Feeling helpless? Many are! Worried about the current state of affairs and the future? Join the crowd! But you know, when I think back on the situations that filled me with dread, particularly those that might significantly affect me or my family, I can’t remember even one that turned out as horrible as I had imagined it could. And most weren’t bad at all. It’s uncertainty that really frightens us, I suppose, and we are facing a lot of unknowns these days.
One that’s deeply worrying many Americans is a possible Republican takeover of Congress in 2022 and an election rigged by GOP-controlled states in 2024 that returns former president Donald Trump to the White House. Many left-leaning pundits and Democratic politicians have conjured up fears about a Republican autocracy and the resulting loss of democratic processes in America. I’m not saying their anxiety is unwarranted, but I don’t believe this scenario at all inevitable.
Right now, Trump is running scared for a number of reasons. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has bested him in several straw polls and is appealing to the hard-core Republican base that has been the former president’s greatest political asset. Influential conservative Rich Lowry, editor in chief of National Review, wrote a guest essay for the New York Times in May titled, “Republicans Need a New Leader. They’re Looking to Florida.” In it he stated “The governor is a leader in a new, Trump-inflected party, but without the character flaws and baggage of the former president.” Lowry believes DeSantis represents “the new Republican Party.”
It appears that Trump may soon announce his candidacy for the 2024 GOP nomination in order to discourage potential competitors – and hold off federal and state prosecutors. Some believe the latter objective has the highest priority. Regardless, there are over 100 Republican primary winners who promote Trump’s big lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him, according to a recent Washington Post article. An announcement before the fall midterms would really put Trump and his election fraud claims on the ballot then too, which is something the GOP leadership fears.
Whatever Trump does though probably won’t stop DeSantis, who I believe is preparing to challenge him. One competitor, of course, would undoubtedly draw in a few others, including former VP Mike Pence and several ambitious GOP Senators. Once emboldened, one or more of these ruthless politicians would likely go on the attack against Trump, just like he did against the primary candidates in 2016.
Oh, and let’s not forget the January 6 committee in the U.S. House. Although, most Republicans in Congress and their right-wing supporters have dismissed this oversight effort as a politically motivated witch hunt, it is building a strong case against Trump, which appears to be both substantial and credible. Even though unprecedented, I believe there is a significant possibility that the former president will be indicted for one or more crimes before 2024, either by the U.S. Justice Department or by Fani Willis, the Fulton County, Georgia district attorney. In my opinion, Donald Trump will not be the GOP standard bearer two years hence.
Will Republicans win control of the House and/or the Senate in 2022? Well, it’s certainly possible they could take either or both but I don’t believe it will be like 2010, when then-President Obama admitted that the Democrats got a “shellacking,” not only in the House but in states across the nation.
The House is probably more problematic for Democrats. Over in the Senate, however, they have a better chance of holding a majority. First, there are only 14 Democratic Senators up for reelection compared to 21 for the Republicans. At least three of these who won their GOP primaries, J. D. Vance in Ohio, Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Hershel Walker in Georgia are struggling. They remind me of 2012 when the Republicans ran some – shall we say – wacko candidates who lost big time. Democratic control of the Senate would allow the president to appoint more federal judges, which is a really big deal, even if no significant legislation is passed in 2023 and 2024.
Many say the major factor influencing the midterms is the economy. Well, the June jobs report was surprisingly strong, as the unemployment rate stayed at a record low 3.6%. The price of oil is trending down, which should mean a cheaper gallon of gas and the supply chain crisis is easing, which would help moderate inflation. If the Federal Reserve can avoid creating a recession with interest rate hikes before November, that should improve the sour mood of voters who seem to be more focused on their pocketbooks than Republican threats to democracy.
Also on the positive side, Democrats can tout the bipartisan infrastructure package they engineered, the first gun safety legislation passed in decades and the significant increases in wages that accompanied the great jobs numbers. They and their supporters need to begin accentuating the positive and shake off the gloom and doom.
The political situation is nowhere near hopeless. We the people have the power – perhaps the only power – to prevent Republican autocrats from taking over and the first thing is to financially support and vote for qualified candidates who share our concerns and beliefs. Each and every one of us matters and is a valuable asset in the democracy-saving process.
So, let’s get with the program.