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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.
The Trump administration has officially backed legislation that will ban abortions after twenty weeks. A statement from the White House read:
“The bill, if enacted into law, would help to facilitate the culture of life to which our Nation aspires. Additionally, the bill would promote a science-based approach to unborn life, as recent advancements have revealed that the physical structures necessary to experience pain are developed within 20 weeks of fertilization”
The bill, which is labelled the ‘Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act‘, is being sponsored by Republican Congressman from Arizona, Trent Franks. Under the bill, anyone who performs or attempts to perform an abortion on a fetus twenty-weeks or older will face criminal penalties, including a fine or a term of imprisonment of up to five years. Naturally, exceptions have been made which will allow women to utilise the medical procedure after the deadline if her life is in danger or if she is a victim of rape or incest.
As if on cue, the bill has faced a strong backlash from morally repugnant pro-choice groups, who have slammed it as ‘cruel’ and ‘unconstitutional’ (because America’s founding fathers totally believed in the right to murder unborn babies). Heather Boonstra of The Hill condemned it as an attempt to “politicise women’s health, limit access to abortion care and stigmatise people who need later abortions” (the accusation of ‘politicising’ women in any way is a little rich coming from the left). Similarly, Planned Parenthood tweeted: “20 week abortion bans are: unpopular, unconstitutional, part of the agenda to ban ALL abortion.”
President Trump unleashed a new plan for tax reform in a speech at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds on Wednesday.
The plans are the product of discussions between White House Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, the House Ways and Means Chairman, Kevin Brady, the Senate Finance Chairman, Orrin Hatch, House Speaker, Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and White House economic policy chief, Gary Cohn. Their purpose will be to strengthen the middle class, grow the economy, and engender economic recovery by broadening the tax base, closing loopholes, and fostering growth.
According to a press release by the Treasury Department, the reforms will mean that less of the earnings of middle-class families will be subject to Federal income tax, and will reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three: 12%, 25%, and 35%. It will also increase child tax credits and repeal the death tax and alternative minimum tax.
For business, the reforms seek to reduce the corporate tax rate to 20% and limit the taxation imposed on small and family-based businesses operating as sole proprietorships and small businesses corporations to 25%.
“This has been a long time coming. Instead of a source of pride, our tax code has become a constant source of frustration. It’s too big. It’s too complicated. It’s too expensive. Today, we are taking the next step to liberate America from our broken tax code.”
Similarly, the House Freedom Caucus, which is comprised of Congress’ most conservative members, said in a statement:
“President Trump has delivered a forward-looking tax reform framework that will let hard-working Americans keep more of their money, simplify our system, end carve-outs for special interests, and will help make our businesses competitive abroad. The Freedom Caucus looks forward to sending a final bill based on this framework to President Trump’s desk as soon as possible.”
The former Democrat Congressman and front-runner for mayor of New York, Anthony Weiner, has been sentenced to twenty-one months in a Federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for child pornography offences.
Weiner pled guilty in May to charges of transferring obscene material to a minor, a crime which carries a maximum penalty of ten years.
During the sentencing, Weiner begged for leniency and wept on several occasions. He told the court:
“The crime I committed was my rock bottom. I have lost so much and appropriately so … I long ago forfeited the right to ask for the benefit of the doubt from you or from anyone.”
Prosecutors had sought a two-year custodial sentence. However, Weiner’s attorneys argued that their client’s “remarkable process” over the past year and the fact he had never attempted to meet with the victim warranted a lighter sentence. Judge Denise Cotes dismissed the defence’s argument, stating Weiner’s crime was serious enough to warrant jail time.
Disgraced former Democrat Congressman from New York, Anthony Weiner, is facing up to ten years in prison when he is sentenced on September 25th for sending sexually explicit images of himself to a minor.
Court papers filed by prosecutors this week alleges that on two occasions, February 18th and 23rd 2016, Weiner used graphic and obscene language to convince a fifteen-year-old girl to expose herself and masturbate while he watched on Skype. The court papers also allege at Weiner, 53, was aware of the fact that girl was underage.
Prosecutors are asking that a two-year jail sentence be imposed on Weiner who pleaded guilty in May to sending sexually explicit images of himself to a minor. Weiner pled guilty as a part of a plea bargain that would mean he would only have to serve a sentence of twenty-one to twenty-seven months.
Speaking at Corpus Christi, President Trump praised Texas’ response to Hurricane Harvey:
“We want to do it better than ever before. We want to be looked at in five years and ten years from now as, this is the way to do it. This was of epic proportion. No one has ever seen anything like this.”
President Trump went on to say:
“I just want to say in working with the Governor and his entire time has been an honour for us.”
President Trump then travelled to Austin where he spoke at an emergency operations centre:
“Probably there’s never been anything so expensive in our country’s history. There’s never been anything so historic in terms of damage and in terms of ferocity as we’ve witnessed with Harvey.”
President Trump continued:
“And the sad thing is the never seen anything this long, and nobody’s ever seen this much water in particular. The wind was pretty horrific, but the water has never been seen like this to the extent. It’s maybe someday going to disappear. We keep waiting.”
The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood watch for Houston on Tuesday evening. A spokesperson said:
“There is the potential for catastrophic flooding over the next several days as Tropical Storm Harvey moves inland and slowly over southeastern Texas. Additional rainfall totals of 15-25 inches are likely with isolated amounts higher through mid next week.”
Meanwhile, Republican Congressman, Pete Sessions, has told MSNBC that east Texas and Lousiana are preparing for flooding. Sessions said:
“What lies ahead for everyone is to make sure that after the trauma of water that everybody has their tetanus shots, that they get their medicine, that we take care of children. Obviously when people get together we then — whether like it or not, we have diarrhoea problems, we have food problems, we have needs of people, we are prepared for the this. I believe the problem is that people are having trouble getting out of Houston because of the bands of rain.”
Ken Storey, a Professor of sociology, has been fired from his job at the University of Tampa in Florida for tweeting:
“I don’t believe in instant Karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully will help them realise the GOP doesn’t care about them.”
Unsurprisingly, numerous mainstream news figures have associated Hurricane Harvey to global warming. Together with guests from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other news outlets, CNN and MSNBC anchors have sought to blame Hurricane Harvey on the Trump administration’s environmental federal policies.