The Grand Ol Party of great men like Lincoln and Reagan isn’t looking so grand these days. Despite securing control of Congress, an incredibly unorthodox candidate becoming president despite all odds, and a public image that is remaining stable, the Republicans can’t seem to get much done. They’ve failed on repealing Obamacare (then they failed again). They’ve yet to put forth an infrastructure plan, can’t agree on immigration, and refuse to individually compromise on major legislation. Now, they move onto tax reform.
All this dysfunction and disapproval may look like bad news for the Republicans. And it is, on the surface. When we dig deeper, we see that while the GOP is struggling, the Democrats are looking even worse. And going into next years elections, this bad vs ugly battle makes things interesting.
After Trump’s incredibly unlikely victory last November, it seemed the conservatives of America had it all. A Republican Congress, a Republican president, and Republicans in control of the majority of governorship’s. The strongest the party’s been in nearly a century. Democrats on the other hand, were in total disarray. Failure to secure the White House for a third term. Failure to regain the Senate. And most importantly, the failure to retain the vote of white working class Americans in the rust belt. They sought to quickly regroup.
But this regrouping has been lackluster at best. The Democrats have lost two federal special elections in Montana and Georgia, the latter being the most expensive race in House history. They’ve yet to conduct an ‘autopsy’ of the party, similar to what the Republicans did after their bitter loss in 2012. And to compound the party’s problems, a civil war seems to be looming. The only thing they Democrats have done since November, besides stand firmly against the Trump administration’s agenda, is the release of their “Better Deal” plan which they hope will lure the disenfranchised working class back to the left. Even this strategy however, is coming up short.
The problem? Democrats can’t seem to agree on what the best approach is. Rank-and-file pragmatists, the kind the helped Hillary Clinton secure the party’s nomination, are finding it difficult to concur with far-left progressives, the kind that voted en masse for Bernie Sanders. That means the Democrats are making what should be a slam-dunk election in 2018 (only a handful of times has the incumbent party gained in both chambers at the midterms) an uphill battle.
Take Kevin de León, state senator from California, who just this weekend announced his intention to unseat longtime Senator Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein, the oldest member of the Senate, is by all intents and purposes a moderate Democrat while de León is much father to the left. Now, instead of concentrating resources against the GOP candidate, de León will divert attention and efforts of Feinstein’s established donor base. Luckily for Democrats, California isn’t a state likely to turn red anytime soon. But infights like this will continue to occur are we get closer to election day.
Of course, Trump allies are seeking to create the same kind of trouble for the GOP. Steve Bannon, who resigned his position as White House Chief Strategist in August, declared a “season of war” is coming. Ultimately, Bannon is seeking to remove incumbent Republicans who he deems to be establishment. He’s already claimed a victory too. In last month’s Alabama race, incumbent Luther Strange, successor to now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, lost to alt-right candidate Roy Moore in a Primary runoff election. The Bannon-aligned Great America PAC, that backed Trump during the presidential election last year, spent large sums for Moore during the primaries. Thus far however, the PAC has yet to spend any money for Moore in the general election. In the most recent poll, Moore’s Democratic opponent Doug Jones was less than eight points behind, with nine percent undecided.
This race alone demonstrates the trouble the GOP could find itself in. Before Moore’s win, Trump had strongly supported Strange for reelection, as had Vice President Mike Pence, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump has since endorsed Moore, and dismissed his disconnect with the candidate. Newt Gingrich, longtime Trump ally, recently criticized Bannon’s ‘war’ as “stunningly stupid” and stated Bannon should instead focus on eliminating Democrats in in the midterms in order to create a supermajority in the Senate.
Either way, both parties seem to be unable to figure out what exactly they stand for, besides opposing the other.