You’ve probably heard of several prominent republicans who feel unable to support Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency and have stated so publicly. At least one claims that Hilary Clinton is the most conservative candidate left in the race. At the same time, there are vocal calls for a viable third party candidate, plus calls for party unity to get behind the Trump candidacy. These are interesting times indeed.
All this chaos on the republican/conservative side makes the democrats happy, but there are good reasons why foreword thinking republicans may want Hilary Clinton to win the election in November. The tricky part is to figure out how to let the presidency go to the democrats, but retain control of both houses of Congress. If that can be accomplished, the republicans can look forward to large gains in 2018 and 2020. Donald Trump may actually help them achieve this goal.
To quote Ricky Ricardo from the I Love Lucy show, “Let me ‘splain.”
Donald Trump is not your traditional republican candidate. Consequently, there may not be much of a “coattails effect” for the republicans running for state and national legislative seats. Because of his political outsider persona, Mr. Trump’s fervent supporters won’t necessarily feel that they also should vote for the other republicans on the ballot in November.
But this also means that it’s possible for republican candidates to win elections even if Trump loses the presidency. Unlike the higher turnout by Obama supporters which resulted in net democratic gains in 2008 and 2012, Hilary Clinton could win this presidential election because of a lower than usual turnout of conservative republican voters for Trump. Those voters may still vote for the other republican candidates on the ballot if they’re dedicated to republican values, but can’t stomach Trump as president.
If that happens, what do we have for the next two years?
A democratic president for an unprecedented third consecutive term for the first time since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, and a republican House and Senate. While conservatives won’t be thrilled that the vacant Supreme Court seat will be filled by a democratic appointee, it’s probably a minor setback in the long range game plan. If Clinton wins the election, the Senate will probably go ahead and confirm President Obama’s appointee, Merrick Garland. He is not overtly liberal and he’s older than the typical appointee so his tenure may not be as long as the likely appointees from a President Clinton.
The midterm elections in 2018 are the real prize for the republicans. Thirty-four senate democrats come up for reelection and many are vulnerable. For a very long time, midterm elections have favored the party which doesn’t hold the presidency. If Hilary Clinton is president, it is not unreasonable to believe that the republicans could win a supermajority in the senate in 2018 and increase their seats in the House of Representatives.
It’s probably safe to assume that the republican Congress would continue its policy of obstruction during a Clinton administration and in 2020, Hilary Clinton may have few accomplishments to point to during her reelection campaign. While Congress has a very low approval rating, most Americans feel their particular representative and senator are doing a fine job and should be reelected. Consequently, Congress risks little with an obstructionist strategy and the potential gain is huge.
If things work out for them, the republicans will hold the presidency, a polarized but largely conservative House of Representatives and a supermajority in the Senate on Inauguration Day 2021. This would ensure widespread adoption of conservative policies and a potential stacking of the Supreme Court with conservatives for a generation who would overturn Roe v. Wade and other decisions unpopular with those on the far right.
To those of us in the dwindling political center, this is a scary prospect, but I understand why many republicans may want Clinton to win in November.
Food for thought, I suppose, but other than writing about it, I’m not sure there’s anything I can do. It makes me feel like a deer frozen in the headlights of an oncoming car. I like the country in which I was born and I’m afraid it will be a very different place next decade. God bless America – we may need that blessing in the coming years.