MAGA is in trouble. If the midterm elections were held today, the GOP would lose control of Congress. They have until November 6, 2018 to get it together and back Trump's campaign agenda; immigration in particular. We voted for Trumpism in 2016, not business-first GOP talking points.
It's clear that Congress wants to block any "America First" policies and is willing to lose seats to make that happen. Trump flip-flopping on campaign promises (like immigration) has angered and depressed a large segment of his base.
To stave the wave, Trump must stick to his campaign agenda and leverage anything he can to paint Congress into a corner during an election year.
- Pass E-Verify by executive order (easy)
- Use the military to build the wall (medium)
- Not start any wars (easy)
- End the Russia investigation (easy)
- Take action on school shootings (medium)
- Lower student debt (medium)
He should also:
- Lower health care costs (hard)
- Reinstate net neutrality (medium)
- Keep the elephant trophy ban (easy)
- Focus his tweets on the issues (easy)
Trump and the GOP must go after low-hanging fruit that will yield immediate results. Given the November time constraint, my solutions are not ideal, but they are realistic and could be just enough to keep the GOP in power.
These midterms are just as much about Trump as the GOP. Not only must the GOP maintain a majority in the House to stop impeachment, they must gain a near impossible nine seats in the Senate to get bills passed.
Meanwhile, half the country is still reeling from Trump's win, turning out in droves, and flipping red seats all over the country in special elections.
Despite polls tightening, job figures improving, and Trump's popularity rising, Democrats still have the edge going into November. For the GOP this midterm isn't as much about motivating their side to show as it is about getting the other side not to. Here's why and how Trump can beat it:
Democrats Are Highly Motivated
Democratic election turnouts are skyrocketing and much of it has nothing to do with the issues; it's the simple fact that the Left hates Trump way more than the Right ever hated Obama. A recent poll confirms that even though most people dislike both parties, they want a Congress that will fight Trump.
The "America First" platform is what motivated Trump's base. They love America more than they love him and the sooner he realizes this, the better.
Trump's constant flip-flopping and overeagerness to grant amnesty has exhausted many of his supporters, breaking their trust in the process.
Anti-Trump Rallies Have the Biggest Crowds
Right after Trump took office, huge anti-Trump rallies formed all over the country for months on end, some with hundreds of thousands of attendees.
Sure, there were conservative rallies too. It seemed like a new pro-Trump rally was popping up every weekend on Twitter, but these were often poorly attended and organized by Johnny-come-latelys looking to cash in on the Trump phenomenon. Democrats, on the other hand, are highly organized and mobilized.
Democrats Keep Winning Special Elections
On average, a president with lower than 50% approval will lose 36 seats in the House, and the Democrats only need to pick up 24 to regain control. This puts the GOP at a huge disadvantage.
Since last fall, Democrats have been flipping red seats in districts won easily by Trump. The official count is now around 40. Many seats not flipped have had the gaps closed to within striking distance.
Even Attorney General Jeff Sessions' outgoing Alabama Senate seat, which he won with 97%, was flipped by Democrat Doug Jones last December in an unthinkable loss.
Don't Trust the Polls
Take poll numbers with a grain of salt and martini. Trump's polling average is still in the low 40s, not 50%. Trump supporters didn't believe the polls in 2016 and they shouldn't believe them when polls are in their favor. Special election turnouts are a much better indicator of what's to come and the Democrats are cleaning house.
Nothing Will Be Done About Voter Fraud
There was voter fraud in 2016 but it doesn't matter because the votes were tallied and there won't be any added oversight from now until November. We can expect that illegal voting will only get worse. In Pennsylvania alone, a state Trump narrowly won by 44k votes, a lawsuit has surfaced accusing the state of having 100k non-citizens registered to vote.
Social Media Is Banning Conservatives
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are cracking down on conservatives, doing everything from issuing strikes to shadowbanning to locking them out of their accounts. Even President Trump himself now has significantly lower engagement on Facebook.
Name recognition will play an even bigger role in November. Unfortunately, without social media, big name recognition will likely be the result of big donors and the mainstream media instead of grassroots efforts.
Immigration Trumps Everything Else
Trump has done little to make good on his immigration campaign promises. So far, the only meaningful promise fulfilled has been allowing fewer refugees, but asylum rates are on the rise.
Lower legal immigration rates, deporting illegal aliens, and removing the incentives to come here illegally will alleviate most of our biggest problems very quickly, especially in regards to jobs, wages, and affordable housing.
Just by talking about a DACA amnesty (no it's not chess), Trump has created a new border surge. In fact, illegal immigration is now back to Obama levels.
Demographics Are Destiny
Demographics are changing at an alarming rate due to immigration. Lawful immigration rates are 1-2 million per year, which is off the charts.
If Trump doesn't follow through on immigration, no other issue will matter because we simply won't have the votes. Democrats know this. Remember, Trump only won the election by about 80k votes.
Mandate E-Verify To Raise Wages
Trump must mandate E-Verify by executive order and fine employers that hire illegal aliens.
E-Verify will ensure someone can legally work in the U.S. before being hired. It is one of the least controversial programs out there with strong support across the aisle. It also won't cost anything since it's already available.
Without policies in place to stop people from wanting to sneak in, a wall is meaningless. Removing the jobs magnet will significantly reduce illegal immigration.
True, a permanent E-Verify solution would require Congress to pass legislation, but so what? Only the swampiest politicians would even think about trying to reverse it, meanwhile, Trump would restore faith to those voters disenchanted by his administration.
As illegal immigration and competition for jobs goes down, wages will continue to go up, giving the GOP momentum across the board.
Use the Military to Build the Wall
Building a wall is within Trump's power without Congress.
Removing the incentives to come here illegally is a better solution than a wall, but the wall was Trump's biggest campaign promise and delivering on it will supercharge his base for November.
The President certainly has the constitutional authority to protect the country from invasion. Trump can find the funds for a wall out of the massive omnibus bill.
Additionally, the Real ID Act of 2005 gives DHS the ability to "waive all legal requirements" to building a physical barrier.
This will run into court challenges, but who cares? Trump should at least try to divert military funds to the Army Corps of Engineers to build the border wall because it will translate into votes in November.
No More Wars: The Syrian Airstrikes Split His Base
Trump campaigned on peace but split his base, at least temporarily, by bombing Syria.
Are we really supposed to believe that Assad gassed children when he was winning the war with a U.S. withdrawal imminent? We don't know for sure what happened but this seems to have swamp written all over it.
The Syrian airstrikes came only days after warmonger and Iraq War architect, John Bolton, joined the Trump administration. It was a complete reversal of Trump's recently declared victory over ISIS and planned withdrawal from Syria.
Trump was correct during the campaign: Syria is not in our national interest. Get people like John Bolton out of the White House.
End Mueller's Russia Investigation
After the Uranium One deal exposed a conflict of interest with the investigation, and certainly after Trump's personal attorney's office was raided by the FBI over the Stormy Daniels debacle, Attorney General Jeff Sessions should have intervened.
The probe has turned into a witch hunt, and nobody really believes the story to begin with. There is no evidence Trump colluded with Russia and his hands are tied because of it. Trump needs to fire everyone at the top of the Justice Department and bring in loyalists.
The Gun Debate Will Never End
In the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting and several subsequent shootings, this is another issue that must be addressed by November.
The gun debate will continue indefinitely and there won't be a compromise any time soon, if ever, but it is possible to find a solution without conceding to either side.
Don't Anger the Second Amendment Crowd
Trump will need to keep the support of the Second Amendment crowd because without it, the GOP is toast. Trump has managed to anger them by saying he wants to take our guns away without due process:
Trump also said he wanted to ban bump stocks through the DOJ, which didn't go over too well, either.
The GOP shouldn't concede anything on gun rights because, as we saw in the March For Life, it will never be enough:
When you give us an inch, that bump stocks ban, we will take a mileMarjory Stoneman Douglas senior Delaney Tarr
There is a silver lining: the March For Life may be what makes many conservatives come out to vote for the GOP these midterms as the lesser of two evils.
Don't Arm Teachers
If we've gotten to the point where teachers need to be armed, we've already lost. Teachers need to focus on teaching, not fending off school shooters. Not to mention, there is too great a risk of something going wrong; an accidental discharge or a student grabbing it. YouTube is filled with videos of students physically fighting their teachers.
Make Schools Safe Again With Security Guards
Regardless of what's making kids bring guns to school, Trump needs a solution that will yield immediate, visible results that must focus on school safety.
When it comes to gun control, there is a wide gender gap with women favoring stricter gun laws much more than men.
In 2016, I attended several Trump rallies and women often told me they liked Trump because he made them feel safe. Keeping kids safe could do a lot to win over women. The power of moms feeling safe leaving their kids at school cannot be overstated.
As a stopgap measure to keep schools safe right now, we need to keep everyone out that shouldn't be there. We can do it the same way we do it at airports: with physical barriers and security guards.
Trump has done a great job confronting the issue head on by doing listening sessions which can only help the GOP's chances in November.
Don't Repeal Obamacare This Year: GOP Will Only Make It Worse
After last year's betrayal, I don't trust the GOP to come up with anything good if they try again this year. Plus, it'll eat the clock on more pressing issues like immigration.
The Kaiser tracking poll finds that Obamacare now has 50% support nationwide and this is the first year it's broken the half way mark since 2010. People seem to like their health insurance just enough to be scared to lose it. The silver lining: at least the GOP didn't replace it with something worse.
The GOP's sorta-kinda repeal of the Obamacare mandate may be a winner with some, but it doesn't kick in until next year and will probably cause premiums to rise for others. Democrats could capitalize on that fear.
It's better to rebrand the health care problem as "Insurance Reform" and effectively replace our health insurance system with something simpler that allows more competition, but not until after the election.
Lower Prescription Drug Prices By Changing Patent Rules
Congress is largely owned by the pharmaceutical companies and they'll never agree to something like Medicare re-negotiating drug prices. But remember, we need something by November.
Here's an idea: give pharmaceutical companies a larger guaranteed return on their investments by changing patent rules, in exchange for making it easier for generics to enter the market. Generics are way cheaper.
Patents currently last for 20 years after a drug is invented, not when it hits the market. The average length of time to get a drug to market is about 10 years plus costing $1 billion, leaving a limited window to generate revenue.
If patent rules were changed for pharmaceuticals to 15 years after the drug hits the market or extended to 25 years under current rules, companies could get a 50% increase in profit without the sleazy shenanigans.
Increase HSA Limits to Lower Health Care Costs
Health Savings Accounts (HSA) allow money to be saved tax free in an account for future medical costs, effectively lowering your expenses by up to a third.
Congress should simply increase the maximum annual contribution limits, make them available to everyone regardless of which health plan they have, and allow more things to be purchased with an HSA debit card. Since people will be paying out of pocket, they will shop for the best price, creating competition in the marketplace.
Keep Millennials Home: Win Them Over Next Year
Millennials are now the largest living generation but they're generally pretty flakey, apathetic about politics, and don't particularly like the GOP or Trump. There is little hope of changing their minds before November so it's best if we just don't give them a reason to show up to the polls.
They didn't really vote in 2016 because they didn't like Trump or Hillary. However, that has changed and they're now showing up in special elections in 2018 and their numbers are expected to increase.
Millennials grew up with technology, are suffocating under student debt, and the word "socialism" doesn't seem so bad. Despite promising plans early on, Trump's administration hasn't really made millennials' lives easier.
Student debt relief is nowhere to be found and jobs are still hard to come by. They live with their parents, can't afford a house, and love both net neutrality and rallying behind heart-warming causes.
Placate them with jobs, lowering student debt, reinstating net neutrality, and keeping the elephant trophy ban.
Lower Student Debt
Politically, this is a big winner. A major part of Bernie Sanders' success was his free college tuition platform.
All age groups are still paying off student debt and 25% of millennials rely on their parents to help pay back loans.
Last year, Trump made some promising plans that even garnered praise from the LA Times which would cap loan payments to 12.5% of income and complete loan forgiveness after 15 years. This didn't pan out and there's little relief in sight.
Right now, there is a bipartisan bill in the House (H.R. 4001) introduced by my former opponent to allow students to re-finance federal loans to 3.9%, down from around 6.8%. Trump should support this. It's a good starting point and an easy reach across the aisle.
Keep Net Neutrality: It's Really Popular
One of the few things Obama got right was net neutrality. It's a huge sleeper issue and a big winner with the public.
Millennials absolutely love net neutrality and the faintest inkling of taking away their cat videos and pr0n... well, let's just say wars have been started over far, far less.
And let's not even get into the fact that the FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, may be the only guy in America more hated than Facebook's Zuckerberg.
It's puzzling that conservatives would favor its repeal. Without it, tech companies will find sneaky, if not overt, ways to silence them.
For example, slowing the load time of a website by just a couple seconds will increase a site's bounce rate, which is the number of people who leave right away. An ISP slowing down alt-media websites, even slightly, could effectively cut their reach in half.
Trump should rally the GOP behind this week's Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to overrule the FCC. It can pass the House with Trump's help.
Save The Elephants
Lifting the elephant trophy ban was a terrible idea even though it is on a "case-by-case" basis. Yes, there is a case to be made that trophy hunting actually helps endangered species by providing monetary incentives to preserve them, but it's way too nuanced for the public. Right now is definitely not the time to take up this fight.
With midterms around the corner and knee jerk reactions spreading like wildfire on social media, let's just keep the trophy ban in place. The only thing lifting the ban may accomplish is convincing millennials and environmental activists to get to the polls.
Focus Tweets (Especially Mean Ones) On the Issues
It's no secret that even Trump's base has a love/hate relationship with his tweets. I like them, many don't, but they'll never stop.
Trump wouldn't be Trump without the occasional jab, but he should pick his battles more carefully and always spin them to be about the voters instead of himself. Trump can get away with tweeting whatever he wants so long as he is legitimately delivering on his biggest promises, but so far he hasn't been.
On a more pragmatic note, Trump's tweets have also been used against him by federal judges. Stick to his campaign agenda is all I can say.
Trump has a long list of achievements but they ultimately won't save the GOP from themselves in November.
His biggest policy wins were getting us out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Paris Climate Accord. A denuclearized North Korea would be Nobel Prize worthy. Sadly, none of these will be fully appreciated by the public since Americans never felt their aftermath.
The "historic tax cuts" are okay and all, but it's a big mistake to campaign on them for midterms.
Only one achievement matters: fix immigration, and he's failing.
What Can Trump's Base Can Do?
The worst thing we can do is give Trump a pass and blame Congress when he messes up, like many did when he did not veto the omnibus bill. Trump is incredibly perceptive and he can see the tides change before anyone else even gets their feet wet.
We must apply liberal doses of tough love when he does bad and stroke his ego when he does good. Behind all that bluster and tough talk, Trump is a softy who actually cares what people think about him.
Do whatever you can think of to get Trump's attention: from sending your MAGA hats back to the White House to mailing in pics of yourself holding up signs.
Our love is not unconditional, President Trump.