With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Wonder How Trump Will Handle Defeat? Don’t Bother with History.

Okay, assume that $5 billion later, the midterms play out pretty much as everyone has expected for the past two years: Democrats take the House (and a clutch of governorships) and Republicans keep the Senate. What happens next? What happens when someone who is biologically incapable of acknowledging error faces the result of an election in which—if the probable becomes real—the character and conduct of the president was in fact the overwhelming reason for Republicans losing their stranglehold on Congress?

If history were a guide there would first be some humility. When the GOP lost the House and Senate in 2006, President George W. Bush called it a “thumpin’.“ When Democrats lost more than 60 seats in the House in 2010, President Barack Obama called it a “shellacking.” After that would likely come some roll-up-the-sleeves cooperation between a chastened but realistic White House and a newly ascendant opposition. After all, that’s what happened with Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Truman, notwithstanding his denunciation of the “do-nothing 80th Congress!”, worked with Republicans to shape a bipartisan postwar foreign policy. Reagan worked with Tip O’Neill and Dick Gephardt in the House and Bill Bradley in the Senate to hammer out deals on Social Security and tax reform. (Note to Republicans: that tax reform deal raised the capital gains tax to match the tax on ordinary income and closed or slashed a passel of loopholes that benefited high-income earners.). Clinton, even as his reelection campaign assailed the “Dole-Gingrich” Congress, joined his adversaries on matters from welfare reform to budgets. 

But this is where present-day reality forces us to throw all that history out the window. Can anyone who has watched Trump over the past three-plus years reasonably expect a man who considers himself the greatest president ever to reconsider his standing? The far greater likelihood is that he will take credit for saving the Senate and insist that any Republicans who did win their House races got there because he carried them over the line, while the ones who lost would have been beaten worse if not for his intervention.

Read entire article at Politico