opinion

Thank you, Dan Crenshaw
Injured Navy SEAL an example of humor, forgiveness and leadership

That Dan Crenshaw survived his injuries to eventually run for Congress must feel like a miracle, Patricia Murphy writes. (Courtesy Crenshaw for Congress)

OPINION — As a political columnist, the hardest part isn’t finding something to write about, it’s narrowing your focus to just one topic. For today’s column, I could have written about the election mess in Florida, President Trump’s non-attendance at a Veterans Day parade in France, the fact that Nancy Pelosi could soon be second-in-line to the presidency (it could happen), or my complaint that 2020 speculation is the new Christmas decorating (too much too soon).

But after I saw Dan Crenshaw on Saturday Night Live, everything else seemed small in comparison. If you don’t know his name, you will. If you don’t know the story, here it is.

GOP Didn’t Have a Turnout Problem, It Had a Focus Problem
Turnout was high across the board, but Republicans minimized their No. 1 issue

Voters fill out their ballots at Loudoun County High School in Leesburg, Va., on Nov. 6. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Did the 2018 midterm electorate break new political ground as the media had predicted for months or was it déjà vu all over again? The answer is both. 

In my last column before the election, I suggested that four key measurements would tell the story of this year’s midterms: party ID, ideology, turnout by unique voter groups (young voters and women), and how independents break.

Did the Politics of Division Work? Yes and No
Though America has always seen progress and pushback, this election threatened to push us back a century or two

When we look back at this election, we’ll remember all the “firsts.” But we’ll also remember that time the president called Andrew Gillum, vying to become Florida’s first African-American governor, “not equipped” and a “stone-cold thief,” Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Donald Trump is a celebrity president, more interested in declaring a “great victory” after the 2018 midterms than in vowing to bring the country together. As he sparred with the media Wednesday and bragged about outdoing Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and famous folks who stumped for the other side, he did his best Rodney Dangerfield routine, playing the aggrieved president who has all the power but gets no respect.

When asked about the violent episodes that shook America in the weeks before Nov. 6 and whether he should soften his tone, he boasted about the economy, said he was “sad” to see the violence, and then talked about his great relationship with Israel.

What Stacey Abrams Will Tell Us About America Tonight
The results out of Georgia will be a fast and clear grade of the Trump presidency

As goes Georgia, so goes the country. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is essentially the face of the resistance, Murphy writes. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Of all of the races to watch Tuesday night, the Georgia governor’s race may be the most important, both for the history it could make (Democrat Stacey Abrams could become the first black female governor in American history) and for what the results in the quickly changing state could tell us about trends in the rest of the country. It’s not exactly Peoria, but Georgia is increasingly representative of the racial, gender, political and business dynamics driving the country itself.

First and foremost, the results in Georgia will be a fast and clear grade of the Trump presidency — period. The Republican nominee, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, has fashioned himself as Donald Trump in a plaid shirt from the beginning of the cycle. Kemp’s first ad introducing himself to Georgia voters featured a gun, a chainsaw, an explosion and Kemp’s pickup — “just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take ’em home myself. Yep. I just said that!”

Looking for Trends on Election Night? Watch These 4 Key Indicators
Exit poll data will offer early clues of the final outcome

A man watches elections returns at an election night 2014 party for Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in New Orleans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — With the fog of political coverage you’re likely to see over the next week, I wanted to provide Roll Call readers with a simple how-to guide to identify important indicators on election night and what I will be focusing on as an election analyst when the first numbers begin to pour in.

You’ll hear a lot of commentary and even more speculation about the direction of the election and what specific races may mean. Here are four key indicators that can give you a good idea of how things are trending for both parties.

Presidents Once Provided Comfort and Leadership in Crises. Now They Tweet and Tongue-Lash
At a time that calls for presidential leadership, it’s nowhere to be found

After news broke that a serial bomber sent explosive devices to more than a dozen targets, President Donald Trump’s first comments were to defend himself on Twitter, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — There are times in American history when presidential leadership has made the difference between war and peace, or progress and decline.

Past American presidents have comforted the grieving, steeled the frightened, given courage to the wavering and championed the ideals of equality, liberty, strength and compassion. American presidents’ words across centuries have mattered because American leadership has mattered.

One Person, One Vote. Is It That Complicated?
Voter suppression is becoming the civil war of our time

Medgar Evers was on people’s minds in 2013 as the Supreme Court heard arguments in Shelby County v. Holder. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — I admit that voting is and has always been a celebratory ritual for me, even if the candidate is running unopposed, the office is state agriculture commissioner or my district’s makeup means my one vote won’t make much of a difference.

I watched three older siblings march for civil rights, and I am well aware that many brave folks died protecting my right to cast that ballot. While a little rain or a busy schedule might provide an excuse to “sit this one out,” it’s never enough to outweigh the legacy left by a Medgar Evers, who served his country in World War II and was murdered in front of his Mississippi home for, among other civil rights activity, leading voter registration drives in the country he protected.

What a Green Wave Can’t Hide — It’s Still the Economy, Stupid
Strong economic numbers may be giving Republicans a late boost

Supporters cheer before President Donald Trump takes the stage Monday at a rally in Houston. Republicans, with their economic track record, have given voters a clear choice in this election, Winston writes. (Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

OPINION — We’re down to the wire. Less than two weeks out from the election, this is when you begin to hear politicians and their consultants talk about campaign mechanics — mega ad buys, turnout operations, phone banks and ballot security — that will “get their candidate over the finish line.”

This year, Democrats are also bragging about their fundraising prowess, a “green wave” so to speak that gives them a winning advantage, they argue, over Republicans. Perhaps they should remember powerful fundraisers like Hillary Clinton and the 15 other Republican presidential candidates who outraised and outspent Donald Trump by a country mile and lost.

As Both Parties Play the Blame Game, Our Fiscal Future Hangs in the Balance
Policymakers sacrifice long-term economic health for short-term political gain

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies during a House Financial Services hearing in February. An out-of-control national debt directly affects the household finances of millions of Americans, Akabas and Shaw write. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — This is fiscal insanity.

The federal deficit grew 17 percent to $779 billion in the fiscal year just ended, but that’s not the worst of the problem. By the administration’s own estimate, the deficit will increase almost 40 percent to nearly $1.1 trillion in the current fiscal year. With few policymakers batting an eye, this disturbing trend has no end in sight.

Speaker Pelosi? Maybe. Tea Party Redux? Not if She Can Help It
California Democrat won’t face the same problems Boehner did eight years ago

As speaker, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is likely to lead a Democratic Caucus that is smaller than the Republican majority of 2010 and with fewer ideologues, Murphy writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — I’m not sure anyone enjoyed John Boehner’s speakership as much as I did covering him and his new majority in 2011 and 2012. What more can you ask for in a storyline than a merlot-loving congressional institutionalist who wins the speaker’s gavel on the wings of a pack of angry rebels?

Fast forward eight years to the Trump-fueled anger on the progressive left, along with projections that Democrats will more than likely win back the House, and you have to wonder if it’s time for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to switch from chocolate to cigarettes to gird herself for life leading a pack of would-be insurrectionists as Boehner had to do in 2011.