weather icon Clear

Jim Hartman: Nevada ‘political disaster’ for party of Trump

President Donald Trump’s political approach is to never admit a mistake or setback. So, he proclaimed the midterm election result a “tremendous success.” In truth, the outcome was an overall GOP defeat and a devastating one in Nevada.

Republican Senate gains were a consolation, with Democratic incumbents defeated in Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri and Florida. The Democrats paid a price for their hyper-partisan hysteria in the Kavanaugh hearing, manifest prior to the 11th-hour sexual assault claim made by Christine Ford.

At least 227 demonstrators were arrested for interruptions in the first week of the hearing, and Democratic Senators added to “resistance” chaos by making 44 interjections in the hearing’s first hour. The confirmation floor vote was punctuated by shrieks and ejections in the Senate gallery. Republicans framed the issue as “the rule of law” vs. “mob rule”.

In the end, there was never any question about the professional qualifications of Justice Kavanaugh—the American Bar Association gave him its highest recommendation. The story told by Christine Ford was never corroborated even from her closest friends and was refuted by the witnesses she identified.

It was Republican Senators Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, (even) Jeff Flake and, especially, Susan Collins, who were credited with energizing GOP voters for the midterm election ( the “Kavanaugh effect”). Collins’ speech on the Senate floor restored reason to the Kavanaugh confirmation. Earlier, each of these four GOP Senators was the subject of insulting “tweets” from President Trump.

With an expected two seat GOP Senate gain, it will make it easier to confirm judicial and political nominees and gives Republicans greater leverage in spending fights.

But Democrats won the House decisively, gaining 35-40 new seats. Republicans won rural districts, while Democrats romped in the cities. Most ominously, Republicans lost their House majority because they lost ground in the suburbs, especially in relatively affluent areas with college-educated voters.

The House defeat is also a message from moderate Republicans and independents, especially women put off by Mr. Trump’s rancorous style. An October Wall Street Journal-NBC poll puts the problem in sharp relief. While 44% of voters approve of Trump’s policies, some 20% like his policies but dislike him personally. Worse for Trump, the share of voters who dislike him personally but like his policies increased in the past two years.

The party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan has become the party of Trump. Political parties require core values and for Republicans those values center on individual freedom. The one value above all others that defined the modern Republican Party, especially the last four Republican presidents preceding Trump, is civility. Trump’s “road rage” bombast with indiscriminate targets is not a winning value.

The GOP was most robust when Ronald Reagan was president. To Reagan governing was about finding solutions—in an atmosphere of mutual respect. The differences between Reagan and Trump are stark. Simply put, Reagan was always a gentleman, unfailingly gracious to friends and foes alike.

Reagan appealed to our hopes and painted a picture of a sunnier future. In 2014, Nevada Republicans swept to a landslide victory on the coattails of Gov. Brian Sandoval, whose sunny aspirational vision of a “New Nevada” was in the Reagan tradition.

All was reversed in 2016 and 2018. Led by Trump, the Nevada GOP lost two Senate races, two House seats, the governorship and all constitutional offices except secretary of state. Both state legislative chambers “flipped” to the Democrats, with Republicans losing 15 seats. In short— political disaster.

If President Trump doesn’t expand his coalition, Democrats are poised to create a new progressive government in 2020.

Jim Hartman is an attorney residing in Genoa, Nevada.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Tom Rysinski: Football’s zebra herd needs some thinning

Criticizing officials who work high school games is not something I enjoy doing. They’re not making a fortune, they put up with a lot, and you really have to love doing it to devote so much time and energy to it. And in most sports there is a shortage of them. So criticizing them is usually inappropriate.

Tim Burke: A look at open carry issues in nation

Walmart recently announced that it is “respectfully requesting” that customers not openly carry guns into its stores.

Steve Sebelius: Leadership lessons from people who’ve been there

Former governors and senators discussed leadership lessons at a symposium at UNLV’s William S. Boyd Law School last week in a program headed by former Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Thomas Knapp on universal basic income: a totalitarian state’s dream scheme

Andrew Yang’s small but solid polling in the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination race shows that “Universal Basic Income” has gone from a fringe idea to an idea with a foothold in the popular consciousness.

Thomas Knapp: ‘Nuance’ in politics, public policy?

In 2004, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry called his ever-shifting position on the war in Iraq “nuanced” as a way of explaining why he was for it before he was against it and why his prescriptions for its future kept changing.