Silver Linings in Blue Victories

Silver Linings in Blue Victories

November 08, 2017

It's been called a "rejection," "rebuke," and "disaster" for Republicans, but are last night's election results really as significant as the media's making them out to be? Some experts say no. After a string of special election beatings, the victories for Democrats Ralph Northam (Va.) and Phil Murphy (N.J.) are a huge relief to an embattled Left. Watching blue states like Virginia and New Jersey deal a death blow to the GOP's hopes of recapturing the governor's mansion was gratifying to liberals, but not incredibly surprising. As CNBC warns its overly exuberant counterparts, these are states that have been "swinging for Democrats for almost two decades."

"The consensus take on the sweeping wins for the Democrats in the Old Dominion is that this is a repudiation of President Donald Trump, his policies, and his political tone. Not exactly," warns Jake Novak.

"What the election results really prove without a doubt is that Virginia is now undeniably blue. The Democrats have won the state three straight times in presidential elections, four of the last five governor's elections, and the once solid red state even has two Democrats representing it in the U.S. Senate. The reasons this has happened are a series of demographic and political factors that were in motion long before Donald Trump became a candidate."

While the Left is exchanging morning-after high fives, all is hardly lost. The media's narrative is that this is a repudiation of President Trump's agenda. But that doesn't necessarily jive with other races in Virginia, which, with the exception of Gillespie, were much tighter. In fact, the more conservative down-ticket candidates (like those vying for attorney general and lieutenant governor) won more votes than Gillespie. Liberal donors managed to capture a significant number of statehouse seats, whose campaigns they'd been targeting with significant contributions for months. Republicans couldn't compete financially -- or, it turns out, emotionally.

President Trump, Novak points out, "needn't worry so much about Virginia, but he should be concerned about Democratic organizing and get-out-the-vote efforts." The enthusiasm gap definitely favored Democrats, who flooded the polls, turning out eight percent more voters -- 28 percent -- than 2013. Interestingly enough, it wasn't a lack of participation on evangelicals' part that cost Gillespie and others (turnout was only down a single point -- to 27 percent -- from 2013). Conservatives just couldn't seem to match the fervor on the other side. Even so, Gillespie still raked in 79 percent of the white evangelical vote compared to 81 percent for Cuccinelli and 80 percent for Trump.

Meanwhile, not all of the news for Democrats was good. They may have won the biggest prizes in New Jersey and the extension of the swamp in Virginia, but they certainly aren't winning any popularity contests. Analysts were stunned by favorability ratings for the party, which spell disaster once the broader electorate is engaged. As Ryan Struyk tweeted, a lot of Americans seem to have held their noses to vote. "Some frightening splits in new @CNN poll for Dems. Only 48 percent of nonwhites and 33 percent of people under 35 (!) have favorable view of Dem party." That's a big picture problem for the democrats, who are facing record highs in disapproval. CNN reports, "Only 37 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Democrats, down from 44 percent in March of this year. A majority, 54 percent have an unfavorable view, matching their highest mark in polls from CNN and SSRS, CNN/ORC and CNN/USA Today/Gallup stretching back to 1992."

Of course, the news isn't exactly rosy for Republicans either, who are feeling the heat of a series of congressional missteps. With Trump's agenda hampered at almost every turn (in a GOP-controlled Congress), you can't blame voters for venting their frustration. When Democrats overstep on social issues (as many blame Hillary Clinton for doing in 2016), Americans turn to Republicans -- who often fail to act, despite the mandate they've been given. Obviously, if the GOP has any hope of preserving its majority, the Senate will have to pull itself together on the big ticket-items before voters have a chance to reconsider.

The takeaway from Tuesday's results is this: these two states are an extremely small sample size of mainly blue voters. The real test will come in Alabama, the heart of Trump country, where the special election for Jeff Session's old Senate seat will give us a much better indication of what Americans are thinking. Even now, though, in swing states like Pennsylvania, the support for the president runs deep. Virtually unscathed by the congressional drama, the president still polls well in purple states. In a fascinating article, Politico tries to explain why Trump's base is still rallying around the president, supplying the bulk of his rocky approval ratings.

"Over the course of three rainy, dreary days last week," Michael Kruse writes, "I revisited and shook hands with the president's base -- that thirty-something percent of the electorate who resolutely approve of the job he is doing, the segment of voters who share his view that the Russia investigation is a 'witch hunt' that 'has nothing to do with him,' and who applaud his judicial nominees and his determination to gut the federal regulatory apparatus... In spite of unprecedented unpopularity -- nearly all people who voted for Trump would do it again."

As we saw with Clinton, who was abandoned by blue collar voters for her extreme social stance ("the Democratic Party cared more about where someone else went to the restroom than whether they had a good-paying job"), Middle America still embraces Trump's agenda. But they also understand his limitations without a cooperative Congress. "I asked [voter Pam] Schilling what would happen if the next three years go the way the last one has," Kruse shares. "'I'm not going to blame him,'" Schilling said. "'Absolutely not.'"

"Next to [another person I was interviewing] was a gray-haired man who told me he voted for Trump and was happy so far because 'he's kept his promises.'"

"I asked which ones."

"'Border security.' But there's no wall yet. "'No fault of his,' the man said."

"What else? 'Getting rid of Obamacare.' But he hasn't. 'Well, he's tried to.'"

"What else? 'Defunding Planned Parenthood.' But he didn't. 'Not his fault again,' the man said."

As for Tuesday's results, liberals have the momentum -- that much is clear. But it's nothing a determined the GOP House and Senate can't wrestle back with big wins on tax reform and health care. It's not an impossible task for conservatives, but it's certainly an urgent one.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

The Korean War on Faith

November 08, 2017

President Trump's speech in South Korea was remarkable for several things, but it was his mention of religious persecution that got our attention. In a message of warning to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the president took the opportunity on one of the world's largest stages to chastise the horrible conditions for Christians in places like China and North Korea. While the world watched, the president tackled one of the greatest human rights abuses taking place in the Asian part of the globe.

"In the part of Korea that was a stronghold for Christianity before the war, Christians and other people of faith who are found praying or holding a religious book of any kind are now detained, tortured, and, in many cases, even executed."

"North Korean women are forced to abort babies that are considered ethnically inferior. And if these babies are born, the newborns are murdered. One woman's baby born to a Chinese father was taken away in a bucket. The guard said it did not deserve to live because it was impure. So why would China feel an obligation to help North Korea?"

For many North Koreans, just the act of worship is a life-threatening proposition. Hunted down and terrorized for their faith, the underground church has lost countless members to prison camps (or worse) simply for sharing the gospel -- a freedom most of us take for granted every day. From the very beginning of his administration, Donald Trump has been intentional about his desire to pick up the torch for religious liberty, first trying to secure it for Americans here at home through executive order and other directives. But with his nomination of Sam Brownback to Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, the administration has shown its sincerity on restoring the United States' reputation as a voice for the voiceless.

As we know from our friends at Open Doors USA, North Korea is ranked as the most oppressive place in the world for Christians -- #1 on the World Watch List. So it's no small thing that President Trump included the persecuted church in his admonishment of Kim Jung Un. As Open Doors explains, the situation is so dire that Christians are forced to hide their faith even from their own spouses. "Simply owning a Bible is enough to be considered an enemy of the state, and many North Korean Christians are spending the rest of their lives malnourished, mistreated, and dying in prison." As quickly as things have deteriorated for Americans of faith under Barack Obama, the culture here is nothing like the nightmare our brothers and sisters face overseas.

When so many other priorities hang in the balance, we're extremely grateful that President Trump made a point of highlighting the plight of North Korean Christians. Now, it's time for the U.S. Senate to act on Governor Brownback's confirmation, so that Americans can start giving the world's persecuted new hope – first, that they aren't alone, and secondly, that help is on the way.

For more on North Korea, specifically the nuclear threat, don't miss FRC's Lt. General Jerry Boykin on Fox News's "Your World with Neil Cavuto."

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Delaware, Beware, of Kids Choosing Their own Race

November 08, 2017

"White boys could soon self-identify as black girls in Delaware." So begins one of the latest columns of Fox News's Todd Starnes, reporting on what parents probably wish was fake news. Unfortunately for the families in The First State, reality may soon be optional for kids in Delaware public schools. In one of the more incredible headlines of the year, local officials in the state's Department of Education are actually debating a regulation that would let students choose their race and their gender!

If it sounds unbelievable, that's because it is. For the last few years, families have been shocked that they'd have to defend traditional biology in places as sacred as restrooms, showers, locker and changing rooms. Now, the proponents of this government-sponsored make believe are trying to make everything self-subjective. It's the campaign for these "protected characteristics," local liberals argue, that would give children the ability to redefine their most defining traits. And without ever calling home! Under "Regulation 225 Prohibition of Discrimination," students can make these determinations without letting their parents know.

"Prior to requesting permission from a parent or legal guardian, the school should consult and work closely with the student to access the degree to which, if any, the parent or legal guardian is aware of the Protected Characteristic and is supportive of the student, and the school shall take into consideration the safety, health, and well-being of the student in deciding whether to request permission from the parent or legal guardian," the proposal states.

"Literally," Delaware Family Policy Council President Nicole Theis told Starnes, "if a parent affirms their child's biological sex, and now race, they are [considered] discriminatory through policies like Regulation 225. These policies are setting parents up as... unsupportive, even abusive, if they affirm their child's biological realities..."

Of course, the irony is that someone's being a busive, according to the American College of Pediatricians -- and it isn't parents! This is exactly the kind of agenda they classify as "child abuse." Theis is calling on people across the state to get involved in stopping state officials from putting kids in dangerous situations -- and keeping parents in the dark about it.

By law, the people of Delaware have 30 days to "comment" about the regulation, but the agency is under no obligation to change it. Hopefully, parents can apply enough pressure to force the governor to back away from the idea. Join Nicole and other concerned citizens by pushing back on this madness! If you're from Delaware, click here to speak up!

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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