Dreading the Blue Wave

Five years ago, I felt a red wave rising, and I got back into politics.  I'd been sitting on the sideline for twelve years, but this wave was going to be so big that previously impossible political goals were going to be within reach.  That red wave culminated with the improbable nomination and election of Donald Trump.

But the signs of a new political wave are as clear as they were five years ago, it's just blue, not red.  It's the yin and yang, to and fro, of American politics.  The Republicans are due for a walloping.  They're going to lose the House. 

And it's starting to look like they'll lose the Senate.

First term Presidents almost always lose seats in Congress in the midterms  after they're elected.  In some years, they lose a lot, as Clinton did in 1994.  Things  look just as bad for Trump this year.  Or worse.

The reason is easy to understand.  The depth of Trump, and Republican, support is not accurately measured by Trump's margins of victory, state by state, district by district.  Those numbers are skewed by the fact that he was running against the worst Democratic candidate of modern times.  That's the only way he could get elected.  The numbers from 2016 are misleading at best.  The evidence is not just the polls.  More reliably, it's the election outcomes in special elections.

That means the most important political decision of the year will be made by Justice Anthony Kennedy. 

Signals are mixed.  He's hired clerks for next year, but that just keeps his options open.  He may have yet to decide.

This decision will have a critical impact on the future of the Court.  If he resigns in June, he could be replaced by another Gorsuch, and the Court would tilt slightly to the right.  If he waits any longer, his seat will likely remain vacant, pending the outcome of the 2020 election.  

The Republicans set the precedent.  They denied Obama the chance to fill Scalia's seat, leaving it open for Trump, and Gorsuch.  If the Democrats take the Senate, they'll surely return the favor.

This would leave the Court where it was after Scalia died, tied, four to four, and incapable of making the tough decisions.  Judicial paralysis.  Not good for the country, not good for the Court.  And a terrible legacy for Anthony Kennedy.

Justice Kennedy is a patriot, a Republican, and the last Supreme Court Justice appointed by Reagan.  He's also a very bright man.  He understands the argument I'm making better than I do.

So Trump will get to make on more appointment to the Court this term.

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