American Politics After 2016

To The Reader’s Forum:

2019 is a time to look backward and forward. 2017 brought Donald Trump, Twitter, the DOJ/Mueller investigation, fractures in alliances, and “national division” front and center. 2018 brought massive tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy combined with a roller coaster economy that projects over a trillion dollars in federal deficits, myriad “scandals” and other conflicts within Trump’s Administration, and a partial government shutdown. 2019 brings us continued “shutdown”, continued DOJ investigation, divided government (the House now controlled by Democrats), and, as usual, many questions about what comes next.

First, is the “shutdown” — federal workers and services are not “Democrat” issues so funding the government is not a negotiating position. Holding workers and the American people hostage over “border security” is like the incredulous Vietnam War tactic of “destroying a village to save it.” C’mon Rep. Reed, call in the “Problem Solvers Caucus” and prove your worth.

Second, I don’t foresee impeachment by the House Democrats for two reasons: 1) currently insufficient “legal” evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, and 2) less than 23 Republican Senators voting to convict – no matter what. Also, Trump should not be impeached “by association” no matter who else falls. Impeachment is extremely serious, which is why the threat of it worked against Nixon and why it failed against Clinton. There are potential scenarios, but I suspect the 2020 election will decide whether Trump stays or goes.

I foresee House Democrats actively performing “oversight” of the DOJ investigation, but need to be careful how it’s done. They will try to push legislation on reforming healthcare and taxes for the middle class and legislation on immigration and infrastructure. However, the House will only get things “done” with cooperation from the Senate and, unfortunately, Leader McConnell is not “leading”– he plays to the whim of Trump. The Senate had been called the “conscience” of government, but has deferred to the so-called “conscience” of Trump.

I also foresee continued economic instability and a worsening of decay in America’s infrastructure inasmuch as money will be unavailable without further ballooning of debt or reversing tax policy for corporations and the wealthy. The former potentially hurts the middle class and poor while the latter is a political liability. History shows that Trump and Republicans fear the latter the most.

In sum, America will be on a very bumpy road for at least the near future — anything might happen.

Paul L. Demler