Trump surfs on ‘blue wave’
Trump comes out of the midterms marginally stronger. His rallies clearly gave Republican candidates an edge in key battlegrounds.
Jauntiness in the face of adversity is a basic trait in all politicians. They might be mortally wounded, innards spilling onto the floor, but the instinct is to insist it’s merely a flesh wound. So, let’s be a little sceptical of US President Donald Trump’s assertion that this week’s midterm elections were “a tremendous victory”. Tightening one’s hold on the Senate but losing control of the House of Representatives and shedding governorships in key states is, at best, a draw.
Democrats talking of their “historic victory” is similar hyperbole. Winning back not quite half as many House seats as were lost in Barack Obama’s midterm elections – after all that optimism and media hype – is a psychological blow.
That the Democrats were so gung-ho beforehand is understandable. Midterms are traditionally an opportunity for voters to give the incumbent a chastening wake-up call.
Trump is a racist misogynist. Many within the Republican establishment are antigay, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic. That’s a lot of voting blocs to lose.
All the Democrats needed was a coalition of those naturally antipathetic towards Trump and get them to the polling booths.
The results would be a “blue wave” tsunami, the Democrats thought. As we now know, it wasn’t.
The post-mortem undoubtedly will throw up a dozen immediate causes. They should also consider an underlying disease that weakens their body politic.
If the Democrats are going to thwart Trump in 2020, they are going to have to stop thinking that they have a God-given patent on the truth. There is an odious, sneering self-righteousness in the Democratic Party that is ultimately counterproductive to their cause.
It is encapsulated in the rage with which Democrats respond to “their” natural supporters not voting for them. For example, as in 2016 when white women “failed” in their apparent duty to vote for the female candidate, white women are now again being excoriated as “gender traitors” for not turning out for Democrat candidates in large enough numbers.
Such arrogant rhetoric from the “progressive” movement, combined with talk about “resistance”, is as inherently antidemocratic as is the rabid intolerance of the alt-right.
But Trump is undoubtedly in for a rough ride over the next two years. There will be a renewed vigour for the probe into Russian meddling in 2016, he will face tax investigations, impeachment moves and having the budgets of pet projects stalled.
But Trump comes out of the midterms marginally stronger. His rallies clearly gave Republican candidates an edge in key battlegrounds. Republican waverers, once distant from him, have been forced to hitch their wagons to his.
In contrast, the Democrats have a growing divide between the young radicals who flooded into the party after 2016, and an old guard with a considerably more centrist agenda. If this leftwing gains ascendancy, the Democrats may find 2020 more difficult than 2016.
Let’s imagine Trump learns something and becomes a little less confrontational and a little more centrist. Let’s imagine he faces a Democrat with Bernie Saunders’ ideology, Hillary Clinton’s smugness, and who ticks the minority boxes necessary for media adulation.
Hmmm. Much though it pains me to admit, my money would be on Trump.