The paradoxical midterms
The jobs report came out this morning. The US economy, continuing the surge from under President Barack Obama, added 250,000 jobs in October. This is on top of a wage growth report, where wages grew 3.1% in October. (I’m one of those people for whom wages grew.)
These two data points—a booming economy and real wage growth—should mean one thing: That Republicans will hold on to their majorities in Congress. It’s the oft-told mantra: It’s the economy, stupid.
Of course, this is a fallacy. The Clinton boom was starting to purr in 1994 when voters handed the Republicans the House for the first time in 50 years. And the same thing seems to be happening now.
Donald Trump, putative president, should be sitting pretty. Sure, he’s done nothing but try to muck up the economy with his horrendous policies, but the economy’s underlying strength has, for now, resisted all attempts at scuppering it. A normal president would have gotten some credit for this.
But Trump is no normal president. If polling is correct, Republicans are heading for a bloodbath in the House, and might even narrowly lose the Senate. A party in power during the 9th year of a seemingly endless expansion shouldn’t be in such dire straits.
But it seems that a majority of Americans value some things more than money. They value, well, their values: freedom, decency, empathy. Trump and his party are a collection of the most indecent, downright evil people to ever occupy the levers of American power. Unemployment is at a 50 year low, and it doesn’t matter to vast swathes of the electorate. Wages may be up, but the electorate sees that Trump’s economic policies are geared to the rich to such a ridiculous, blatant extent that eventually everything will come crashing down.
This is an electorate which cannot stomach Trump’s xenophobia, his racism, his misogyny, his cruelty. They may have chickens in their pots, but their souls are battered by Trump’s sheer evil.
If Jeb Bush had become president and had this economy, it’s doubtful there’d be a blue wave. But, for all his faults, a Bush III presidency wouldn’t be an existential crisis for the Republic. Trump’s regime is. Trump is modern conservatism come to dark fruition: illiberal, autocratic, not caring about the norms of democracy. And the electorate sees this. For all that we gripe about voters, they seem to get it this time around. And they’re coming out to make sure we can right the ship.
An economic environment which should favor the party in power is almost incidental. Hitler put Germans to work, but no one wants to live through that again. And, to repeat, the economy is humming along in spite of GOP policies, not because of them. Eventually, the bill for the billionaires’ tax cuts will have to be paid. It won’t be pretty.
We have four days left to work to retake our country. Let’s get it done.
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