Ever since Labor Day (the traditional start of campaign seasons) we have been inundated with rumors, conjecture and baseless speculation by the news media on both the left and the right. Nowhere to be found were actual facts. Everywhere to be found were accusations, innuendoes, denials and parsing of words. But now, for the most part, the votes are in, tallied and the winners declared. Following then are some observations about peculiarities of this election cycle.
The Wave That Did Not Crest
The mainstream media, trying to find a way to help their soul mates in the liberal/progressive wing of the Democrat Party preached endlessly of the coming of a “blue wave” that would wipe out the Republican controlled Congress and give Democrats an overwhelming majority in both houses of Congress and which would serve as a universal rebuke to President Donald
Trump and his long list of accomplishments. They trotted out Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) as a harbinger of what was to come but ignored the fact that the Democrat she beat was a smug, self-serving “lifer” who rarely paid any attention to his congressional district and assumed that he was entitled to his position for life. They also ignored the fact that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez endorsed one loser after another and proved to have no legs beyond her stealth victory in the primary. Likewise, the mainstream media boosted other far-left luminaries such as Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Andrew Gillium (D-FL) and Julia Salazar (D-NY).
But in the end, the “blue wave” never materialized. The Democrats eked out a close victory in the House and the Republicans added to their numbers in the Senate. All in all, it proved that wishful thinking by the mainstream media means very little when citizens go to the polls.
By any measure, the results of the election have to be judged a victory for President Donald Trump. The Republicans added to their majority in the Senate thus assuring that Mr. Trump’s nominees for the courts and for executive appointments will be confirmed in large part. The losses by Republicans in the House was less than the norm for mid-term elections and far less than experienced by former President Barack Obama during his first term.
The biggest losers in this election were members of the mainstream media who spent virtually every waking hour trumpeting the most salacious, but least credible, stories about Mr. Trump all to no avail. But Trump Derangement Syndrome runs deep in the mainstream media and the repudiation of “fake news” will fail to deter its members through the remaining six years of Mr. Trump’’ presidency.
What Role Did Sexual Preference Play in the 2018 Elections?
With exception of two Democrat candidates, sexual preference was never an issue in the elections – and that is a good thing. However, Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR) and Rep. Kyrstin Sinema (D-AZ) couldn’t put two sentences together without reminding voters that they were both bisexual. Ms. Brown won in reliably Democrat Oregon led by the far-left liberal/progressives in Portland. Her majority was in line with Democrat victories in previous gubernatorial elections indicating that voters didn’t care about her sexual preferences.
Ms. Sinema lost to Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), a former A-10 combat pilot. Ms. Sinema was a campus radical while attending Arizona State University where she joined anti-war protests and approved of young men joining al-Qaeda. She supported illegal immigrants, opposed capitalism, supported open borders and criticized women who opted to be stay-at-home mothers. Arizona has traditionally provided strong support for the military and is home to over 18,000 active duty personnel and an even greater number of military retirees and yet, despite those numbers, Ms. Sinema went out of her way to demean their service. And despite numerous opportunities to recant or to plead “youthful error”, she routinely demurred. Nobody cared about her sexual preference, but a lot of people cared about her views on the men and women of our armed forces.
Why Ms. Brown and Ms. Sinema insisted on rolling out their sexual preferences is a mystery to me. As a guess, I would suggest that there is the seeming need by those on the far left to identify as “victims” in order to build their “street creds.” Thus we see Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) pretending to be a Native American and former President Barack Obama (D) pretending to have suffered the indignities of African Americans even though he lived a life of privilege in private schools and Ivy League colleges. It’s just politics and in that world anything goes.
Sen. Ted Cruz Gets Schooled by Texas Republicans
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) won re-election by a razor thin margin. In contrast, Gov. Greg Abbot (R-TX) won by a towering thirteen percentage points. Mr. Cruz trailed Gov. Abbot by nearly 400,000 votes. Other Republicans enjoyed comfortable victories in other statewide races.
Mr. Cruz is basically the red-headed step-child among Republicans in the Congress. I noted in a March 2016 column:
“Hidden from view was the growing reputation that Mr. Cruz was gaining in the United States Senate as an orator who played fast and loose with the truth; as a back-stabber willing to sacrifice his colleagues for his own ambitions; and as an ‘ally’ that could never be trusted. When those things began to be made public, Mr. Cruz promptly blamed others and declared that he was running against the ‘establishment’ and that the criticisms were merely the ‘slings and arrows’ that he had to endure from the powerful.”
As Texans viewed Mr. Cruz’ conduct during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries they were offended. They concurred with the sobriquet “Lyin’ Ted” imposed by Mr. Trump. And they turned their backs on Mr. Cruz in large numbers. But only large enough numbers to ensure that he still beat media darling Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) who the mainstream media dubbed the Latino John F. Kennedy – what nonsense.
The question is whether Mr. Cruz will mend his ways in light of this uniquely Texas rebuke or remain a Republican pariah. I’m betting the latter since he is like the Scorpion and the Frog.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The media and politicians deemed the 2018 mid-term elections to be the most consequential election in American history. Given the animus by the media and the Democrats against all things Trump, it could have been – but it wasn’t. What we have is the traditional divided government. The Republicans in control of the presidency and the Senate and the Democrats in control of the House. Divided government has proven to be a stabilizer because neither party has the tools with which to screw things up even more than they currently are.
On the other hand, there is the opportunity for actual progress on many of the nation’s domestic problems through bipartisan resolution. At the top of that list is a badly need infrastructure resolution. The Republicans would do well to accept a larger funding package while the Democrats would do well to suspend the provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act requiring non-union contractors to pay exorbitant union scale wages. By doing both, Congress can ensure that maximum benefit for infrastructure projects.
Next is immigration reform where a trade-off between securing the border (building the wall) and granting lawful residency (but not citizenship) to DACA immigrants should be pursued with great speed. Any such reform should not allow for chain immigration.
And finally, the growing federal deficit cannot be managed without reform of both our welfare system and Social Security System. A strong program to encourage welfare to work should be adopted and those capable of work but still refuse to work should be denied benefits after an abbreviated period. Social Security reform is relatively simple by indexing the eligibility age to growth in mortality tables. Remember, when Congress began Social Security President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) pegged the eligibility age at 65 despite the fact that the average American mortality age was approximately 62 years. Indexing the current eligibility date to increases in the mortality rate would solve most of the problem over time. However, it should be applied only to those under fifty years of age in order to give the next generation of beneficiaries an opportunity to plan for the increase in eligibility age.
While all of those things are possible, the current crop of politicians, spurred on by the mainstream media is more likely to continue Trump Derangement Syndrome than to find workable solutions. No wonder politicians and the mainstream media remain at the bottom of the list of whom we trust and/or admire.