Opinion | Morgan Liddick: The last word on 2019
On Your Right
Let’s take a day to look over the year we had.
All things considered, 2019 was a pretty good year. Economically, the country is booming, with per capita gross domestic product among the world’s highest at more than $65,100.This December saw very high levels of consumer confidence in the economy, possibly the result of historically low unemployment rates. Nearly every group enjoyed historic or near-historic levels of employment. Wages generally went up, as well, by an average of over 5%, year over year in November. It was a very good year for the American economy, its workers and investors. Despite the gloom and naysaying, the complaints and criticism, we prospered in 2019.
No small part of this prosperity was due to President Donald Trump’s willingness to make sacred cows into steaks. The successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement is superior to its predecessor, but it took a leader willing to challenge the status quo to get negotiations started, let alone done. Similarly, we are now about one-third done with trade agreements with China, which will make it easier to bring Asia’s perennial currency manipulator and intellectual property rights thief to book for bad behavior. Again, this took a leader interested in pursuing America’s interests vigorously, rather than simply managing its decline.
As a whole internationally, more things are going America’s way than not. If the preening leaders of our NATO partners poke fun at what they see as Trump’s foibles behind his back, at least they are now paying what they promised into the partnership. The grand socialist alliance in Latin America has lost a founding member country, England is on the way out of the Eurocrats’ grip, and Iran’s grand play for hegemony in the Middle East seems stymied. Even “Li’l Rocket Man” in North Korea has been reduced to repeating former threats, which didn’t work the first time and are likely to meet a worse response this time around.
Domestic politics in 2019 was a thousand-ingredient casserole. The minority of the country consumed and blinded by hatred for the president proceeded, to paraphrase Talleyrand, from tragedy to farce. The former was the much-ballyhooed Mueller Report, touted for months by Democrat politicians and the media as the end of the Trump administration. When it blew up in the Democrats’ faces instead, they turned without missing a beat to the latter, a kangaroo court of impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives, voting on a strictly partisan basis to charge the president with two offenses so nebulous they might not even be offenses. Obstruction of Congress? Isn’t that sometimes called a veto?
The cherry on top was Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s holding up the articles of impeachment in a fit of pique because she could not tell the U.S. Senate how to conduct its trial. Evidently, knowledge of the U.S. Constitution — the document Democrats claim to be protecting — is thin with them: The speaker seems unaware not only that the executive branch is an independent arm of the government rather than a creature of congress but also that the Senate is independent of the House and makes its own rules. The result of this willful ignorance is that the Trump-hating contingent on Capitol Hill looks like a petulant child wailing on the playground that she lost because the game was not played by her rules.
The Democratic Party continued its demolition-derby nomination process that, like many NASCAR races, featured candidates making only left turns. Their hearty embrace of socialism, government-only health care, confiscatory taxation, controls on speech and other forms of authoritarianism continues at a breakneck pace, so one wonders if the result will be another candidate so doctrinaire as to be unelectable. Think George McGovern or Barry Goldwater and cringe.
Republicans continue to adjust themselves to Trump, who continues to violate every norm in the standard politicians’ playbook while being cheered for it. His election speaks volumes about the American electorate, but at the moment, he seems to be one of a very few political leaders doing any listening.
What does 2020 hold? More of the same, in all probability. Domestically and internationally, most leaders seem content to replay past actions using shopworn themes, either expecting different results or due to a curious sort of paralysis in the face of novel circumstances. Both are good for our country since we have a leader who thrives on those circumstances.
Whether his enemies acknowledge it or not.
Morgan Liddick’s column “On Your Right” publishes Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Liddick spent 27 years working for the U.S. Foreign Service, primarily living abroad. He also spent 12 years teaching U.S. history and Western civilization at community colleges in Colorado and Texas. He lived in Summit County as recently as 2015. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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