There is no nice way to spin it. Republicans were shellacked in Tuesday’s off-year elections.
In Virginia, Democratic candidate for governor Ralph Northam clobbered Republican candidate Ed Gillespie by nine points. The Republican supermajority in the Virginia House of Delegates was annihilated, with control of the lower house of the state legislature left up to a handful of races that are still too close to call. Suffice to say, as LevinTV host Mark Levin noted, “Democrats won big in Virginia.”
They won elsewhere too. Republican governor Chris Christie will be succeeded by a Democrat in New Jersey. Democrats won mayoral races in Charlotte, N.C., and St. Petersburg, Fla. In Maine, liberal policies won, with voters approving a ballot measure to expand Medicaid. This was a rout.
As we move away from “what happened” to ask “why it happened,” everyone seems to have a simple answer. The mainstream media and NeverTrump pundits want to pin Republican losses solely on President Donald Trump. In their telling, Ed Gillespie tried to run a Trump-inspired and racially tinged campaign against illegal immigrants and sanctuary cities and failed miserably, demonstrating that “Trumpism” is an electoral loser.
On the other side, President Trump tweeted that Ed Gillespie “did not embrace me or what I stand for.” In this telling, Gillespie, an establishment Republican at his core who had already lost a statewide election for Senate in 2014, did not go all in on running on the Trump agenda, and because of this, Trump’s base didn’t turn out to support him.
Each of these explanations makes Tuesday’s election about President Trump. That misses the point entirely. Tuesday’s elections were not a referendum on Trump; they weren’t an explicit rejection of something called “Trumpism” — they were the inevitable result of a Republican party that has spent a year accomplishing nothing.
Since President Trump’s historic victory in 2016 granted Republicans full control of the federal government one year ago today, the Republican Party’s supposed agenda has been completely paralyzed. The only major accomplishment Republicans can claim is the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, which was a foregone conclusion for any elected Republican president. On the issues that are unique to Trump’s campaign, the issues that turned out the Republican base in 2016, Republicans are sliding backwards and to the Left.
GOP kowtowing to corporate interests sank their seven-year promise to fully repeal Obamacare, and now the law is enshrined as an entitlement. A promise-keeping clean repeal bill was dead on arrival thanks to progressive Republicans who view the issue as a third rail. Their capitulation and refusal to deliver on free-market reforms has perversely swayed public opinion to favor Obamacare, as on Tuesday voters in Maine expanded the law. For Americans outraged as insurance premiums continue to skyrocket, the Republican party offers nothing to vote for to fix the problem.
Having given up on repealing Obamacare, now Republicans are set to break another key campaign promise. On the campaign trail, Republicans pledged to pass the “largest tax cut in history.” The plan Republicans have put forward laughably falls short of that talking point. According to the Wall Street Journal, the big tax cut for 84 percent of families making between $75,000 and $100,000 will be “$100 or more.”
An extra hundred bucks is not the big tax cut voters wanted. Worse, “11% in that same income group would get a tax increase of $100 or more.” Over the next ten years, the WSJ projects that fewer than half of U.S. households would get tax cuts, while almost 20 percent of Americans will see a tax increase!
This is how screwed up the Republican Party’s priorities are. They think they can run on small, marginal tax cuts for lower and middle-income households while higher-income households see their tax burden increase at the same time Obamacare insurance premiums are rising by $1,000 per month. Who wants to vote for that?
Meanwhile, Republicans won’t cut a penny from the runaway budget deficit; the national debt has ballooned over $20.4 trillion with no signs of slowing down; and Republicans in Congress are talking about DACA amnesty for illegal immigrants and stalling on the border wall. The party is offering its voters nothing to vote for. At the same time, Democrats have riled their base into an anti-Trump, anti-GOP hysteria and are eager to deliver on their promises of stopping the Trump agenda and impeaching the president should they gain control of Congress.
The results from Tuesday’s election show Republicans are being buried in a hole they’ve dug for themselves. Republican base enthusiasm is way down. If the GOP wants out, they need to give conservatives a reason to show up to vote for them. Repeal Obamacare. Get serious about giving every American a tax cut. Balance tax cuts with spending cuts. Deliver on decades of promises to crack down on illegal immigration.
If Republicans want to stay in power in 2018 and beyond, they just need to keep their campaign promises. Full stop.
If they break their promises, the GOP will suffer more bloodbaths on election day 2018, and the Democrats will reign supreme.
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Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
Obamacare is the Death Star, and it needs to be destroyed.
Conservativism, which is good and decent, ought defend that which is good and decent.