We’ve had enough political news in half a week to last a month or more, but we know the velocity will only increase until the election. On Monday, Republicans and Democrats in Iowa participated in caucuses. President Donald Trump won the Republican caucuses in a landslide (somewhere north of 97 percent). This was not and is not news.
The news coming out of the Democratic caucuses involved a myriad of issues that affected how the votes were tabulated.
The result: The first partial results were not issued until 5 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday. It’s hard to imagine a worse start for the Democratic Party. The party that wants to control your health care can’t manage the caucus tabulation in one state.
Some have speculated that Democratic Party leaders orchestrated this delay intentionally as part of an effort to reduce the public’s trust in our system of voting. After all, if we can’t be sure that votes in Iowa are tabulated correctly, why should we believe that a correct tabulation of votes on election night is possible?
Others believe that this is simply pure incompetence. Whatever the reason, and I hope that hundreds of reporters are hard at work trying to find it, the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses debacle will live forever. While former Mayor Pete Buttigieg edged out Sen. Bernie Sanders, my bet is that Buttigieg falls dramatically in the South.
Tuesday was also the night Trump delivered the State of the Union speech in the House of Representatives. He was impeached in the same chamber in a purely partisan vote in 2019, but the Senate acquitted him on Wednesday.
During last year’s State of the Union, Trump challenged officials to “reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.” Instead, he was impeached.
While Trump has been outspoken both in interviews and tweets about his belief that the impeachment was not fair, he did not mention it once on Tuesday night. Instead, he looked forward to the future.
But the reception he got from the Democrats was ice cold. During the speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was seated behind Trump and appeared to read her copy of the speech and leaf through the pages. There were a few times when members of both parties stood up to clap, but they were few and far between.
“We are advancing with unbridled optimism and lifting our citizens of every race, color, religion and creed very, very high,” said Trump as he began.
He reminded those seated in the chamber: “Members of Congress, we must never forget that the only victories that matter in Washington are victories that deliver for the American people. The people are the heart of our country. Their dreams are the soul of our country. And their love is what powers and sustains our country. We must always remember that our job is to put America first.”
Later, Trump laid out a key issue that will likely reappear frequently during the campaign. “If forcing American taxpayers to provide unlimited, free health care to illegal aliens sounds fair to you, then stand with the radical left,” he said. “But if you believe that we should defend American patients and American seniors, then stand with me and pass legislation to prohibit free government health care for illegal aliens.”
Trump then closed his remarks by looking toward the future: “Our spirit is still young. The sun is still rising. God’s grace is still shining. And, my fellow Americans, the best is yet to come.”
A few seconds later, Pelosi tore up the typed speech she had been given.
Also seated behind Trump was Vice President Mike Pence, who studiously ignored Pelosi’s antics while continuing to clap. Good for him. In my experience, if bad behavior does not get rewarded, then it often goes away. What the person often wants is attention, distraction, control. Pence simply continuing to clap was perfect.
The Senate was expected to acquit Trump in a bipartisan vote. But my guess is that a large portion of the Democratic Party won’t be able to accept the outcome. That shouldn’t surprise us. Many of them didn’t accept the vote in November 2016 either; in fact, many stayed home to mourn the outcome.
Instead of worrying about the Democrats’ loss, or paying attention to their bad manners or their inability to count votes, we simply need to follow Pence’s lead. Keep positive. Move forward. Focus on getting things done for the American people. Republicans, let’s be the better example.