NEWS INDIA TIMES

ecause voting is voluntary in our country, political activists have to find some way to rev up Americans to do their civic duty. One old standby is calling the next election "the most important in history," or "a generation." It's easy tomake fun of this trope, but elec- tions do vary in their importance. The stakes really were higher in 1860 than they usually are. In 2012, I wrote that the election that year would be the most important since 1980. Republicans had a chance to hold the House and take the Senate andWhite House, and if they had, significant changes to Medicare would have been on the table. Oba- macare would have been dismantled before most of it took effect. The 2016 election was an important one, too. The outcome determined whether the Supreme Court would have a liberal or a con- servative majority. The nomination of Don- aldTrump alsomarked a major change in our politics that voters had to decide whether to ratify or at least accept. Midterms, too, canmatter. The 2010 elec- tion, by putting Republicans in charge of the House, brought an end to the march of big liberal legislation. President Barack Obama would go on to serve six more years, but his major legislative accomplishments ended. This year's national elections are already unusual in the emotional intensity they have generated. They may have turnout tomatch. But the truth is that the stakes this time are relatively low. A good result for the Republicans would be holding their majority in the House and adding a seat or two to their majority in the Senate. A good result for the Democrats would be winning a majority in the House and a bare majority in the Senate. If the De- mocrats take the Senate, the Trump adminis- tration's drive tomove the judiciary to the right will come to a halt. If they take either chamber, the administration will face mean- ingful oversight. But that's pretty much all that turns on the election results. If the Republicans win, they are unlikely to sendTrumpmajor legislation to sign. They may try to overhaul Obamacare again. But they passed a bill through the House with only four votes last time, and their margins are going to be smaller next time. They will not have the votes to get much done, and they don't have the appetite to leg- islate anyway. They will not be under the im- pression that they need to enact laws to win the next election, since they will just have won an election with no thanks to legislative accomplishments. (Their only big win on that front was their tax cut, which nobody thinks is doing a lot to help their campaigns.) If the Democrats win, they will be stymied by a narrowmajority in the Senate and possi- bly one in the House as well. They may not have the votes to overcome filibusters, or to weaken the minority's ability to use them. Forget about a new ban on assault weapons. And even if Democrats got big leg- islation through Congress, they surely won't have the votes to override Trump's vetoes on any issue where he has a significant number of voters in his corner. Even if House Democrats impeach the president, it will be a largely symbolic move so long as there is no prospect that two-thirds of senators will agree to remove him fromof- fice -- and that won't happen based on any- thing close to today's fact pattern. Trade policy might see different legislative outcomes depending on who wins the elec- tion, but the impact would be trifling. Parti- sanshipmight get Trump's deal with Canada andMexico through a Republican Congress and get it rejected by a Democratic Congress. But the deal makes only minor changes to ex- isting policies in North America. It would make a difference, to be sure, if the prospect of a congressional defeat provokedTrump into leaving Nafta. But in that case it would be executive action, not the congressional decision, that mattered. Some people argue that it's vital for De- mocrats to win the election, not because they are seeking different legislative outcomes but because they want to see a national rebuke of the Trump-led Republican Party. Republi- cans, they think, have to be shown that con- tinuing to support Trump will lead them to political ruin. Sorry to anyone who harbors this hope, but a Democratic wave won't accomplish this result either. The House Republicans who lose this year are practically guaranteed to be disproportionately the ones who are most critical of Trump (since they are in swing districts). On average the House Re- publicans who remain after the election will be more supportive of the president than the ones in Congress today. If Democrats take the House, they will be- come a better foil for Trump that helps him maintain his grip on Republican voters. And Trump will remind both Republican politi- cians and voters, correctly, that the party in power usually loses seats in the midterms. The only rebuke that wouldmatter toTrump and Republicans would be his losing re-elec- tion in 2020. The low stakes in the election don't mean that people shouldn't vote. Oversight and ju- dicial confirmations are at issue in any com- petitive national elections, and they matter. (Even if the Supreme Court will have a con- servative majority regardless of this year's elections, the make-up of many appellate courts will turn on their outcome.) Many states are also holding elections that could have a larger impact on their residents. But while neither party has an interest in say- ing it, this is one of the least important na- tional elections we have had in years. -B LOOMBERG News India Times November 9, 2018 2 Opinion B F or the past two years, the United States has been torn by partisan warfare un- precedented inmost of our lifetimes. But compared with what we can expect after the midterm elections, this will look like a pe- riod of relative calm and tranquility. This will be particularly true if Democrats take control of the House. The minute the polls close, President DonaldTrump and the prospective Demo- cratic presidential candidates will be liber- ated to begin their campaigns for the 2020 election. This full engagement will create an imperative for bothTrump and the Democ- rats to heighten their differences. The result will be that an already toxic political environ- ment will become evenmore poisonous. While the results from the 2016 election should give anyone pause about making pre- dictions, here is what years of working in na- tional politics leads me to believe will happen next: The incoming class of Democratic mem- bers in the House will be among the largest andmost consequential since theWatergate class of 1974, and will usher in the most sig- nificant generational, gender, racial and ide- ological transformation inmore than 40 years. These newly electedmembers will put added pressure on the Democratic Party to pursue a more aggressive liberal policy agenda to take onTrump and the Republi- cans. The presidential primary process will al- most certainly push the party even further to the left. A large field of prospective candi- dates will begin a race to establish their bona fides andmake a case to lead the resistance. They will compete for the votes of a Demo- cratic community that is angry, energized and looking for a leader who is prepared to draw stark policy contrasts withTrump and his administration on economic, environ- mental and social issues. These activists' in- fluence will be greater than in the past because of several factors, including the front-loading of the California primary in early March and changes to the party's nom- inating process that diminish the influence of superdelegates. Trump can be expected to begin a purge of his Cabinet and staff that will enable him to pursue a more muscular nationalistic agenda. He has been waiting for the conclu- sion of the midterm elections to dumpmany of his zombie Cabinet and staff members and replace themwith loyalists who will "let Trump be Trump." This sweep is likely to be broad and deep and go well beyond his chief of staff and attorney general. Meanwhile, a democratic takeover of the House would lead to two years of investiga- tions, public hearings and the possible im- peachment of Trump. Both Democrats and Trump will embrace these investigations as a way to energize their respective bases for the upcoming election. A Democratic House would give Trump a foil to once again portray himself as an out- sider taking onWashington. He has always defined himself by focusing on who and what he is fighting against. -S PECIAL TO T HE W ASHINGTON P OST NoMatterWhoWins ThisYear,WeLose Published weekly, Founded in 1975. 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Road, 29 Adarsh Society Ahmedabad 380009 Tel. 26446947 F ax. 26565596 Ramesh Ponnuru Columnist TheMidtermsOf 2018Aren't So Earth-shakingAfterAll Disclaimer: Parikh Worldwide Media assumes no liability for claims/as- sumptions made in advertisements and advertorials . By Doug Sosnik

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