It’s early August but summer is already taking its dying breaths. Labor Day is almost here and that means midterm campaign season is about to go full bore after months of angry politics. For anyone who wants to hold political office the temperature is about to get turned way up. The national climate is ugly.
There are four lessons for candidates to remember from the issues that festered over the summer.
Four lessons for candidates to remember
Lesson 1: 3.9% unemployment is an economic failure
That’s right. A failure. Low unemployment and improving economic growth are not things we should be happy about. If you are a Democrat they are an abject failure because they come from Republican tax relief:
Today’s jobs report highlights the failure of the Republican tax bill to improve the lives of hard-working Americans.1
That was Virginia Democrat Bobby Scott after the July jobs report. He’s not alone. Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer joined in on the ridiculous argument that a tax cut is bad for jobs and growth even though the numbers look better than they have in years:
This morning’s monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to reveal structural problems negatively affecting workers, small businesses, and long-term economic growth.2
Hoyer’s party will spend the fall season arguing that these alleged problems can only be solved by a massive, wealth-punishing tax increase. We already know this will cause a decline in jobs and growth that will leave working Americans struggling and begging for salvation, which is precisely the place where Democrats want them to be.
The lesson for Republicans? Tell the truth: your opponents are happier when the economy fails and people are desperate.
Lesson 2: extremism is the new moderation
While Chicago turned into a shooting gallery on the first weekend in August there were clashes in Portland and Berkeley between leftist agitators and the right that set the tone for post-Labor Day campaign rallies.
Intolerance and extremism are in. Conservative free speech is out. There is no such thing as moderation.
Whether it’s outrage over a poorly-considered Trump tweet or hair brained ramblings from one of the new breed of progressive socialist Democrats, being noticed and heard means raising the bar on stupidly outrageous, calculated rhetoric that stirs people up and makes them angry.
We aren’t getting our money’s worth when we pay a House-sized salary to someone who refers to the president of the United States as “Putin’s Apprentice.”3 Whether you love or hate Trump, that’s not the kind of message responsible public officials send out to anyone. This came from Maxine Waters, the same California congresswoman who raised the bar on extremism when she urged Americans to go after Republican officials in public. We shouldn’t be shocked by anything promoted by Waters and her ilk. Democrats are desperate to regain control and for some there is no limit to the price of power.
Lesson 3: the rule of law depends on your party
There are two important lessons for Democratic candidates to remember:
1. No police shooting is justified unless the officer is shot first.
2. Immigration enforcement violates the rule of law.
For Republican candidates there is only one:
The rule of law is whatever Democrats want it to be.
Low pay, death + Congress = bad career choice
I don’t know why anyone would sign up to be a law enforcement officer. When you risk being sued or even going to prison for protecting yourself from harm it’s not worth the risk for a job that might kill you but will never make you rich. If you want to be rich, go into politics. Then you can throw stones at those who put their lives on the line:
For too long, Congress has sat idly by while the scourge of what the public sees as racial profiling shootings goes unaddressed.4
If an officer shoots a non-Caucasian offender they better make sure they were shot first because they will be condemned for drawing a weapon by people who weren’t there and have something to gain by creating a racist incident. Consider the angry protests reported by the Chicago Tribune after a mid-July police-involved shooting that prompted the city to suddenly release body cam footage of what really happened. Then follow it up with the ultraviolent August 3, 2018 – August 5, 2018 weekend. This is the bleak future of inner-city law enforcement.
It didn’t get better over the summer for ICE officers, either. They are in the congressional cross hairs. Their jobs will factor into midterm races thanks to Democrats eager to end immigration enforcement by dismantling the agency and the rule of law to suit their political objectives.
What is the take home lesson? The rule of law is subservient to party politics. Right and wrong simply don’t matter.
Lesson 4: only the other party’s Supreme Court nominees legislate from the bench
The Democrat Party’s attack on the rule of law included blame for the president’s pick for the Supreme Court:
For the past 18 months President Trump has led a relentless assault on workers, minorities, women, immigrants, the environment and on the rule of law itself. The selection of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is an attempt to protect and expand the administration’s extreme policies.5
How many times have you heard angry words about legislating from the bench because a very partisan SCOTUS decision didn’t come off as hoped? That’s because legislating from the bench means a decision ran afoul of the party you belong to. Democrats want to save us from this judicial scourge:
We need jurists who will interpret and uphold the Constitution as written instead of legislating from the bench.6
Republicans want the same thing:
The job of a Supreme Court justice is to fairly and impartially apply the law and to protect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, not to advance public policy goals by legislating from the bench.7
If this was true, the power to place justices on the high court wouldn’t be one of the most important presidential responsibilities.
Let’s cut through the hypocrisy. The lesson to remember for candidates who want to talk about Kavanaugh this fall is to make sure their party prevails in the midterm elections. Then they can do whatever they want and the truth about legislating from the bench won’t matter.
UPDATE August 11, 2018: if you are a Republican, you are part of the swamp
It’s been a tough summer for Republican ethics. From this week’s allegations of financial misdeeds by New York’s Chris Collins to the Manafort trial to the July resignation of EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, Trump’s vow to clean things up was a strategic mistake that no one in Washington will ever be able to live up to.
Our nation’s capital is a swamp at best and a sewer more often than we’d like to think. The problem for Republicans is that they make too much of ethics, morality, and religion. Better to set those things aside and play the game of politics the way it’s mean to be played. Do what Democrats do. They’re much better at it and at least for now have the media and by all appearances the FBI in their back pocket.
1. “Scott Statement on July Jobs Report.” Bobby Scott. August 3, 2018. https://bobbyscott.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/scott-statement-on-july-jobs-report-1, retrieved August 6, 2018.
2. “Hoyer Statement on July Jobs Report.” Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. August 3, 2018. https://www.democraticwhip.gov/content/hoyer-statement-july-jobs-report-8, retrieved August 7, 2018.
3. “ICYMI – Congesswoman Waters on MSNBC: I Think Trump is Putin’s Apprentice.” Maxine Waters. July 23, 2018. https://waters.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/icymi-congresswoman-waters-msnbc-i-think-trump-putin-s-apprentice, retrieved August 8, 2018.
4. “Following Sacramento Shooting and Alton Sterling Decision, Norton Announces Bill to Create Local Task Forces on 21st Century Policing.” Eleanor Homes Norton. March 28, 2018. https://norton.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/following-sacramento-shooting-and-alton-sterling-decision-norton, retrieved August 8, 2018.
5. “Pallone Statement on Trump Supreme Court Nomination.” Frank Pallone, Jr. July 9, 2018. https://pallone.house.gov/media/press-releases/pallone-statement-trump-supreme-court-nomination, retrieved August 8, 2018.
6. “Rothfus’ Statement on Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.” Keith Rothfus. July 10, 2018. https://rothfus.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/rothfus-statement-supreme-court-nominee-judge-brett-kavanaugh, retrieved August 9, 2018.
7. “Portman Statement on the Nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to Serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.” Rob Portman July 9, 2018. https://www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2018/7/portman-statement-on-the-nomination-of-judge-brett-kavanaugh-to-serve-on-the-u-s-supreme-court, retrieved August 9, 2018.
Image: “Beachgoers at Jacob Riis Park, Brooklyn.” National Park Service. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/media/photo/view.htm?id=CEBF5E44-1DD8-B71B-0B399310A61B8C00 on August 9, 2018.