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So, the midterms are finally over. For months, those of us who like to watch American politics were expecting an epic to the death struggle that would vindicate the winner and devastate the loser.
But, as the Fates would have it, that is not what happened. At the time this article was written, the Democrats held 225 seats in the House of Representatives compared to the Republicans 197 seats (with thirteen seats still to be decided). And in the Senate, the Republicans held 51 seats to the Democrats 44 (with two seats being held by other parties and with four still undecided).
What we got was less an Alien versus Predator fight to the death and something more akin to two schoolboys getting into a schoolyard brawl with each claiming victory because they’d managed to bloody the other’s nose.
For months we’d been told that the Democrats would end up dominating both the House of Representatives and the Senate as the American people voiced their disapproval of the Trump Presidency. But that didn’t happen either. The Republicans may have lost their majority in the House of Representatives (and, indeed, many moderate Republicans did not do so well), they managed to gain a definitive majority in the Senate.
As Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary put it: “anybody that was anticipating a blue wave tonight’s not going to get it.”
Several factors played a role in determining the outcome of the election.
The first thing to note is that the results of the election were not a signal of approval for far-left Democratic policies. It was moderate Democrats who won seats, not radically progressive ones. This would suggest that as many Americans reject radical identity politics as those who feel dissatisfied with the Trump Presidency. And it would suggest that the Democrat’s best strategy for winning the next Presidential election is to put forward a moderate candidate with a moderate platform.
The second thing to note is that the Republican’s triumph in the Senate had as much do with demographics as it did with politics. The electoral map made Democratic Senate seats more vulnerable than Republican ones. That said, however, it also turns out that the Democrats failed to take advantage of an advantageous news cycle. Had they nominated more moderate candidates rather than radically progressive ones they would have found themselves a lot more successful.
The third thing to note is that voter motivation played an enormous role in determining the outcome of the election. One of the reasons the Republicans lost the House of Representatives was because the Democrats were more motivated to vote than they were.
Actually, this was recognised early on. Bill Stepien, the political director for the White House, urged President Trump to motivate his base by making the election a referendum on his own performance. Clearly, Stepien recognised that President Trump has a special talent for rallying his supporters. And, as the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro noted, every district Trump visited ended up voting Republican.
The fourth things to note is that the Democrats managed to do better in the suburbs than the Republicans did. The Democrats managed to win suburbs all the way from the eastern seaboard to Nevada and even managed to expand into Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Richmond. As Liesl Hickey, the executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2014, said “Republicans have lost the suburbs. I don’t know if they’ve lost them forever, but we’ve definitely lost them for now.”
That the outcome of the midterms will have political implications should be obvious to everyone. On the negative side, a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will make it difficult for the Republicans to enact their legislative agenda over the next two years. It puts Trump’s immigration and economic policies in danger. It puts his administration’s goal to build a border wall, deregulate business, and cut taxes in jeopardy.
But, on the more positive side, however, the outcome of the midterms may inspire more transparency from the Executive as President Trump negotiates trade deals with Japan and the European Union. And as much a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives puts the Republican agenda in jeopardy, a Republican-controlled Senate creates a roadblock for the progressive agenda indicative in the Democrat’s more radical policies.
And there are the long-term implication, as well. The Republican’s control of the Senate will make it difficult for the Democrat’s to gain control over it in 2020. However, it also revealed the necessity for the Republican Party to expand its conservative base, especially in lieu of the 2020 Presidential election. In the 2000, 2004, and 2016 Presidential elections, a switch of only 150,000 votes would have nullified all of them.
The midterm election resulted in a victory for neither the Democrats nor the Republicans. It did not deliver the much-prophesied blue wave for the Democrats and it didn’t allow the Republicans to retain control of Congress. What the midterms produced was a balanced, moderate Congress. The manner in which people choose to interpret the results of this election will depend largely upon their political orientation. Both Democrats and Republicans have the choice to see the results as either a triumph or a defeat. And exactly how they react will determine how well their party does at the next Presidential election.
Who knows what will happen at the next Presidential election. Two years can be a lifetime in politics.
President Trump has issued another executive order to extend and broaden the travel band that expired on Sunday.
The new travel ban will be more impervious to challenges from the Supreme Court, and will require foreign governments to improve their identity management, issue more secure passports, identify serious criminals, and provide information on known or suspected terrorists.
The new travel makes changes to the immigration policy the US has with different countries. The travel ban on Sudan has been lifted. North Korea, Chad, and Venezuela have been added to the list of banned countries (although this ban only extends to North Korean and Venezuelan government officials). Libya, Somalia, Iran, Syria, and Yemen will remain.
The White House has stated that the new travel ban has created a new “baseline for information sharing to support visa and immigration vetting determinations.” President Trump stated:
“Following an extensive review by the Department of Homeland Security, we are taking action today to protect the safety and security of the American people by establishing a minimum security baseline for entry into the United States. We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the past, which present an unacceptable danger to our country. My highest obligation is to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and in issuing this new travel order, I am fulfilling that sacred obligation.”
Tuesday – President Trump has threatened to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t pass a spending bill that includes financing for the US-Mexico border wall.
Trump stated at a political rally in Phoenix, Arizona, Trump stated:
“The obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”
Trump went on to remind the crowd that he had been elected to bring down illegal immigration and boost national security. He then accused the Democrats of hurting national security and putting American lives at risk, stating:
“Let me be very clear to Democrats in Congress who oppose a border wall and stand in the way of border security: you are putting all of American’s safety at risk.”
Trump’s immigration policy has received support from conservatives in the congress. House Freedom Caucus Chairman, Republican. Congressman from North Carolina, Mark Meadows, stated:
“I applaud President Trump for his leadership on this issue and for his relentless commitment to keeping a promise that was central to his campaign. Congress would do well to join the President and follow through on our own promises by including funding for a border wall in upcoming spending bills–anything less will show that we are not serious about keeping our word to the American people.”
Similarly, Republican Congressman from Virginia, Dave Brat, stated in support:
“The American people placed their trust in the President and Republicans in Congress last November with the expectation that we would finally take action to secure the border. Our country is the melting pot of the world and I support legal immigration, but legal immigrants and American workers should not have to compete with illegal aliens for jobs. Our country was founded upon the rule of law and it is important that we hold to those principles. It is time for Congress to step up and keep the promises we made to the American people by joining with the President to fully fund construction of a border wall and ensure the U.S. Border Patrol has the resources they need to secure our border.”
Whilst, Republican Congressman from Texas, Louie Gohmer, urged the United States to work with Mexico to end illegal immigration:
“The best thing we can do for BOTH the United States and Mexico is to secure our border. Thankfully, we have a President who understands and is committed to that. A nation founded on laws that apply to everyone, where neither rich nor poor or supposed to be above the law, must have the law enforced to maintain its integrity, fairness, justice and opportunity. If we secure and enforce our border properly, Mexico’s drug cartels are reduced dramatically, which reduces corruption and lawlessness in Mexico, and, thereby, helps Mexico finally achieve its place as one of the top economies and vibrant countries in the world.
A good neighbour would help Mexico in this way, which also returns America back to being a nation where the law matters and where we can continue to allow more lawful entries into the United States than any other country in the world. Thankfully, we have a President who not only understands the importance of security and the rule of law, but is doing all he can to make such security, propriety, and opportunity a reality.”
A heated exchange between Trump advisor Stephen Miller and CNN speech-giver Jim Acosta over the Trump Administration’s new immigration policy has illustrated the implicit bias and ignorance of the mainstream media.
The exchange began when Acosta quoted the poem on the Statue of Liberty. The poem, Emma Lazarus’ “the New Colossus”, goes:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbour that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
“The Statue of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world for people to send their people to this country, and they’re not always going to speak English Stephen, they’re not always going to be highly skilled.”
Miller responded by correctly pointing out that the poem had been added to the base of the Statue of Liberty in 1903 – two decades after it had been installed, and reminded Acosta that the poem had never encapsulated US immigration policy. He then went on to challenge Acosta on the supposed principle encapsulated by the poem:
“In 1990s, when we let in half a million people a year, was that violating or not violating the law of the land? Tell me what years meet Jim Acosta’s definition of the Statue of Liberty per law of the land. You’re saying a million a year is the Statue of Liberty number — 900,000 violates, 800,000 violates it.”
Acosta then changed tactics by suggesting that the requirement for immigrants to speak English was racist, arguing that it would “only bring in people from Britain and Australia.” Miller responded by accusing Acosta of having a ‘cosmopolitan bias‘:
“Jim, I just got to say, I am shocked by your statement, that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree that in your mind … this is an amazing moment … that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants that do speak English from all over the world.”
Jim Acosta has claimed victory over Stephen Miller, commenting: “I think what you just saw in the briefing room is that he [Miller] really just couldn’t take that kind of heat and exploded before our eyes.”
However, it was Stephen Miller that won the argument. Miller remained calm, used arguments that required reason and evidence, and called out Acosta’s biases and ignorance at the appropriate moments. Miller argued using facts, Acosta argued using emotions. In the end, it is Acosta, and by extension the left-wing media, that have been shamed.
President Donald Trump has joined Republican Senator for Arkansas, Tom Cotton, and Republican Senator for Georgia, David Perdue, in reworking the “Reform American Immigration for a Strong Economy” act (RAISE). This act will help Trump to fulfil his campaign promise to reform the immigration problem.
Trump told reporters that the Raise Act will “reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayers billions of dollars.” Trump went on to say:
“This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first, and that puts America first.”
A press release from the White House states that the current US immigration rate does not prioritise highly skilled immigrants over immigrants with low skills or no skills. At the moment, only six-percent of the one-million immigrants the US accepts annually emigrate because of their skills. Instead, the US has experienced decades of emigres with little to no skills. (To make matters worse, fifty-percent of immigrant households receive welfare compared to thirty-percent of native households). According to the release, the mass influx of cheap, unskilled labour has depressed wages and harmed vulnerable Americans.
The RAISE act seeks to replace the current permanent employment-visa framework, especially the diversity visa lottery system, with a new system which rewards applicants based on their merits. This system, which echoes similar immigration system in Australia and Canada, selects immigrants based on their level of education, their ability to speak English, their past achievements, and their entrepreneurial initiative.
CNN host, Fareed Zakaria, has blamed the defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election on the insecurities of white working men. Zakaria told CNN’s New Day that the election of Donald Trump was really “a kind of class rebellion against people like us, educated professionals who live in cities, who have cosmopolitan views about things.”
Zakaria went on to explain:
“A real sense of cultural alienation, older, white, noncollege education Americans have, a sense that their country is changing because of immigrants. Because maybe blacks are rising up to a central place in society, because gays being afforded equal rights. Because of, frankly, working women. Everybody is muscling in on the territory that the white working man had.”
Zakaria’s comments seem to come from a piece he had written for CNN. The piece, entitled Why Trump Won, chalked Trump’s victory up to a division of Americans along four lines.
First, Zakaria blames capitalism. Zakaria claims that the US economy only enriches those with education, training, and capital. Second, Zakaria blames culture, claiming that whites are bucking against increasing rights for gays, the rise of African-Americans and Hispanics to a more central place in society, and increases in immigration. Third, Zakaria claims animosity towards elites led many white working class men to vote for Trump. Fourth, Zakaria claims that the advent of social media now means many Americans have access to seemingly unlimited number of news sources, rather than just the original two or three.
Zakaria’s views are indicative of what drove many to vote for Trump in the first place. He, like many on the left, believes Trump’s election victory is the result of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, and jealousy. This rhetoric, which is blaming white voters for Clinton’s defeat, reeks of arrogance and snobbery. Ordinary people are sick of being insulted in this manner. Mr. Zakaria, shame on you.