SYNDICATED COLUMN: Democrats Could Lose Again in 2018

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You’re reading this, so you probably follow political punditry. And if you follow political punditry, you’ve been hearing the usual corporate suspects predict that one of two things will happen in this fall’s midterm elections: either the Democrats will win big (win back the Senate), or they’ll win really big (the House too). Outta the way, Congressional Republicans: here comes the Big Blue Wave!

Of course, these are the same clowns who called it big for President Hillary. Yet on and on they yammer, and we have to listen to them since big-money political media won’t hire anyone who has a clue.

Interestingly, there are early warning signs — just as there were throughout the 2016 presidential race — that Democrats may be counting their electoral chickens before they’re aborted.

“The Democratic advantage on the generic congressional ballot, which asks people whether they’ll vote for Democrats or Republicans for Congress, has dwindled since the heart of the tax debate in December,” Nate Cohn reports in The New York Times. “Then, nearly all surveys put Republicans behind by double digits. Now, poll averages put the Democratic lead at only around six or seven percentage points…the last two weeks of polls have gone further than a reversion to the mean. They’re arguably the best two weeks of polls for Republicans since the failure of the Senate health care bill in July. A highly sensitive poll average — like the FiveThirtyEight tracker — might put the Democratic lead down to roughly six points, basically the lowest level since the spring.”

As Cohn notes, there are nine long months to go before November. Things can and will change. Historically, the party in power usually gets “shellacked” during midterm elections. Democrats hope that voters will punish GOP senators and representatives as proxies for their party’s incredibly unpopular standardbearer.

People hate Trump. Yet Democrats have good cause for concern. Americans vote their pocketbooks, and their wallets are feeling better than they have in a long time. Unemployment hasn’t been this low since 9/11 — to the point that employers are complaining about labor shortages. Consumer confidence hasn’t been this high since Bill Clinton was president. Most people don’t own stocks, but the Dow is soaring — and that’s usually better for jobs than the other way around. Fuel prices have been lower. Like it or not (I don’t), the GOP’s tax bill is becoming more popular.

Given what a turd Trump is, you’d think the booming economy might not be enough to keep voters from turning out against incumbent Republicans this fall. But you’d be forgetting the Democratic Party’s inimitable talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Democrats are still hobbled by the same internal divisions that led to Clinton’s defeat. The Bernie progressives have the energy and the momentum but the DNC is still under the Clintonista jackboot. In most Republican districts, the Democratic challenger is a corporate right-winger Bernie’s peeps won’t care enough to drag themselves to the polls on a rainy Tuesday in November. A lot of them (women, people of color) play to identity politics over class-based populism — that was a loser in 2016, and it could easily bomb again this year.
The biggest issue for the Democrats is their lack of issues or, more precisely, their lack of a coherent platform of policies with which to unify scores of local campaigns into a national referendum, as Newt Gingrich did for the GOP with his Contract for America in 1994.

What would the Dems do if they got their sweep? No one knows.

Would they impeach Trump? They’re not saying.

Would they repeal the Trump tax law? Probably not (but they should say they would).

Would Democrats push for a higher minimum wage? A national abortion-rights bill? Cutting back NSA surveillance? Bringing back troops from Afghanistan and Iraq? Closing Gitmo? Probably none of the above — so why would left-of-center voters get excited about more of the same?

Democrats aren’t promising anything. Voters may take them at their word — and let the Republicans keep on keeping on.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall) is co-author, with Harmon Leon, of “Meet the Deplorables: Infiltrating Trump America,” an inside look at the American far right, out now. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

11 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Democrats Could Lose Again in 2018

  1. “Unemployment hasn’t been this low since 9/11 — to the point that employers are complaining about labor shortages.”

    Well I agree with general points, but as for this sentence above: Only U3 unemployment hasn’t been this low since 9/11 and that is in good-part because Obama reduced the number of people who would be eligible to be included on U3. People aren’t unemployed people are just “leaving the labor force” more then they have for decades: https://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet
    (and since we are talking about how people feel, I bet if you interview those people they will feel very “unemployed” even though they don’t count towards it.)

    Similarly if you actually ask the people looking for jobs the labor shortage isn’t actually a labor shortage, it is a shortage of labor that hasn’t been unemployed too long (read “ever”) and is willing to work for way less then it is worth, here is a nice random cross-section of people actually looking and being denied (jobs that are hard to fill mostly because they are waaaay underpaid): https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/6ojp3t/employers_of_reddit_what_jobs_are_you_finding_to/?sort=top

    I know lots of unemployed and underemployed people looking for work – problem is many of them have been unemployed so now they can’t be considered for most jobs. Similarly, but on the other side of the coin, even though I am not looking for another job I keep getting job offers for low pay intro work. For instance each week for the last two weeks I get a direct notification from HR peeps Amazon trying to sell me on being a “warehouse associate” with the glorious ability to work up to a (not-so-)full 30 hours a week! These people are baffled that I don’t want to quit my job as VP of a pharmaceutical company and work for nothing in comparison. They also don’t want to make the offers to any of the people I know who would actually want said jobs, which is non-zero. So basically this “labor shortage” isn’t of the regular variety, rather it is a shortage of labor that is already working but looking to change jobs to worse ones for lower pay – I wonder why there could be so few individuals available? Clearly the economy must be overheated! FREE MARKET EFFICIENCY!

  2. Speaking of the tax bill & the market & Trump’s insistence that The Economy will improve and The Common Man will bring home more money…

    My IRA has taken a huge hit as the market’s been dropping the past week. Analysts say it’s because the rich folk are scared that the poor folk are going to bring home more money, thereby causing the end of civilization as we know it.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

    MAGA!

  3. I fave a problem with the cartoon attached to this column. Hitler turned out to be nothing like the Great Dictator, but in real life, Mussolini was a lot as he was portrayed in the movie. Nazism is not Fascism. If one reads too much, Fascism wasn’t so bad:

    “He lived too close to Fascism in Italy to share the opposing enthusiasms of his countrymen. He saw it neither as a calamity. nor as a rebirth; as a rough improvisation merely. He disliked the men who were edging themselves into power around him, but English denunciations sounded fatuous and dishonest and for the past three years he had given up his English newspapers. The German Nazis he knew to be mad and bad. Their participation dishonoured the cause of Spain…” –Evelyn Waugh, Men at Arms

  4. “[E]ither the Democrats will win big (win back the Senate), or they’ll win really big (the House too).”

    More evidence here for the denial by Democrats of the existence of two functioning and major media bubbles, one of which they can’t (or dare not) see.

    We have here two major media mobs each seeing themselves, each as if in a hall of mirrors and alone, each with their own “truth” invisible to the other.

    People with short (24 hour) memories (an accommodation to the 24 hour news cycle) will soon have forgotten the great confidence with which a comfortable Hillary victory was forecast in one of the two major media bubbles (the one that was wrong).

    Democrats need to remember how Hillary did not win the stipulated election in 2016, despite how certain that election’s outcome seemed to be (to them) in the first days of November 2016, while the other media mob and its “truth” remained invisible to them until the election results were in.

    It’s unbelievable how Democrats will write off states as too deplorable in which to find issues to run on and win on, and too unlike the financial parasites they aspire to be friends with (“friends” meaning here those having assets sufficient to enable mutually beneficent exchange of money favors).

    • The Republicans have only 8 Senate seats up for re-election. The rest are all Democrat seats won in ’12, and they won’t have the same Democrat turnout in the midterms. That’s for starters. Then there’s Gerald Mander and James Corvus, who always work hard for the Republicans.

      The party in the White House almost always loses the mid-terms, but ‘loses’ just means they end up with fewer Senators and House Members. The Republicans can lose 1 Senate seat (counts as losing) and still control the Senate, and they can lose 29 House seats and still be in control of the House.

  5. Yeah, I was watching FOX “news” today just to see how they were spinning the memo bullshit and they were talking about tax cuts. Asking if people had seen bonus money in their paychecks and if they had thought about what they were going to buy. It was sickening.
    On a separate topic, one GOP puppet even said he didn’t like temporary spending bills but he voted for the last one because it contained “elements that advanced their policy agenda” (PORK).
    Wow! It’s bold to admit that shit on national TV! Dems can’t do anything about it, and the GOP base is too dumb to understand what’s going on.

  6. Well, Ted, one could always be optimistic and hope that Mr Trump and his generals (with, of course, total support from the congressional Democrats»)will launch WW III before November this year, thus rendering those US congressional elections moot – consider the unspoken assumptions lying behind this article by one of the more «cautious» participants in the discussion about whether the US should attack the DPRK, before the latter attains sufficient power to deter any such….

    Henri

    • Good article.

      Kim gave a speech about a week ago that, while his father and grandfather built up an arsenal that could destroy a lot of US investments in the RoK, he has no animus towards his brothers and sisters in the RoK, and all his weapons are aimed at the US. He has no plans for massive loss of Korean or Japanese life in retaliation for a US strike (as an outdated article claimed http://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/north-korea-nuclear-war-how-it-happen-us-twitter-donald-trump-reaction-a8173391.html).

      We know Kim has nukes at least 10 times larger than the ones the US used on Japan, and that he has ICBMs that can reach the east coast of the US. Not clear if those missiles can carry nukes and make it through re-entry to hit a US city, but he could manage an EMP strike that doesn’t require re-entry: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/north-korea-us-attack-emp-power-grid-kill-90-per-cent-american-population-electromagnetic-pulse-a8002756.html
      So, if the US decides to utterly destroy the DPRK, Kim probably has MAD. He says he does, and he’s showing 10,J,Q, and K, plus his hole card that we can’t see. Call his hand and find out???

      And I keep reading in the New York Times comments (by people who think Kim plans to nuke the RoK), ‘Nuke him now. it’s worth losing all US assets in the RoK to keep America safe.’

      • «And I keep reading in the New York Times comments (by people who think Kim plans to nuke the RoK), ‘Nuke him now. it’s worth losing all US assets in the RoK to keep America safe.’» Apart from «US assets», there is, of course, nothing in the southern half of Korea that would lead anyone in the US to worry about it being destroyed…. 😉

        Henri

  7. Man, the GOPranoes & their corporate collaborators hit the nail on the head with their tax bill.

    Their populist base hears ‘tax cuts’ and cream their jeans. It never occurs to them that it’s not *their* taxes which are being cut – but rather the *real* GOP base of oligarchs. Said oligarchs are playing it up by giving out bonuses, further convincing the sheep that those cuts are going to do them some good. Yeah, right.

    Daddy Warbucks: “That’s one for me, and one for you. And a million for me, and one for you. And a billion for me and one for you…”

    sheep: “Gee willikers! I got three whole dollars! MAGA!”

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