Neil Gorsuch being sworn in as a Supreme Court justice guarantees President Donald Trump will be forever known as appointing one of the most qualified, strict constitutionalist to the bench in modern history.
Gorsuch is every bit as an originalist as Justice Antonin Scalia, and at the young age of 49, he could have forty years of influence on the court. Just as Reagan’s legacy was solidified with Scalia’s appointment (following his appointment of the first woman to the Supreme Court, Arizona’s own Sandra Day O’Connor) Trump will enjoy kudos for this selection until he dies.
While I had suggested that Trump consider selecting Senator Ted Cruz, Gorsuch is a great pick. And given that he was confirmed to the federal bench unanimously, the hypocrisy of Senate Democrats in filibustering him is almost too easy to criticize. For one thing, by forcing McConnell to return to the pre-2003 standard of nominees being confirmed by simple majority, the Democrats have given up any leverage for future nominees. It’s almost certain that if Trump wins a second term he could get at least three and maybe as many as five picks.
If any of those picks are anywhere close to as solid as Gorsuch, Trump will do more to save this republic than any single person has done since Lincoln. Yes, that sounds like hyperbole, but it is, in fact, true. The invasion of government into the everyday lives of the American people over the last few decades is astounding when you really stop and think about it. There is no aspect of your own life that doesn’t have government fingerprints on it.
When you wake up in the morning and turn on your lights, you are paying fees to subsidize “green energy.” When you take a shower, you are paying extra for your water so your municipality can conduct water conservation programs. When you cook your breakfast, your butter, your jam, and your toast are more expensive because of regulations requiring nutritional information to be printed on the packaging.
You drive to work and you are paying gas taxes that pay for a lot of things that have nothing to do with roads and bridges (think light rail, bike paths, even hiking trails), and your car cost significantly more than it needs to because of government imposed miles-per-gallon requirements placed on car manufacturers.
When you work, you don’t earn your full paycheck, you pay income taxes, Medicaid taxes, Social Security taxes, state income taxes (in most states), to the tune of taking upwards of 40% of your paycheck before you even see the money.
And for what? What do you personally get for all that money that is taken?
As recently as 2000, the annual federal budget was $2.2 TRILLION and the debt was $5.6 TRILLION. Today, the federal budget is $3.9 TRILLION and the debt is an eye-popping $19.8 TRILLION! The share of the current debt is more than $61,000 for every single person in the U.S.
And yet, Democrats, and some Republicans want to spend more and more – the numbers are so out of sight even comparing it to monopoly money doesn’t do justice.
While Gorsuch may not have an immediate impact on reducing federal spending, there is no doubt that his influence on the court will help slow down and eventually turn back the invasion of government in our daily lives. It may take time, but it needs to start now.
President-elect Donald Trump can point to any number of factors that led to his election to be the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Other than the desire for change (which was a huge factor) a leading reason was the vacancy on the Supreme Court left when Justice Antonin Scalia suddenly passed away.
For many moderate to lean conservative voters who may have otherwise voted for Clinton, the prospect of the liberals taking over the court was too much to bear.
The big question is, who will Trump pick? In an unconventional move (in a very unconventional election) Trump released a list of his possible picks before the election. Chances are he will likely pick from that list. It’s become a D.C. parlor game to try to guess who he will pick.
Even though he was not on the list, I would argue Trump should consider Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz clerked at the Supreme Court, was the Solicitor General for Texas, and obviously, ran for President. The calculation for Trump would be like the move President Obama made in appointing Jon Huntsman Jr. as Ambassador to China – neutralize potential opposition. Obama believed that Huntsman would be a formidable opponent in his re-election efforts. As it turned out, Huntsman took the job, only to resign and return to the U.S. and mount a campaign. Obama’s concerns about Huntsman may have been accurate in a General Election, but he hadn’t thought through how difficult it would be for Huntsman to get through the primary.
If Trump were to pick Cruz for the Supreme Court, it would be (in part) to prevent Cruz from mounting a primary challenge in 2020. It would also be a pretty good move because Cruz is a conservative and he is young – he could be on the bench for 30 or 40 years.
Another reason to pick Cruz would be that he is so unpopular with both Republican and Democrat Senators that he may get Senate approval by acclamation! Anyone else is certain to face a brutal confirmation process as Democrats take their frustrations of losing the White House out on Trump’s nominee.
Either way, it’s going to be a fascinating process to watch.
Usually, when political hacks talk about the “undervote” we are talking about how many fewer votes a particular race had than votes for President or Governor in a district or state. However, the 2016 election exposed a new phenomenon: the presidential undervote.
In Arizona, there were 2,554,240 votes cast for President. However, there were a total of 2,661,497 ballots cast. That means that 107,257 people voted in the election but did not cast a vote for President. That is an astounding number when you compare it with the undervote in previous presidential elections. In 2012 it was 34,777, in 2008 it was 28,771, and in 2004 it was 28,734.
And the presidential undervote this year was not unique to Arizona. A Washington Post analysis shows that in the 33 state where they were able to collect the data, 1.7 million people cast a ballot but did not vote for President. Arizona ranked 2nd highest as a percentage of people who did not vote for President (behind Montana).
Obviously, the record number of people abstaining in the Presidential election is a reflection on the candidates. Donald Trump had some seriously unfavorable ratings heading into Election Day, as did Hillary Clinton. And Clinton didn’t inspire the Democratic base the way Obama did in 2008 and 2012.
Clinton was also a terrible candidate, and while the media fawned over the “amazing” operation coming out of Brooklyn, we now know that they were too smart for their own good. They made some assumptions about the election, created a model, and then never tested the model with inputs throughout the campaign.
On the morning of Election Day, internal Clinton campaign numbers had her winning Michigan by 5 points. By 1 p.m., an aide on the ground called headquarters; the voter turnout tracking system they’d built themselves in defiance of orders — Brooklyn had told operatives in the state they didn’t care about those numbers, and specifically told them not to use any resources to get them — showed urban precincts down 25 percent. Maybe they should get worried, the Michigan operatives said.
Nope, they were told. She was going to win by 5. All Brooklyn’s data said so.
President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign on the other hand was hopeful, but not confident, that he would pull off the win. They also had a data operation, but the difference was they were continuing to get inputs and making changes to strategy up to the weekend before the election. It was not just on a whim that Trump went to Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin in the last days of the campaign.
The question is how will future Presidential elections look? Is the 2016 presidential undervote an anomaly, or is this the new normal? We won’t know for four more years.