The dominos are beginning to fall.
The desperation from the administration of President Donald Trump will soon reach a fever pitch. The political reality for the past year since Trump beat Hillary Clinton is that many things the president has done have been embarrassing and even humiliating to fellow Republicans, but they were slow to do anything about it because of the potential loss of political capital. Supporting white supremacists after a protest turned deadly in Charlottesville, failing to contact Gold Star families who lost loved ones and then failing to show empathy when he called one widow in Florida, along with daily Twitter rants would be enough to put previous presidents in hot water. But the Republicans in Congress don’t want to risk losing legislative power — even if it means overlooking Russia tampering with our 2016 election and the winning campaign coming ever closer to having its collusion with that foreign power proven by the Special Counsel’s investigation.
As I have said each time a Republican won a seat left vacant after a GOP lawmaker was appointed to serve in the new administration, until Trump’s unpopularity in polls and the outrage his actions and Twitter feed cause begin to mean losses at the voting booth, there will be an invisible shield around him.
Then came Tuesday night.
Virginia’s gubernatorial race was very much about the Trump agenda against a Democratic platform. The Democrat, Ralph Northam, won by nine points. No one saw that coming.
The Virginia Republicans in the House of Delegates lost at least 15 seats to Democrats and — if even one of the four recounts from Tuesday night goes in favor of a Democrat — the GOP no longer even has a majority in the state legislature. With a Democrat in the Lieutenant Governor’s office, a 50-50 tie wouldn’t favor Republicans.
Even in Maine, under crazy Governor Paul LaPage, the voters of the state cast ballots in favor of expanding Medicaid in the state. Democrats also took the New Jersey Governor’s office back after eight years of Chris Christie.
Oklahoma legislators were still laboring in an expensive special session trying to fund basic services in the state as Tuesday night’s votes were being cast. Democrats in the state had won several special elections that were called when representatives left office.
Most in the state saw those districts turning blue as anomalies because of the incredibly small voter turnout. After Tuesday night, it appears a blue wave to rival the 2010 Republican Rally could be in the making.
Fundamentally, the case is easy to make. Republicans have failed to get any of the big campaign platform promises accomplished in the first year of the Trump Administration. Even with executive order disruption of funding and processes, Obamacare is neither repealed nor replaced. The tax cut agenda item is still in process and is anything but an easy win. The magical wall to protect our southern border is nothing more than a pipe dream at this point.
Because of the controversies and investigations, coupled with his own personal problems, Trump’s approval rating is near historic lows.
Can that translate into changes in Oklahoma in the 2018 Governor’s race and legislative races? I think it could. Voters have shown they are ready to take away the GOP supermajorities as basic services like health care and education struggle with funding. Republican lawmakers have now completely drained a healthy Rainy Day Fund and the state has nothing but another revenue hole to show for it.
In Oklahoma, Trump’s approval rating is still over 50 percent, up 11 to 12 percent over the national polls. However, the legislators have already lost the trust of the voters here and that will only exacerbate national political issues at the local level.
After the Virginia, New Jersey and Maine votes were counted, President Trump proved there is seemingly no limit to things he doesn’t know. He can’t name the President of the Virgin Islands — fun fact, Trump is the President of the Virgin Islands. Trump also believes that people pay $12 per year for health insurance. Fun fact, if that were true, I would be paying about three to four year’s worth every month.
President Trump also doesn’t know political science.
Trump claimed Ed Gillespie’s problem was that he didn’t embrace Trump and his philosophy enough to beat Northam Tuesday. Gillespie ran ads about murderous Mexican gangs, protecting Confederate statues and supporting tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class.
The only thing this Gillespie didn’t do that Trump did is get caught on video telling Billy Bush about how fun it is to sexually assault women.
Trump was quick to throw Gillespie under the bus and try to save face. But the effectiveness of these ploys is diminishing as votes are counted.
Republican representatives and senators are retiring or resigning at an accelerating pace. Many of them are growing tired of having as many problems — and sometimes more — dealing with people in their same party as they did the past eight years under Barack Obama.
Tuesday’s results are already being seen as a major morale boost for Democrats. Better candidates are willing to take the chance when they feel the momentum flowing in their favor. The chilling effect on new Republican candidates could also become an issue as good people wait for the situation to resolve itself before they put their names on the ballot. Who would want to fight against Steve Bannon and his minions on the right and an emboldened Democrat from the left?
Trumpism is beginning to have an effect at the ballot box. As Robert Mueller’s indictments are unsealed, members of Congress are less likely to wink and roll with the punches as they see an electoral storm on the horizon.
Trump doesn’t have long to turn this around before his impeachment is offered as a sacrifice to try to keep the GOP in the White House.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.