2016 Paradox: Party That Won White House Is Doomed to Failure

The paradox of the 2016 election was that the political party that won the White House was doomed to frustrate and disappoint the hyper-partisans most invested in their success, and faced quite probably catastrophic losses in 2018.

Republicans’ 2016 victory is shaping up to be a disaster for them in terms of policy advances. Except for a massive tax cut that explodes the deficit, nothing they care about seems to be achievable. Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) and the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act have not been repealed. Hard-right populists are promising to primary establishment Republicans.

If only Hillary Clinton had won and Democrats faced their own “massive gridlock,” frustrations, disappointments, and party splits, Republicans would be in much better shape, writes Neil Buchanan, a professor of law at George Washington University. While Democrats with Clinton at the helm might have achieved a few policy victories, such as a progressive Supreme Court justice, they could expect “huge impending electoral losses in 2018 and 2020.”

If Republicans had repudiated Trump in 2016, assuring loss of the presidency, they would now be in a period of renewal and rebuilding, maintaining conservative principles. They put off that inevitable process until after 2018 or 2020.

A lot of Democrats and journalists are still criticizing Hillary Clinton as a bad candidate, and blaming her for the defeat in 2016. See the book, “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign.” But politics is a team sport, and no Democrat would be a successful president without bringing with them a Democratic Congress, at the very least a Democratic Senate majority. Clinton’s (and Sanders’) agenda was as progressive if not more so than Obama’s, and yet a Republican Congress would have blocked them at every turn. Clinton’s (or Sanders’) presidency was doomed to create more frustration than accomplishment as long as hyper-partisan Republicans controlled the House of Representatives.

We now see Republicans are only unified in opposition and hatred of Hillary, Obama and “libruls,” and are struggling to pass any positive agenda. Republican attempts to govern will have to fail before a Democrat can win the White House again.

Republican divisions must play out and split the party before a Democrat can win the presidency and govern effectively again. Meanwhile, Democrats need to strengthen their representation in Congress.

Democrats in 2016 lost winnable Senate races in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, which would have given them a majority in the Senate. UK Guardian:

In Wisconsin, Senate candidate Russ Feingold failed to unseat Republican Ron Johnson, 52% to 45%, after rural regions came out to vote strongly for Trump and other Republicans…

Former Indiana senator Evan Bayh failed to make a comeback against the Republican incumbent, Todd Young, after a race defined by Bayh’s lobbying work in Washington while he was out of office…

In Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey survived a strong challenge from Democrat Kate McGinty in what became the most expensive Senate race in American history…He won the race shortly after 1am local time, with a tentative victory of 49% to 47%.

Democrats have a strong chance of winning back the House in 2018 and a slim chance of winning a narrow majority in the Senate. They have a much better chance of winning the Senate in 2020. In 2018, Republicans will be defending just eight Senate seats, and Democrats will be defending 23 seats, plus two more independents who caucus with Dems. Odds are against the Democrats winning all their Senate seats plus three or four Republican seats to take control of the Senate after the 2018 election.


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