By Chris Baecker and David Peek
Two years have passed since what can safely be characterized as a very unusual, highly-charged presidential election, which produced a result that shocked many; the election of Donald Trump. That means it’s time for midterm elections, where all 435 representatives in the House, and 35 senators (2 via special election) face the voters.
Midterms have traditionally been a dicey proposition for the president’s party. Levelheaded voters, including his supporters, should be able to reasonably surmise that if any president could so inflame the opposition to maintain that trend, it would be President Trump.
As if his blunt, abrasive personality wasn’t enough, the fact that he lost the popular vote by almost three million on the way to victory in the Electoral College triggers the intensity of his detractors to the level of a bonfire. The recent confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh turned that bonfire into an inferno.
One thing most regular folks see on fire right now however, is the economy.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently reported that GDP grew by 3.5% in the 3rd quarter. That follows 4.2% growth in the 2nd quarter. Wages are rising. Unemployment is at historic lows, down across most demographic groups. It’s true that unemployment has been steadily trending downward since the recession of a decade ago, but so was participation in the labor force. Until a couple years ago. Unemployment has continued dropping even as more people have (re)entered the labor force.
While democrats and former President Obama have been quick to throw dirt on the leftist commentariat’s predictions of economic doom under President Trump in order to grab some credit, a look at the facts tell a different story. There is a clear break between the first several years of the last decade, and the last couple. We’ve gone from a rollercoaster GDP ride to one of an ascending flight of stairs.
When we covered fiscal policy a few weeks ago, I told my class that government actions do have an effect on the economy, though it’s more analogous to a jumbo jet changing course rather than us taking a left turn in our cars. Because of President Trump’s stout deregulatory posture and his signature on tax simplification/reduction, a bumpy taxi down the runway appears to be giving way to a long-awaited takeoff for the economy.
The only foreseeable bumps in the road are the current trade disputes and the impasse on immigration policy, the resolution of the latter of which could help fill the excess of job openings over job seekers. Fortunately there are enough pro-free trade and pro-immigration republicans to keep either situation from devolving much.
With that in mind, we can’t help but wonder why voters would hand over the House speaker’s gavel to Nancy Pelosi, who characterized as “crumbs” the employee raises and bonuses handed out by companies after the passage of the tax reduction? Why would we put in charge her and the party she leads when they appear perpetually challenged by the simple logic that those individuals and entities that pay more in income taxes tend to gain more of the “benefit” when taxes are lowered?
This is the same party that, every time a tragic mass shooting occurs, comes out guns blazing wanting to shoot more holes in the 2nd amendment. Yet their own gun control proves poor in that regard when it’s revealed that many of these shootings either happen in gun-free zones, or the killer broke gun control laws already on the books, or both. Common sense yields to uncontrollable emotions, raging passions that can seemingly only be pacified by the former President Obama’s smooth smile or a wink of Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s batting eyes.
They are quick to get stoked again though, when a republican president gets to appoint a Supreme Court justice.
A quick look at the last 100 years shows that, by and large, presidents have been given deference regarding such nominations. In recent times however, even non-controversial republican appointees garnered only a handful of democrat votes. The rest are afraid of losing the ability to get the constitution to say what they want it to say, instead of, gasp, living by its original meaning.
When controversy does arise, a total meltdown ensues, and the legitimacy of nearly every institution is called into question. We saw less whining when our respective nine children were in diapers.
Furthermore, their lack of shame appears indirectly proportional to their intellectual honesty when confronted with a GOP merely following the precedent laid down by their own leaders regarding appointments in a presidential election year.
One might then ask “don’t we need two prominent political parties to keep each other in check?” Don’t we need “these guys to watch those guys,” in the words of the late Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter? As long as the system is rigged against third parties, that’s a legitimate concern. Democrats however, regularly demonstrate that, at best they are too unserious, and at worst too dangerous, to be that other party.
We need a second party where Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky would feel at home. He was the only to voice genuine constitutional concerns about Justice Kavanaugh, regarding the 4th amendment, that weren’t just worn-out political talking points.
We need a second party that would welcome Congressman Thomas Massie, also from Kentucky. No doubt informed by his belief in the 10th amendment, last year he introduced legislation to abolish the federal Department of Education. One has to believe this would be helpful in restoring some market discipline into the student loan sector that has Americans on the hook for $1.5 trillion.
We need a second party that has no illusions regarding the source of our fiscal/budget problems; excessive spending. Spending is an emotional narcotic employed by democrats to scare people into thinking we need the government to provide for us. They think it’s the candy and we’re the baby. We need a second party that is immune to this rubbish.
We need a party that appreciates when someone like Congressman Justin Amash from Michigan pushes for a humbler, less adventurous foreign policy conducted on a tighter budget.
In a recent column in the New York Times, Bret Stephens, who hopes “republicans get pummeled in the midterms,” lamented how the democrats are “flubbing it”: from the myriad ways they lost their marbles during the Kavanaugh hearings, to the (encouragement of) public heckling of republican officials, to countering them from beneath the gutter. He pines for a “party of moderation, not extremism.”
The democratic party is not that party.
Christopher E. Baecker manages fixed assets for Pioneer Energy Services in San Antonio, and is an adjunct lecturer of economics at Northwest Vista College. He is a 2006 graduate of UT-San Antonio, a 1996 graduate of UT-Dallas and a 1990 graduate of Victoria High School. He can be reached at facebook.com/professormetal/ or firstname.lastname@example.org.
David E. Peek currently serves as the Rockwall County Treasurer. He was a 2008 Delegate to the Republican National Convention, a Distinguished Military Graduate of the United States Military at West Point, and a 1987 graduate of Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz.