Sometimes it feels like America is in a constant state of tug of war. Our culture, politics, and society are being pulled back and forth by two powers with radically different views on how America should be run.
Occasionally one side gets the upper hand, and for a few years we're pulled way over into one direction. But, as surely as the sun will rise, the other side gets the upper hand, and we're pulled back. Rarely does it seem like we're in the happy middle, where the best ideas from both sides can have a positive effect.
Conservatives have had a lot to celebrate over the last few months. Our candidate, Donald Trump, crushed the expectations of the liberal media, established politicians, and a billion-dollar campaign to become the next President of United States. On top of that, Congress will enjoy a GOP majority in both houses. Republicans haven't enjoyed this kind of influence since 1929.
We've watched as Trump announced strong, conservative, no-nonsense leaders for his cabinet. There have even been big announcements about his influence on our economy already, from companies like Carrier and others.
Over the next four years, perhaps more, the tug of war will be in Republicans' favor. But how long will it last?
It's safe to say that Trump's administration will take steps to overturn many of Obama's policies and perhaps undo much of his influence in our country. You can be happy about that, or not, but that's the reality. But what about Trump's influence? In four or eight year's time, will we have another liberal President ready to reverse everything Trump has done?
While it may seem that way, our government isn't as flimsy as that. While Trump will reverse much of Obama's measures, there are things he can't completely erase. Like Obamacare. We can never go back to a time when the U.S. government didn't have its fingers in our health care system. Even if Trump repeals the Affordable Healthcare Act, he'll have to replace it with something. And keep some of the measures that currently exist.
It's a Pandora's Box of legislation. You can never really put everything back inside (ahem, the Patriot Act?). Conservatives will never be able to reverse the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage (not that I'm in favor of doing so), or alter the regressive left's move for transgender rights. Trump can't go back to a time before the rise of ISIS, or bring back the lives of the many they've killed.
So there will be plenty of baggage the United States will carry in years to come, thanks to President Obama. Our hope as conservatives is that President Trump will do much more to strengthen our nation, despite the lasting, radical effects of the last eight years.
But is that how it's always going to be? Is the fate of American citizens always in flux, based on the whims of whatever party is in power?
To a certain extent, yes. That's the reality of having a civilized society. There will always be people in power, some with intentions and politics that we won't like. The Constitution was written, however, to keep those powers in check. Not just through the three branches of government, but through our civil liberties like Freedom of Speech and the Right to Bear Arms.
But there will come a time when the left will once again get the upper hand. How soon that time will come will be based on several things.
First is the success of President Trump: if Trump manages to have an amazing four years, he will easily be reelected. Should his administration be wildly successful, with the economy soaring and the end of threats like ISIS, Republicans will have an easier job getting a successor into the White House.
In recent years, we haven't seen back-to-back Presidents of the same party. The last time that happened was when George H. W. Bush followed Reagan. That was 1989, almost a lifetime ago in terms of American politics.
It seems by the end of a President's time in office, there is enough baggage and ill-will to make it look like they weren't successful. President Bill Clinton's time ended with the Lewinsky scandal, overshadowing anything good he did and paving the way for a very conservative replacement. Bush's time ended with a disastrous war in Iraq that all but gave the election to Obama, who never voted for the war. And now Obama is leaving with a sharp rise in terrorism and chaos in the Middle East, not to mention his unpopular policies on immigration and laws like Obamacare.
Trump didn't have to do much to convince enough voters to pick him over Obama's christened replacement.
So Trump's got his work cut out for him if he wants his administration to end positively. Otherwise, the Democrats will have a huge advantage come 2020 or 2024.
Second is how much the Democratic Party is willing to reform. Some are making Hillary Clinton's loss about her outdated political stances. While she was following in Obama's radically liberal footsteps, she was still seen as a vestige of an older Democratic Party. Todd S. Purdum of Politico said she was unable to connect with modern liberals, adhering to the same kind of politics her husband had in the 90's.
By 2016, spurred by anger at Wall Street, and at Washington gridlock and business as usual, the Democratic Party had moved well to the left of the one Bill Clinton had inherited in 1992. And while Hillary Clinton recognized the change intellectually, she seemed unable to catch up to the practical realities of its political implications for her campaign. (via Politico)
It seems that liberals like Purdum think Hillary lost because she wasn't liberal enough, or couldn't convince young, progressively-minded voters that she truly embraced issues that they cared about.
I'm not sure this is true.
Hillary Clinton was championed by her democratic cohorts; they essentially gave her the nomination. And while many were bitter over Bernie Sanders' loss, I'm going to wager most progressives voted for Hillary over Trump. To say that she lost the election because she wasn't convincingly liberal is to ignore the real reasons Trump won.
It's the radical platform of modern liberals that drove many Americans away from their party. Even Saturday Night Live acknowledged that the bizarre stances progressives are taking is alienating Americans.
Obama won in 2008, not because America was clamoring for a redefining of family or gender, but because he promised things like affordable healthcare and better jobs for the working class. Yet after eight years, with nothing to show for his promises, Americans flocked to the new man making promises. Even Obama had to admit that many of his supporters voted for Trump.
It's this extreme stance that many liberals are taking, from supporting redefinitions of gender to patronizing dangerous groups like Black Lives Matter- who call for the death of cops- that have turned Americans against them.
And that's not to mention their Socialist policies that are finally upsetting Americans across the country.
Unless the majority of Democrats back away from the more extreme characters in their party, they will continue to drive voters away. With news that figures like Elizabeth Warren and Keith Ellison are taking greater control over the party, things aren't looking very good.
The only way Democrats have a chance in 2020 and beyond is if they find less polarizing figures to become the face of the party, and stick to more left-center politics that don't alienate Americans.
Otherwise, the GOP will be dominating this tug of war for many years to come.