Thursday, November 01, 2018

Why the 2018 Midterm Elections Matter

In response to my earlier post today, some of my Republican" friends posted laughing emojis on the cross posting on Facebook.   Not surprisingly, these individuals tended to be white, heterosexual males and all from privilege.  I can only assume they lack much, if any, empathy for others and are only concerned with tax cuts and/or protecting their "white privilege."  Protecting the rule of law and maintaining some semblance of morality and decency seems to matter not so much.  It's very disheartening.  Confirming that I am not alone in lamenting what is occurring under the Trump?Pence?GOP misrule, The Economist, a staid British publication not known for hysteria, makes the case of why the 2018 midterm elections are so important and why, at a minimum, Democrats must retake control of the House of Representatives.  Here are article highlights:

Toxic federal politics is America’s great weakness. It prevents action on pressing real issues, from immigration to welfare; it erodes Americans’ faith in their government and its institutions; and it dims the beacon of American democracy abroad. The mid-term elections are a chance to begin stopping the rot—and even to start the arduous task of putting it right.
Mr Trump did not begin this abasement. But he has embraced it as enthusiastically as anyone and carried it to new depths of his own devising. All politicians stretch the truth. Mr Trump lies with abandon—over 5,000 times since he was inaugurated, according to the Washington Post. His deceit is so brazen and effective that many of his supporters take his word above any of his critics’, especially those in the media, and seemingly in the face of all the evidence. That suits Mr Trump because, once nobody is believed, he cannot be held to account. But it is disastrous for America. Once reasoned debate loses its power to win arguments, democracy cannot function.
Mr Trump is also wilfully divisive. All politicians attack their opponents, but presidents see it as their duty to unite the country after a tragedy. Only Mr Trump would think the Tree of Life synagogue shooting a chance to hit back at the media and the Democrats for criticising him (see article). Only he would suggest that, rather than tone down his explosive rhetoric, he might just “tone it up”. Such divisiveness matters because, when your opponents are simply bad people, the compromise that is the foundation of all healthy politics becomes hard within parties and almost impossible between them.
America’s democracy is robust—it was designed to be. However, one by one, its institutions are being infected with toxic polarisation. Congress caught the bug in the 1990s, when Newt Gingrich was Speaker. The media have also fallen victim to partisan scepticism—certainly among audiences, if not also among contributors. Just 11% of strong Trump supporters believe the mainstream media, whereas 91% of them trust Mr Trump, a CBS News poll found in the summer. Among Democrats those beliefs tend to be reversed. Now the Supreme Court is perceived to be partisan, too. Democrats see the recent confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the court as the ramming through of a partisan who has lied, possibly about a sexual assault, and who will be incapable of putting the law above his party. 
A dishonest executive, conniving with a fawning legislature and empowered by a partisan judiciary: were it to come to that, America truly would be in grave trouble.
What is to be done? Just as American politics did not sour overnight, so the route forward is by many small steps, beginning with next week’s elections. And the first of those steps is for the House, at a minimum, to switch to Democratic control.
This matters because Mr Trump should be subject to congressional oversight. He shows contempt for the norms that, to varying degrees, constrained past presidents—whether by refusing to release his tax returns, mixing official and private business, or bullying officials working in, say, the justice department who should be independent. Congress should hold hearings to investigate such behaviour. . . . a continued Republican majority in the House would eventually imperil the rule of law.
For Democrats to win control of the House would, in the long run, benefit both parties. Defeat would encourage some Republicans to start putting forward a conservative alternative to Trumpism. Defeat in the Senate, too, would turbo-charge that effort, though it looks unlikely. The status quo, by contrast, would cement Mr Trump’s takeover of the party.
America will not mend its politics in a single election. At a minimum, progress will take more votes, a renewal of the Republican Party and a different president with a different moral compass. But the right result next week could point the way.
Well said.  A second necessary step is to drive animus motivated, ignorance embracing evangelical Christians back into the political wilderness, hopefully, forever. 

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