Many historians do not view World War II as a unique conflict, but rather an interrupted continuation of the issues unresolved by World War I. In many ways, that is the story of the midterm election of 2018. It is a replay of 2016.
The most obvious similarity is the election eve polling and predictions. Democrats and the left-leaning media are consumed with analyses that suggest – often with an unwarranted certainty – that the Democrats will take control of the United States House of Representatives. If that does not happen, it will take an entire chicken ranch to provide sufficient egg for their collective faces.
Not only will they have suffered monumental embarrassment, but the very viability of the Democratic Party will come into question. Correct that! The viability of the Democratic Party will be gone. They will be the comatose remains of a political force propped up by nothing more than a legal skeletal structure. They have much more to lose than to gain.
The issues of 2018 are much the same as 2016. Democrats defend their once grossly unpopular Affordable Care Act – commonly known as Obamacare – with the more radical elements of the Party proposing the idiotic socialist notion of taxpayer funded single-payer healthcare. The remnants of the rational leadership of the Democratic Party are left with cursing the healthcare darkness without offering any lit candles. They have no idea what they want to support in healthcare that is different from Republican proposals.
Republicans see immigration as the number one campaign issue — again. Illegal border crossing is the same scary issue as it was in 2016 – although the caravans working their ways through Mexico have replaced THE WALL as the “flag” to rally round. It is a better issue because of the optics. The caravans are real while THE WALL remains a mental vision.
There is a lot of truth in former House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s claim that “all elections are local” – especially the midterms. While it is impossible to fully nationalize a midterm election, 2018 is as close as they come. Part, if not all of the reason, is President Trump – just as it was in 2016.
Repeating the strategy of two years ago, Democrats are betting that the myopic attack on Trump will have the affect it did not have in 2016. The President, himself, could not be more of the central focus of the news coverage if he was on the ballot. In the Democrat playbook, what ever voters think of Trump, they should think the same of every Republican candidate.
Democrats are betting that two additional years of Trump’s pugnacious personality and his seemingly shoot-from-the-hip policy development will be just enough to tap into a public weariness – just enough to make Trump, himself, the toxic element in the political cauldron.
Ironically, Trump sees himself figuratively as the man on the ballot – as he has said in so many words. Like the Democrats, he connects himself to the voting decision – more so than his more popular policies and achievements. “Think of me when you vote,” is his mantra. On balance, it is probably not a good strategy.
In making the President personally the issue for voters to consider, the Democrats and Trump cannot both be correct. In all probability, the miscalculation belongs to Trump. He should be the defender of his policies not the pseudo candidate.
While this year’s election season looks like a movie we have seen not so long ago, there are notable difference – differences that do not play well for the GOP.
Trump can volunteer himself as a stand in candidate – representing all those other races – but he has no personified opponent. He has no awful Hillary Clinton, who set that lower bar for Trump to rise above. It was not difficult for many voters to hold their noses and vote for Trump. Certainly, all elections are a bit of positive attraction and negative repulsion, but the 2016 election represented a greater degree of the latter than most. In 2018, Trump is shadow boxing.
With the tradition of the Party holding the White House to lose in Congress in midterm elections as a historic foundation, the focus on the Trump personality may be more effective this time. We should keep in mind how it almost worked in 2016. While Trump prefers denial when pondering the 2016 popular vote, any competent political pundit would see that as a humbling factor with real meaning in future elections. Something to work on. Trump, however, is not one to be humbled.
Perhaps this sense of déjà vu is based on a sense that this election IS a continuation of 2018. It is the forces of conservative populism pitted against the bipartisan big government establishment. It is the America first patriots against the sovereignty surrendering globalists.
With the economy roaring, consumer confidence at modern highs and almost 70 percent of the people believing that the nation is going in the right direction, it is ironic that the party in power would not be receiving a national mandate in the upcoming election. If it is not the policies and the generally good feeling, what is tamping down Republican popularity? Maybe better to ask, who.
It has long been my belief that the Trump personality did have a negative impact in 2016. Had he been just a wee bit less bellicose and vulgar, he would have won the popular vote, in my judgement. The Republican tsunami that began in 2010 was still in full force. The GOP numbers in both the Senate and the House would have been greater. There may not have been enough heat to propel a resistance movement.
I have worked with several candidates who have won longshot elections. They are more often and not one-termers because they do not understand that they rode into office on a wave that they did not create. They develop an “it worked last time” attitude, not realizing that what they believe worked, did not. If Democrats take the House, it will be because of the Trump personality … period.
Trump does have one advantage that he did not in 2016. He has real accomplishments. He has a record that many of his previous voters like – and that even the less aligned voters like. For many, he has performed better than they expected.
Of course, we must also consider the opposite effect his policies have had on those on the left. Trump has been a wrecking ball to every thing they liked about the Obama years. He has not tweaked – as the establishment has come to expect of presidents if either party. He has demolished.
The outcome of the upcoming election is impossible to predict because there is no measure by which we can learn if Trump’s accomplishments and potential will trump his own personality. What we can be sure of is that after Tuesday, this nation will still be deeply divided. We will continue to hear the unheeded calls for civic civility. If the GOP keeps the Senate and the House, we will see the continuation of the obstructive resistance movement. If Democrats take the house, the unfolding political combat will make the past two years seem like an era of political tranquility.
So, there ‘tis.
In raising the birthright citizenship issue, President Trump handled it in his characteristic clumsy and half-assed manner. In response, the #NeverTrump media took advantage of his inarticulateness to dishonestly characterize Trump as a dictator who believes he has the power to edit the Constitution. In fairness to the left – something that is not reciprocal – I have to admit that Trump did APPEAR to be saying that he could amend the Constitution by Executive Order. This requires a bit of explaining, however.
To the question, can Trump override the Constitution with an Executive Order? No, he cannot. However, can Trump start a process that could change the interpretation of the Constitution to achieve his goal. The answer to that is “yes.”
Trump critics say that the words of the Fourteenth Amendment, that provides the birthright, is clear. According to them, anyone who can read will understand it and know that it is impossible for the right to be changed without going through the complicated amending process. So, the first thing we need to do is read the relevant portion of the Amendment.
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
The Fourteenth Amendment was challenged in 1898 by a Chinese couple who wanted their child to be declared a citizen of the United States even though they were not citizens. The Supreme Court decided in their favor. End of subject.
Oh … not so fast. There is that phrase which requires that the newborn, and presumably the parents, be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. Many constitutional scholars interpret that as meaning that the parents must be legally subject to the laws and rights of the country. It is very arguable that those residing in America illegally are NOT within the legal jurisdiction of the country.
We use the word “jurisdiction” to mean both a physical area within a boundary AND an authority established by a legal relationship. If the Fourteenth Amendment means a physical place, then everyone residing within those boundaries is covered. If it means a legal authority and responsibility, the Amendment may not apply to illegal residents.So, which meaning is accurate? We do not know because the Supreme Court has never been asked to interpret that question. The aforementioned Chinese couple were legal residents – albeit not citizens – of the United States.
Can Trump end birthright citizenship for illegal aliens with an Executive Order, as he wishes to do? Not in the literal sense.
However, he can issue such an Order. It would most certainly be challenged in the federal courts. Some federal judge would most certainly issue an injunction to stop the Order from being implemented until the question could be decided by the Supreme Court. It would be up to a majority of the nine justices to decide – interpret the meaning – of the phrase “under the jurisdiction.”
If they decided that it did not apply to the newborn of illegal aliens, Trump will have won his point.
You see, the Constitution can be changed apart for the amending process. It can not only be changed by the Supreme Court, it is an established practice. The power to interpret the meaning of the Constitution – first established by Marbury v. Madison – is the power to give specific meaning, or even change the meaning, of the text. In fact, the establishment of the power of “judicial review” depended on the Court’s interpretation of language.
Virtually all progress in civil rights for blacks came about because the Supreme Court changed the meaning – changed the interpretation — of phrases in the Constitution. The infamous Dred Scott decision of the Chief Justice Taney court was overturned because the interpretation of the Constitution was changed. Language and decisions that gave states the right to maintain slavery was reversed because the Supreme Court changed the meaning and relative importance of the unchanged words.
So, while Trump cannot capriciously change the current interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, he can provoke a court case that would resolve a question that is currently unresolved. Those parents who are in America legally – though not citizens – would still be covered by the birthright concept. To change that would require an amendment.
It is a pity that Trump did not present his argument in a more articulate fashion and that his critics resorted to political demagoguery to misinform, rather than educate, the public.
So, there ‘tis.