Each year brings new hope and opportunity to move our society closer to visions for a peaceful, productive, prosperous, and united nation. The path rarely is a straightforward journey and it was not in 2018. The year was a pivotal one for our political environment, national economy, and society overall. Many of the events and issues will shape how our nation moves forwards towards the 2020 election cycle.
The most impactful political event that occurred in 2018 hands down was the Supreme Court nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In 2016, President Donald Trump placed his first Supreme Court Justice in Justice Neil Gorsuch with little conflict. Surprising, but few doubted Democrats and their political machine would once again sit idle President Trump received another opportunity so soon. In 2018, President Trump received that opportunity with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, widely considered the swing vote, despite a largely conservative record. In response, Democrats and many progressive liberal fringe groups raised a war chest to oppose any nominee President Trump brought forward.
President Trump selected DC Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who was nominated to the Circuit Court by President George W. Bush with strong bipartisan support. Then Judge Brett Kavanaugh had a stellar judicial record, many decisions regarded as aligned with mainstream Americans and in concert with Constitutional intentions. Kavanaugh was a family-oriented individual who coached his children’s sports teams. During the hearings, Judge Kavanaugh effectively handled the Democratic playbook, speaking out against the obvious political bias and addressing any concerns. But, Democrats and their backers would not let political norms and decency deter their efforts in stopping a key Trump nomination.
The Democratic opposition campaign focused around unfounded and uncorroborated claims of sexual misconduct, which Democrats brought forward strategically in an attempt for a last-minute derailment. The ploy appeared highly political and proved destructive to Democratic long-term objectives. In contrast, the GOP afforded the prominent accuser the opportunity to be heard by the committee and nation at large, with President Trump requesting an expansion of the background checks to get to the bottom of the accusations. The hearing and expanded investigation provided no credible evidence to connect Brett Kavanaugh to any of the accusations, as many supposed witnesses negated the accusers’ accounts. Brett Kavanaugh prevailed to the Supreme Court.
The opposition tactics used by Democrats in the Kavanaugh nomination hurt the party’s chances to complete their blue wave. Prior to the nomination, Democrats appeared ready to take both Houses of Congress and many key state races. Afterwards, Democrats fortunes were somewhat muted, despite winning the House. The races that media elites placed great emphasis on went the way of the GOP.
The 2018 midterms set the stage for two years of political gridlock and further political divisions as America returns to a divided Congress. Democrats will control the House of Representatives with the gavel returning to Nancy Pelosi, America’s least trusted politician. While the Senate remains in control of the GOP with a slightly higher majority. The outcome was not a direct referendum on President Trump, as many candidates Trump supported earned victories while numerous candidates backed by his predecessors saw defeat.
The divided Congress will need to hit the ground running as it inherits a government shutdown over border security measures needed to protect our southern border. Democrats seek to appease Latino voters by supporting open borders, while Republicans want immigrants to utilize our formal immigration system, with willingness to modernize it. Campaigning on eliminating the risks associated with illegal immigration, President Trump vowed to never again sign a spending bill that did not include border funding, which he is holding firm to that promise. Incoming Democrats aim to address the situation with proposals that do not meet President Trump’s demands, which have little chance of succeeding.
The issue of border security took a greater place in the national debate due to the migrant crisis, caused by caravans of migrants poised to illegally enter the United States through Mexico. While President Trump was a bit hysterical in calling it an invasion, the mass movement should not be allowed to enter, despite the financial and political support by many progressive liberal fringe groups. The United States government took appropriate steps to prevent entry and keep potential migrants on the Mexico side of the border. Time will tell whether President Trump will cut off federal funding for nations that support the migrants, as they shirk their responsibilities to their citizens.
The American economy remained strong throughout the year in regard to job and wealth creation, in spite of trade worries. The Trump Administration is taking strong measures in addressing unfair trade practices that commonly occur between our economic allies as well as our neighbors as well. Late in 2018, the Trump Administration announced it reached an agreement with both Canada and Mexico to modernize NAFTA to improve outcomes for American businesses and workers. For most of the year, the Trump Administration utilized tariffs and pressure to counter actions taken by China for decades, which harmed outcomes for American companies and negatively impacted global markets. While some worry it will harm global trade, many also feel the actions are long overdue. The strong tactics appear successful in bringing China to the negotiating table.
The year 2018 was a significant setback for those hoping for the return of bipartisanship and political unity. American lost strong voices for bipartisanship and political decency with the passing of President George H.W. Bush and Senator John McCain. Both were respected war heroes who served the United States in the field of battle and the halls of politics. President George H.W. Bush is regarded as the most influential one-term president in our nation’s history, continuing his service to his nation well past his term expiration. Sen. John McCain served Arizonians as Senator for decades, providing a strong voice for political decency regardless of party. Both will truly be missed.
Americans went to the movies at a historical rate, as blockbusters like Black Panther and Avengers Age of Ultron dominated theaters. Specifically, Black Panther enjoyed a strong passionate given its cultural impact to our society. The movie is the first superhero movie to receive an Academy Award nomination for a drama. Americans listened to a great deal of music, largely through streaming channels with notable albums from Ed Sheeran and Drake.
In closing, there are many resolutions needed for our nation in 2019. While America is returning to greatness, our political system can be less chaotic and political civility can become more of a staple. Additionally, Americans can proactively treat each other better on a day to day basis, setting aside greed, entitlement, and irrationality for community, kindness, and law abidance. We can be better and should be.