THE CARLSON CHRONICLES: Will voters send message in 2018 midterm election?

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President Donald Trump continues to play a form of Russian roulette virtually unseen since the nation’s founding. In the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., he continues to reinvent the rules seemingly with little forethought and leaves confusion, anger and anguish in his path.

Each day the 24-hour news cycle is all about Trump all the time and his latest tweets, which jump all over the map, portray a man who can flip-flop in a nanosecond and thinks nothing of lying. His ego seems to need insatiable feeding all day, every day.

His strategy appears to be always playing to his hardcore base in the belief that other Republicans will jump into the primaries for the 2020 presidential race and again will be unable to coalesce under one challenger. Thus, with a mere plurality, he will again win the Republican nomination.

That assumes he will not have been impeached and removed for his erratic and dangerous game of providing constant entertainment to the media and his base. Unfortunately, his fumblings and bumbles in foreign affairs could have real catastrophic consequences that lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Some speculate the House has not approved impeachment charges and then asked the Senate to conduct the trial because there is little stomach for tearing the nation apart. Additionally, insiders have a great deal of confidence in the three U.S. Marine Corps generals who surround POTUS: General James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense; General John Kelly, the chief of staff; and General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

This triumvirate of generals, along with the vice president and a majority of the cabinet, can in fact under the 25th Amendment remove a president if he becomes deranged. The Congress does not have to concur.

The voters can of course send their own message in November 2018 by voting for the Democratic or the Independent candidate running for Congress against a Republican incumbent. In modern times, the mid-term elections usually see the party of the president lose about 11 seats.

There have been, however, some tidal wave elections in which the electorate gets out and cleans up a mess. Good examples are the New Deal in 1934, the post World War II 1946 election, the landslide election of LBJ in 1964, and the Gingrich Revolution of 1994.

Members of Congress go to great lengths to keep their seats and further rig the system through shrewd gerrymandering of district boundaries. Are you surprised that after each election, nine times out of 10 the incumbent wins?

The key to casting an informed ballot is most often one taking the time to read about the issues and knowing where one’s representative stands. Too often, one has to cut through a great deal of baloney before starting to ascertain the congressman’s real views.

For the system to work best, though, it is incumbent upon the minority party to put up viable candidates for office and to provide decent party support to the viable candidate. One need look no further than the congressional district immediately to the west of North Idaho, the 5th District in the state of Washington, currently represented by Cathy McMorris-Rodgers.

Two weeks ago, former state senator and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown announced her candidacy to replace McMorris-Rodgers. A former professor of economics at Eastern Washington University and the former head of the WSU-Spokane campus, Brown is a shrewd, canny political veteran and should give the incumbent a competitive challenge.

If there is an anti-Trump tide, Spokane Democrats have come up with a more-than-qualified challenger, a political veteran who can do a decent job of representing their interests.

Look now by contrast at Idaho’s First Congressional District, an open seat now that Rep. Raul Labrador has decided to run for governor. So far three have announced their candidacy — all Republicans. They are former attorney general and lieutenant governor David Leroy; the presumed front-runner, former state Sen. Russ Fulcher from Canyon County; and state Rep. Luke Malek, from Kootenai County.

On Labor Day at the annual North Idaho Labor Rally and Picnic in Post Falls, I asked one of the region’s top labor leaders, Brad Cedarblom, if he was aware of any potential Democratic candidate for the seat. He said he was not aware of anyone.

An old political saying applies: “You have to have somebody to beat somebody.”

Voters in Idaho may want to send a message of dismay to D.C. in November 2018, but won’t have the opportunity. Voters in the state of Washington’s 5th district, by contrast, will be able to send a message.

Will they?

• • •

Chris Carlson is a longtime Idaho political writer who lives in Medimont.

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