Over the past few days, president Trump has threatened to repeal the 14th Amendment, run one of the most overtly racist, dishonest political ads in history, pledged to hold migrants at the border indefinitely, and accused the Democrats of wanting illegal immigrants to overrun the country and turn America into Venezuela.
In other words, Trump has gone full Trump and made the midterms an explicit referendum on his presidency.
With no prominent Republican willing to curtail the president's appalling behavior and abuses of power, a vote for Republicans is by default, a vote for Trump. If you are casting your ballot for a Republican at any level of government on November 6th, it is now clear that there is no reasoning with you. If these past few days have not convinced you that Trump and the GOP present an imminent danger to the future of democracy in America, there is little anyone can say or do to convince you otherwise.
The president's behavior has been so extreme that even House Republicans believe Trump has "hijacked the election" to their detriment. Reported Politico:
Two days out from an expected Democratic takeover of the House, Republicans focused on the chamber are profoundly worried that Trump’s obsession with all things immigration will exacerbate their losses. Many of these same Republicans welcomed Trump’s initial talk about the migrant caravan and border security two weeks ago, hoping it would gin up the GOP base in some at-risk, Republican-held districts.
But they now fear Trump went overboard — and that it could cost them dearly in key suburban districts, from Illinois to Texas. Many of them have cringed at Trump’s threats to unilaterally end birthright citizenship, as well as his recent racially-tinged ad suggesting that immigrants are police killers. The president's drumbeat, they say, is drowning out news any incumbent president would be negligent not to dwell on: that the economy added a quarter-million jobs last quarter, and unemployment is below 4 percent.
“Trump has hijacked the election,” said one senior House Republican aide of Trump's focus on immigration. “This is not what we expected the final weeks of the election to focus on.”
It is quite remarkable that Republicans would be surprised by this -- they have aided and abetted a madman for three years now and should expect this sort of erratic idiocy. But then this is a party that unashamedly runs alleged pedophiles for the US Senate, alleged rapists to the Supreme Court, and reality TV stars to the presidency.
Who will win?
As it stands, the Democrats are set to sweep the House. Every reputable poll in America has them well ahead of the Republicans in a large number of key races. The Republicans however, will likely keep the Senate.
By historic standards, this should be regarded as a big victory for the Democrats and a rebuke of Trump's presidency. Under President Obama, Democrats lost the House in 2010 but kept the Senate, and that was widely regarded as a huge loss. Granted, the Democrats won't pick up as many seats as they lost in 2010, but it gives them a huge amount of power that they can use to check the president at every turn. Trump knows this and has been desperately running around the country trying to ensure the GOP keeps control of the Senate.
However, the fact that they are not poised to take back both Houses in Congress is somewhat disappointing. The map to a Senate victory has always been extremely difficult, but Trump has provided a perfect opportunity to make a perfect sweep.
Why so close?
If things pan as as predicted (and there are no guarantees they will), then the GOP will still control the presidency, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. It is, for most sane observers, shocking that they could hold onto so many levers of power given Trump's atrocious performance and approval ratings. There is certainly some blame that can be assigned to the Democrats for it being even slightly close, but it is always worth remembering that the Republican Party has worked diligently to undermine American democracy for decades. Through a combination of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and brazen dishonesty, the GOP has cleverly rigged the game to their advantage despite the rapidly declining popularity of their political agenda.
It is also worth mentioning that white America is deeply, deeply racist and xenophobic, making the GOP's job far easier in uncertain times. President Obama certainly made mistakes leading up to 2010, but given he inherited a disastrous economy and a deeply fractured society, he deserved a good amount of leeway. But the GOP tapped into white America's resentment of a black man being in office and shamelessly smeared him for being a Muslim/socialist/foreigner. The tactics worked and Obama was hammered in the midterms and prevented from carrying out much of his agenda in the years afterwards.
Democracy is hard
It is somewhat depressing to realize how much effort has to go into keeping sane people in government. To eke out a partial victory and reclaim some power, the left has had to go through literal hell over the past two years. They have been powerless to stop Trump's war on human decency, and have had to raise hundreds of millions of dollars just to compete with the GOP. Power does not cede control easily, and decent Americans are finding this out the hard way.
The truth is, Trump represents to Americans the easy, lazy way out. He is an overweight, greedy slob who blames everyone else for his problems. Racism and xenophobia are not policies, they are excuses, and Trump has offered them to his supporters guilt free. Many Americans would much rather point the finger at brown people than take a long, hard look in the mirror, and Trump instinctively understands this.
The Battle lines
It is a shame that politics in America is so bitterly divided, but there is one side to blame for this, and the left must not waste time fretting over it. The GOP is now the party of Trump, and they must now deal with the consequences of that. They have long wanted a war for America's future, and now they are getting one. November 6th represents the real beginning of this war, one fought on more equal grounds. Trump will not just be fighting the media, he will be up against a Congress that will have no mercy on him.
It is important to see this clearly for what it is, and more important that you choose your side. The battle lines have been drawn, and you are either with Trump or against him. And if you are still for him at this point, then expect no civility from the other side. You lost that right many years ago and must now reap what you have helped sow.
Correction: This article previously stated that the GOP ran pedophiles for the US Senate and rapists to the Supreme Court. The article has been amended to reflect the fact that they are alleged pedophiles and rapists.