In five days, America will go to the polls and vote for either Donald Trump or Joe Biden to be our President. In five days, years of political insanity reach its climax. In five days, we will watch with higher than normal anxiety as the results come in and we find out who will be sworn in come January.
For the better part of four years, I have come to believe that we as a nation have become focused on Washington D.C. and the politics there as opposed to the politics and, more importantly, the needs of our own communities. Yes, on some level, federal politics do affect us. But on a much closer and much more real level, the needs of our families, friends, and neighbors are so much more important and often far more affected by local politics than national.
I very much agree with Erick Erickson when he says that we have been thinking of these national elections as far more important than they really are.
I was told if Barack Obama got elected in 2008, it’d be the end of America. I was told the same thing in 2012. The nation is still here. We’re supposed to believe that this time, really and truly this very time, if your guy doesn’t win the country is over — and I say it that way because Democrats and Republicans are both saying that.
George W. Bush’s election and re-election did not destroy the country. Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats in 2006 didn’t either. Neither did Obama’s election or re-election or the rise of the tea party or the House Freedom Caucus or the election of Donald Trump.
The country is still here and if we are really honest about it things have changed not a ton from one administration to the next.
Yes, the ball has been moved back and forth over and over with no “team” really scoring a touchdown, but there have been a lot of third and fourth down conversions that can’t be ignored. The Democrats got Obamacare, and that was a major policy shift in America. However, if we’re continuing with the football analogy, it’s pretty clear Harry Reid fumbled the ball when he nuked the filibuster, setting the precedent for Republicans to score major victories in nominating and confirming federal judges.
Likewise, the chance to shift the Supreme Court to an at-best 6-3 conservative majority (with Roberts as Chief Justice, you’re likely looking more at a 5-4 conservative majority unless he feels he no longer has to be the swing vote) is a major win for Republicans, and moves the ball deep into Democrats’ territory (sorry, I have been so excited for football to be back). The fundamental shift in the courts is something that, like Obamacare, will have major implications going forward.
But while the courts will interpret constitutional issues in a more conservative way, and while Obamacare has changed your private insurance, there is still much more that can be done to affect change locally.
That is where I think conservatives need to take the battles next. If we are indeed about to transition into a post-Trump era, conservatives (and conservatism in general) need to begin locally and rebuild. We will need a bench, and one that isn’t overly tied to Trumpism and isn’t tied to the old guard that led to Trumpism in the first place.
However, if Trump wins, then conservatives need to shore up the obvious weaknesses we’re seeing in the polling rather than assume we have a permanent majority (it is tempting to think the Democrats can’t win if they manage to lose to Trump twice). In 2008, the Democrats assumed they would have a permanent majority. They figured they had all the time in the world to make the policy changes they wanted to in order to shift America to the left. Instead, they overreached and in 2010 lost control of the Senate. Then, they lost control of the House. Finally, they lost the White House to, again, Donald Trump of all people.
There is no such thing as a permanent majority, but there are ways to prolong it. If Republicans lose their majority here, it is time to restructure and start by winning local elections everywhere they can. If Republicans keep the Senate AND the White House, then its time to shore up the local communities and work toward regaining the House of Representatives as soon as possible.
But, there is a problem, and it has to be addressed sooner rather than later: Is the presence and effect of Trump on the party and on conservatism worth the risk? If the public blowback to Trumpism too much heat for conservatism? I am not sure of the answer. I have several friends who will quickly answer “No” and several others who say “But look at how much we’re winning!” (sometimes even in the face of losing), but I simply cannot tell you if Trump was and is worth it.