  2. You state the popular view. It does not happen to be correct. Liberals actually edge out Conservatives in wealth. So it’s the Liberals who “control everything” and want to control more. The US Congress is a great place for Liberals to acquire wealth. Pelosi is a fine example. Liberals “killed” the UK and are about to conquer the US>

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