Reader beware! Most of the time I try to write objectively, although, based on some of your comments, some of you might dispute that. But, every so often I post a bog of pure opinion. In those cases, like now, I give fair warning. Liberals beware! Never-Trumpers beware! To paraphrase the late singer Lesley Gore “it’s my blog, and I can write what I want to.”
In my last blog about the mid-terms a few days ago I reminded you of the late Speaker Tip O’Neill’s oft-repeated quote that “all politics is local.” I don’t know the context of that quote, but I believe, normally, it is true with respect to mid-term elections. For example, wherever you might live I would wager there are local issues on which voters are focusing in this election, for example, crime, taxes, schools, local corruption, etc. These issues tend to get overshadowed during a presidential election.
That said, my observation is that more than any other time I can remember this election is about a person who is not even on the ballot. I am speaking, of course, about President Trump. Approximately half the country hates him, and half loves him. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone with a pulse who has no opinion on him one way or the other.
In my opinion, this election has become a referendum on the president, both personally and politically. If you doubt me, just turn on the news. Every day, the “fake news” tv stations, and we all know who they are, run stories that obscure, twist, or ignore the truth. He is to blame for everything and anything. A killing spree by a maniacal gunman? Trump inspired him. Preventing the caravan from entering the US? Trump is a racist and a misogynist. The divisiveness of the country? Trump, again. He has been compared to Hitler, Stalin and other hateful characters. Some critics have even extended those traits to his voters. “If you support him, you must be evil, a racist, a Nazi,” and so on. He even gets blamed for the weather, due to his stance on climate change.
To a large extent, he has created and fostered this situation with respect to the elections. For better or worse, he has been campaigning tirelessly for those candidates he perceives will support him and his policies. He likes it; the candidates welcome his support; and he is really, really good at it. Most of his predecessors have declined to do this, preferring to go about their business and be “presidential.” That is not his style. In my view, he has been as responsible for turning the oft-predicted “blue wave” into a trickle as anyone.
In this election cycle, indeed, in any election cycle, I always try to cut through all the “BS” and “white noise” spouted by politicians, the media, and “know-nothing” celebrities and simply ask myself “am I better off today than I was two (or four) years ago? Is the country?” Once I have answered those questions, it becomes apparent for whom I should be voting. So, in this election:
1. Is the economy better? Yes. Record low unemployment, high jobs creation, middle class wage increases. Tax cut that, directly or indirectly, on balance, has benefitted most people.
2. Stock market up? Yes, substantially so since Trump took office. If you own a retirement account, as most of us do, its value has increased considerably.
3. Do you feel safer, more secure? Yes, again. ISIS has been decimated. The Korean peninsula is quiet. Kim has not been lobbing missiles over Japan or the US. The US has been re-asserting itself around the world, supporting allies, like Israel, and standing up to those who have been taking advantage of us, such as China, Russia and even NATO.
So, the answers to the most important issues for me are “yes,” “yes” and “yes.” Things are not perfect. They never are. For example, our borders need to be made more secure, and the healthcare issue needs to be resolved. But, Trump has only been in office for 20 months and he has had to deal with a hostile media and a sometimes unsupportive Congress. Hence, the need for his aggressive campaigning.
I expect that Trump will, on balance, have a positive impact on these elections. We all know that, historically, the party out of power does very well, often even regaining control of one or both Houses of Congress. I hope and expect that the Dems’ success will be more muted this time.
Incidentally, I find it most amusing that, in a break from past custom and protocol, former President Obama has found it necessary to campaign aggressively, although I think he’s more focused on defending his increasingly tarnished legacy and criticizing President Trump’s administration than assisting any individual Dem candidate. I don’t recall any former president doing that in a mid-term. Of course, he can do whatever he wants, but it strikes me as somewhat desperate. Well, at least we are being spared from seeing the Clintons.
Incidentally, where are the other presumptive Dem leaders, such as Pelosi, Schumer, Warren and Sanders? Why aren’t they campaigning for others? Just saying.
Tomorrow is the big day. Take the time to vote! This election will likely be pivotal to the country’s future.