The mid-terms will determine whether Donald Trump's two-year assault on democratic norms will be repudiated or validated. No pressure.
You hear it almost every time: This is the most important election of our lives. And there’s usually an element of truth. Ronald Reagan defeating Jimmy Carter led to an orgy of tax cuts for the wealthy and a blitz of deregulation that altered the US government and American society. The 1994 election brought Newt Gingrich to power as House speaker and a so-called Republican Revolution that ensured a national health insurance program sought by Bill Clinton would stay dead. George W. Bush’s Supreme Court-imposed victory over Al Gore placed in office a man who would launch the disastrous Iraq War that claimed the lives of more than 4,400 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.
Elections are always crucial. But this year, it really, really is the most important contest in decades. Or at least since 2016.
The most recent election ushered in not only a president who has pushed an extreme policy agenda—handing out huge tax breaks to the well-to-do, reversing climate change action, engaging in trade wars, assaulting the social safety net, nominating die-hard conservative judges, and undermining health care protections—but one who adopted an erratic and destabilizing approach to, well, everything. It created a political crisis, because Donald Trump has waged a war on norms of governance, the rule of law, productive discourse, and the media, as he has set a record for uttering false statements, overseen a regime riddled with corruption, given comfort to racists, misogynists, and wacko conspiracy theorists, and displayed a disturbing affinity for autocracy.
As Trump daily launches crass and bullying tweets that disseminate disinformation, and as he seeks to forcibly reframe the political culture of the nation, the 2018 midterm elections boil down to one overarching question: Will he and his GOP lackeys—who have enabled his assault on decency, his fact-free and haphazard method of policymaking, and his narcissism-driven leadership—be rewarded for their actions? And to be more specific: Will the candidate who captured the White House in part because he aided and abetted the Russian attack on the 2016 election (by falsely claiming this assault was not real) continue to get away with this act of betrayal?
By now, anyone who has bothered to consider the coming midterm elections for a nanosecond realizes this campaign will determine whether congressional Democrats can win control of either the House (more likely) or the Senate (less likely) and obtain the power to thwart Trump’s policy moves. With one chamber in their hands, they can block his efforts to hurl more tax breaks at the rich and prevent additional steps to destroy what’s left of Obamacare. They can try to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. That’s a big deal. But there’s a deeper and more profound matter at stake: accountability.
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