Wednesday, November 07, 2018

midterm election pre-mortem

NB: this is a scheduled post, originally written early Monday morning a bit after 1 a.m. We in Seoul won't know the midterm-election results until it's late Wednesday morning on the peninsula. I've scheduled this post to appear while I'm asleep, at 4 a.m. on Wednesday.

Most likely result: the Republicans easily keep the Senate, but they slightly lose the House. Nancy Pelosi once again becomes Speaker of the House, presiding over a very narrow Democrat advantage. This is by no means a "blue wave"; it is, at best, a blue trickle. Here are some random thoughts on this probable state of affairs:

1. Pelosi isn't exactly beloved of many Democrats these days, so we can expect some internecine strife among the old-guard and new-wave Democrats. As an aging white, liberal woman on the order of Hillary Clinton, Pelosi is prone to hilarious gaffes and wild-eyed claims ("we have to pass the bill so you can find out what's in it" re: Obamacare, for example), and she'll make a magnificent target for Republican scorn.

2. Donald Trump will now be able to blame Democrat obstructionism for his future inability to implement policy changes. This will make his reelection in 2020 all that much easier, as most of the country will be in a Democrat-hating mood.

3. Democrat control of the House won't give the Democrats the two things they want most: (1) the ability to block another Supreme Court nominee, and (2) the ability to kick Trump out of the Oval Office via impeachment. This is because the Republicans will still have firm control of the Senate for at least another four years. As we just saw with Brett Kavanaugh, it's the Senate Judiciary Committee that has final say on whether a SCOTUS nominee passes muster. The House has nothing to do with this. And as for impeachment: while the House is the entity that can bring articles of impeachment against whomever it accuses, it's the Senate that executes the actual impeachment process. With the Senate stacked so heavily with Republicans, any attempt at impeachment will die right on the vine.

Any Democrat initiative that requires the approval of both the House and the Senate, e.g., getting a bill through Congress, is going to be nixed by a GOP-heavy Senate. Aside from that, having the Democrats do their obstructionist thing in the House might actually introduce a nice, healthy dynamic tension to the legislative proceedings. Styx contends that, at this point, Trump "doesn't give a fuck" whether the House tilts leftward. I can see why: The Donald is pretty much guaranteed reelection in 2020, unless it turns out he's the leader of a child-prostitution/dogfighting ring or something.

This post serves as both a tentative prediction about the election results and as a form of speculation on the near future. We'll see, in a matter of hours after this post appears, whether I have any egg on my face for what I've written above.

PS: if the Republicans somehow hold both houses of Congress (which I find unlikely), this will be revolutionary. Historically, Congress tends to switch to the party opposite the president's during the midterm elections. A reversal of that trend—a total shutout of the Democrats—could well mean that Donald Trump is indeed playing 4-D chess. If that happens, the Dems might be able to take solace in whatever gubernatorial gains they make.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kevin, you hit the nail right on the head. Good call (but not the one I wanted). We will fasten our seatbelts for a wild ride over here.