Republicans should not be disheartened by Roy Moore's loss in Alabama, because the election had little to do with Doug Jones — and probably even less with Donald Trump or the Republican agenda.
Don't get me wrong. It's quite troubling that the GOP's thin Senate majority just became anorexic, but this election by itself is not a predictor of a Democratic rout in 2018. Republicans could sustain substantial losses, to be sure, but the Alabama election doesn't make that foreseeable.
Roy Moore was a uniquely problematic candidate with more baggage than many Republicans believed they could excuse. Though it is remarkable that a Republican candidate lost in crimson-red Alabama, it is also noteworthy that even with his problems, he came close to winning.
The vast majority of Alabama Republicans did not want to sit home or to vote for Jones, because they understand the magnitude of the stakes before us. Yet enough of them did. Apparently, the fact that he would have doubtlessly voted as a conservative at a time when every single Republican vote is critical wasn't enough to overcome the sexual allegations and other concerns about Moore for these voters.
Also, America's political situation is particularly fluid, and there are too many variables and important events yet to play out for us to reliably forecast the 2018 election results. One savvy politician told me this week that he could see Republicans losing the majority in both houses in 2018 — but he also wouldn't be surprised if they were to actually gain seats if the economy remains strong and Trump's agenda continues apace.
Democrats have more Senate seats to defend in 2018 (26) than Republicans (eight), 10 of which are in states Trump carried in 2016 — five by double digits. Even CNN concedes that the electoral map "still clearly favors Republicans." But like other liberals, they are counting on Trump's supposed unpopularity and soaring passion in the Democratic base to offset any GOP advantages.
Moreover, prudent analysis has to factor in the adage that people vote with their pocketbooks — even young people, the demographic reputed to be least enamored with President Trump. A Bank of America/USA Today Better Money Habits survey conducted before the 2016 election showed that 65 percent of voters ages 18 to 26 would base their votes more on economic policies than on social issues.
Economic indicators are decidedly positive now, and notwithstanding Barack Obama's delusional post-presidential assertion that he deserves the credit for it, it's hard to dispute that Trump deserves the lion's share of credit.
The economy is humming well above 3 percent — a threshold the Obama malaise architects had already written off as no longer attainable. Unemployment is way down, and the stock market is surging significantly above impressive Obama-era levels.
This is real growth, as opposed to the fake growth Obama defeatists were touting when the economy was stagnating at 1 percent. And it can be traced to Trump's actions and the attitude he carried into office, just as Obama's stagnation can be traced to his business-hostile bearing.
Trump is bullish on America, the free market and American business. Entrepreneurs have responded accordingly, as have consumers. (Look at Christmas season sales already this year.) Trump has also been aggressive in rolling back stifling bureaucratic regulations across the board, and no one should underestimate the impact of his decision to back out of the Paris climate accord — or his support of the coal and natural gas industries.
Trump also tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to substantially revise, if not wholly repeal, Obamacare, and he is determined to try again. He and congressional Republicans have done a better job so far with the tax reform bill. Though it is imperfect and not the bill I would craft if I were king, it would meaningfully improve the existing law and is very close to being passed.
If it passes, I believe we'll see even more growth and far more revenues than the experts — the same ones who predicted that our days of 3 percent growth were over — are forecasting.
Yes, things could so south, especially if Trump and Congress are unable to move the tax bill and other major items of legislation before the 2018 elections, but I'm feeling upbeat.
My main concern is chaos within the Republican Party. The angst toward Trump among many Republicans is palpable, and unfortunately, a disproportionate number of these opponents are influential in the media.
I understand the naysayers' disapproval of Trump's style and various other complaints. But I don't understand why they won't acknowledge the positive developments that are occurring during his presidency — even if they have too much pride to give him credit for them. I get (and sometimes share) their distaste for his tweets, but it's baffling that they won't concede that on policy, at least, he has been far different from — and almost entirely better than — what they gloomily warned he would be.
He's not governing like a so-called populist nationalist, and he certainly hasn't advocated liberal policies as many feared. No matter what you think of Trump personally, he is advancing a largely conservative agenda.
Unlike some of Trump's perpetual critics, I don't worry that Trump is going to usher in an era of alt-right dystopia or that the country is going to descend into Bannonism — whatever that means. The critics shouldn't fear that Trump will forever taint the conservative movement or that America will descend into darkness.
America was descending into darkness under Obama's eight years, and that process would have accelerated into warp speed had Hillary Clinton been elected. So could we please lighten up and support the president when he's advancing salutary policies, which is often, and go into 2018 with a spirit of warranted optimism?