THE TRUMP LEGACY
Disgruntled middle class voters who tipped the scales in Trump’s favor have given Republicans the keys to all branches of government. The legislative branch had already been under Republican control — since 2014 in the Senate and since 2010 in the House — and with Trump’s election, the Republicans also gained control of the White House. With the confirmation to Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court they will also control the top levels of the judicial branch for decades to come.
It seems natural that voters who are unhappy with the party in power will vote for the other side. The fact that we have a two party system in some ways makes this seem to be an even more logical choice in some people’s minds, even though technically this is faulty logic because it creates a false dilemma. But often, voter’s look at general trends without looking at the details. This occurred during Obama’s presidency in 2010, when voters elected Republicans to overtake the House of Representatives because they felt that the recovery was taking too long. What they didn’t see was that Republicans in congress had been blocking Obama at every turn.
Even when Democrats held a slim majority in the Senate, the Republican opposition was largely successful in blocking the majority of Obama’s proposals. Senate minority leader, who later became Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), stated that his goal was to do whatever he could to discredit Obama.
McConnell led the “party of No” in resisting useful reforms that could have helped so many during the great recession. As leader of the naysayers he thought that discrediting Obama would return his party to power and allow them to ultimately retake the presidency. Well it turns out that this strategy actually worked.
While Democrats may retake the Whitehouse and even possibly the Senate in 2020, it is likely that the house will remain in GOP control for many years to come. This is because most Republican house members are now in safe Republican districts that were redrawn by Republican state legislators. And with more state houses under Republican control there has been an increase in regressive legislation like tightening restrictions on abortion, passing right to work laws and union busting, and backward steps in civil rights, voting restrictions and worker’s rights.
With Republicans in power, it might be good for Democrats to study how they were so successful in tamping down so many of Obama’s proposals. But try as they may, Democrats just don’t seem to have it in them to manifest as the party of “No”. Take the Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court for example: Republicans refused to even give Garland a hearing, for a record 293 days. Compare this to Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch, which even though Democrats may try to stall for a bit, will likely sail through confirmation to be the next Supreme Court justice.
The constant changeover from one party to the other results in both gridlock and the undoing of what the previous administration had accomplished. In the long term, voting the current party out of power results in the policies of the previous administration being over turned, and meanwhile Congress can accomplish nothing new or meaningful. It’s as if the money interests to which both parties are beholden, purposely fund both sides, since this constant re-tooling slows everything down. For big money interests, no new laws or regulations is the best possible outcome since it allows them to continue to do business as usual with less oversight and regulation.
If one gains a historical perspective on the progress of any important movement, one sees that progress moves incredibly slowly and never in a straight line. Take the issue of civil rights for example. While the first legislation was passed nearly 150 years ago and additional legislation was passed in the 60’s, the cause of civil rights still has a long way to go.
The constant back and forth between parties often makes matters worse. For the country to really move forward, voters need to gain a larger historical perspective and learn to vote strategically and pragmatically with a larger plan in mind. And for this to work in practice, the general population needs to become more civically inclined on more levels. And this will ultimately lead to a better understanding of day to day politics as well as citizens becoming better versed in the respective party’s platforms and historical stances on the issues.
What needs to be understood by many voters is that the two parties are by nature really quite different. While Democrats come down on the side of civil rights, worker’s right, women’s rights and the needs of the lower and middle classes, Republicans tend to side more with the interests of big business and the wealthy. Once voters are more educated on the issues, there is more potential for them to vote strategically, not simply switching parties, but focusing on longer term goals.
It is more than a little ironic that middle class voters would pick the billionaire Trump as the person most likely to help them. The Republican dominated government is sure to do much damage to the progressive agenda and along the way it is likely to favor the rich while largely ignoring the needs of the poor and middle class. But many people do have a history of voting against their own best interests.
LINKS: SIDEBAR 7: THE TRUMP LEGACY
Neil Gorsuch: Who is he? Bio, facts, background and political views
Merrick Garland Now Holds the Record for Longest Supreme Court Wait
BACK TO MAIN STORY: THE PURPLE REVOLUTION