The suspense surrounding the mid-term elections in the U.S. is over. Many people predicted a “Blue Tsunami” (Blue is the color for Democrats, Red is the color for Republicans.) Anger over President Trump was expected to motivate voters, especially women and minorities, to give Democrats a majority in the House of Representatives and Senate, thereby controlling Congress.
That didn’t happen. While Democrats succeeded in gaining a majority in the House of Representatives, they actually lost seats to Republicans in the Senate. There are 2 big Senate races still undecided in the states of Arizona and Florida, but regardless of their outcomes, the Republicans will continue to control the Senate for 2 more years.
With a majority in the House, the Democrats have the power to propose new legislation and budgets for the next 2 years. However, all legislation has to be approved by the Senate and the President, so it’s unlikely significant Democratic goals can be achieved. Any Democratic effort to liberalize immigration laws or reverse tax cuts will be rejected. Any effort to liberalize labor laws will also be rejected.
With this limitation and with the goal of winning the Presidency in 2020, Democrats will likely focus on further investigations of President Trump and his allies, perhaps focusing on personal taxes paid. There is also a possibility they will try to impeach President Trump based on the results of the Russian investigation led by Robert Mueller. That report is expected any day now.
That could be a strategic mistake. Any impeachment proposal would have to be approved by the Senate and the Republicans are in control. Impeachment could also back-fire as it did with President Clinton in 1998. Voters were upset with that effort and voted to give Democrats control of the House. The Senate eventually voted to acquit President Clinton in February of 1999.
Democrats hate President Trump intensely so it’s more likely they will harass him with investigations and criticism the next 2 years rather than work on legislation that would improve national infrastructure or curb medical inflation, especially with medical prescriptions.
The bloodless civil war will continue as long as President Trump is in office. The Democrats will attack with investigations and impeachment efforts while President Trump will continue to nominate conservative judges to the Judicial Branch of government. He has already succeeded in placing more judges in 2 years than previous Presidents, highlighted by his choice of 2 new judges for the Supreme Court. These judges will serve on the Court for 20-30 years or more, a significant achievement.
And President Trump will have even more opportunities to appoint more federal judges and justices to the Supreme Court. The 2 oldest members of the Court now are both Democrats – Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 and Stephen Breyer is 80. Judge Ginsburg has been in failing health recently and just suffered 3 broken ribs in a fall in her office. The 2 youngest members of the Supreme Court are Neal Gorsuch, 51 years old and Brett Kavanaugh, 53 years old-both conservatives. If either or both of the Democratic judges are unable to serve prior to 2020, President Trump will replace them with younger conservative judges. He doesn’t need House of Representative approval – just the Senate, which has a slightly stronger majority now.
Severe political battles will continue. This means that little will be done in the area of labor law.
It will be interesting to watch the impact of employee demonstrations at Google. Thousands of employees walked off their jobs recently when they discovered executives were fired for sexual harassment but were given large severance packages. An informal employee committee submitted their demands for changes to Google’s sexual harassment policy, including the elimination of mandatory arbitration for these cases. Google just announced it will comply with that demand, which will likely result in more lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and possibly class action suits. Google will also reduce performance ratings for managers who fail to attend harassment training classes and restrict excessive alcohol drinking at company events (1 in 5 harassment complaints involve alcohol).
Unions have had very little success organizing white collar workers, especially in high tech, so it will be interesting to see if a new or established union will emerge to represent employees at Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon or other influential high tech companies. Amazon and Netflix are having a lot of difficulty with employee activism due to their intense work culture so they could receive more union attention.
While the government is unlikely to push for more employee-friendly legislation, employees at private companies may demand friendlier working conditions forcing competitors for talent to follow. Since the economy is booming and unemployment is at its lowest level in more than 30 years (3.7%), employees have the power to demand better conditions now without government help.
I’m sure many people in the U.S. were hoping that with the completion of the intense mid-term elections, we would enjoy a period of calm and reflection. That is unlikely to happen. The next 2 years leading to the 2020 Presidential election should be even more hostile and combative than the last 2 years. The war goes on.