Republicans are looking good and riding high as we approach November. There’s no doubt about that.
As we head into midterms, it looks more and more likely that Republicans will stay in power, ignoring the typical undulation currently seen in voters and possibly even picking up seats. The prophesied “blue wave” that was going to hit America is turning out to be a bucket someone knocked over on accident and wetting a few shoes.
As we go to reelect or put Republicans into office, it’s good to see where some of the party’s highs and lows have been, and grade the party’s work so far since the election of Trump.
The Kavanaugh Factor:
Brett Kavanaugh’s fate was tied to the fate of the GOP. If Republicans failed to defeat the Democrats’ attempts at stopping Kavanaugh from ascending to the Supreme Court, then you could have bet Republican voters would have lost a lot of faith in the party’s leaders. Luckily, Republicans not only held strong against dirty tactics from politicians, media, and activist groups, but some Republicans found new fire and became stars such as Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley, and Orrin Hatch. Not only did they fight back against screaming Democrats and protesters, but they also made us laugh while they did it, further endearing the Republican party to America.
With the Supreme Court now in the hands of constitutionalists for decades to come, it’s safe to say that the handling and the outcome of the entire episode was an A+ for Republicans.
The GOP Tax Cuts:
Arguably one of the most important things the GOP has done, the GOP tax cuts were a masterstroke of the Trump era. Against Democrats’ attempts to stop it with hysterics and activist protests, the GOP managed to cut the vast majority of America’s corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, opening up businesses to give out everything from bonuses to benefits, and creating more jobs by the thousands. Meanwhile, the Democrats’ response was something Republicans could only dream of. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) couldn’t stop bashing the tax breaks that were easing burdens and giving lifts left and right and said up front that if put in power, Democrats would remove them. As I said then, that promise probably would cost them 2018, and while I’m not saying it’s the reason Democrats are failing now, it definitely helped.
Republicans get an A- for this. The only reason I don’t give them full marks is that the tax cuts expire after a decade, though some Republicans are certain they’ll be cemented in place further down the line. Also, I wish they had better messaging on the benefits.
The Debt Ceiling Rises:
While the tax cuts were an epic success, the Republicans’ inability to reign in spending is one of their worst abject failures. In order to avoid a default and a four-day government shut down, Trump went behind the back of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan to strike a deal with Chuck Schumer and Pelosi to raise the debt ceiling. With tax cuts in the books, but too few spending cuts, the GOP threw us further into debt. The GOP scrambled to make a plan to get things under control, but only Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had a five-year plan ready to go while the GOP had nothing. Paul was ignored, though he fought hard, and the GOP put forward a spending bill that raised the caps on everything from infrastructure to college affordability. Meanwhile, the GOP sneered at Paul and his plan that would balance the budget during Trump’s tenure should he be reelected. It left a bad taste in many voter’s mouths, and it’s something we’ll be feeling for a while.
The GOP gets a well-deserved F for this, and it remains one of the nastiest parts of the Trump era to date.
ISIS might have been one of the most horrific organizations to appear on the planet. Their brutal tactics and heartless philosophies earned them the ire of the world. So many innocent people died at the hands of this organization, from the first and third world, that it was a wonder that they grew and prospered in the face of the military might of superpowers like the U.S….and then Trump was elected, and Trump appointed Gen. James Mattis. For what seemed like the first time, the U.S. began taking the ISIS threat seriously. In just a few months time, ISIS was just a bad memory and a stain on the bottom of Mattis’ hefty boots. Not only did the world get to see the organized militaristic might of Trump’s White House, but terrorist organizations also began to lay lower. While attacks still happen, they don’t happen half as much as they did under Obama.
An A+ for every dead ISIS fighter and another for every honest-to-God smile on the faces of those freed from their terror.
This is a mixed bag. That Trump is taking hardline stances against illegal immigration and sanctuary cities is a much-needed thing, but I wish the rest of the GOP were as enthusiastic. Many of us are still waiting to see more, and we’ve been waiting to see more for some time. To be fair, a lot of this is the fault of Democrat efforts to stymie any movement that might really throw border security and immigration reform into overdrive, but Republicans seem to be a bit slower on it than many Americans would like.
While I’m hesitant to give a grade on this before the arrival of the caravan and watching that drama play out, I’d have to say that so far Republicans have earned a B+, as they have the power to move but haven’t thrown into as a high a gear as they should. However, the efforts have been miles away better than what we had under the previous administration.
From here, I’ll just rapid fire a few things that stand out.
Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement: A+
Handling Obamacare: B-
Improving the Economy: B
Growing Jobs: A
Dakota Access Pipeline Completion: A+
TPP Dead: A
Net Neutrality Dead: B+
Criminal Justice Reform: C
Media Wrangling: A
Iran Nuclear Deal: A
Foreign Relations: B+
While there are plenty more things to talk about, listing them here would be exhausting. To sum it up, however, I can easily give Trump and the GOP the rating of A-. While Republicans have been outstanding, room for improvement where it needs to be improved is not only advised but absolutely necessary for the health of our country.
The GOP needs to get deadly serious about immigration, a heap more elimination of entitlements, and putting some serious efforts into criminal justice reform to reduce fallout in minority communities and help them prosper. Obamacare shouldn’t just be crippled, it should be shot in the head twice and burned to ashes. While Trump’s handling of the UN has been fun to watch, his kindness toward North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has been nothing short of gross, and the GOP hasn’t really raised much of a ruckus about it.
And rein in the damn debt.
We still have a lot to look forward to with the GOP looking to actually gain seats in the Senate, and we’ll see how the House plays out, but overall I think Trump and the GOP can be more-or-less happy with what they’ve accomplished.