Political commentator Juan Williams made the following claim on May 28, 2018, in an article published in The Hill: “Midterms will be referendum on Trump.” (Note 1) I disagree.
An election is about candidates whose names appear on the ballot. In November 2018, Donald J. Trump will not be on the ballot. Therefore, this election cannot be a referendum on Trump.
In his article, Juan Williams writes about various polls conducted on whether or not respondents will vote for candidates who support or oppose the idea of impeaching President Trump. Williams also writes about the role that the message of impeachment will play in driving people to the polls. The writer further discusses the division between Democrats in Congress regarding their approach to the call for impeachment of President Trump. Williams also provides his assessment of what he believes the President Trump’s base voters think of his record in office. And Juan Williams concludes by saying the following: “Trump is too big. The election will be a referendum on him.” (Note 2)
Juan Williams misses a key point, and that is, voters evaluate candidates based on the candidates’ profile, their background and history, and their record of accomplishments in public office or outside. Voters across the nation want to have a voice in the lawmaking process in Washington and in their statehouses, and they make their decisions to vote based on who they believe would best represent them. The decision really comes down to each district and state. The decision to vote for a candidate for the office of the Governor, U.S Representative, or U.S. Senate is not a referendum on President Trump.
Certainly voters can take into account whether or not a candidate is supportive of President Trump’s overall agenda, or specific policy goals of the Trump administration, when making a decision to vote. But ultimately, voters try to decide what they would like to see Washington and their state accomplish, and which candidates are best suited for the jobs.
Let us look at an example. U.S. Representative Peter King from New York voted against Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which President Trump signed into law. Among Congressman King’s main objection is “the elimination of the deduction for state income and local property taxes (SALT).” Among other things, he believes that the “$10,000 SALT cap will not be sufficient for most Long Island constituents.” (Note 3) While Congressman King voted against a major tax bill that President Trump signed into law, both Congressman King and President Trump are in agreement on other issues, notably the urgency to enforce our country’s immigration laws and fighting gang violence perpetrated by MS-13. At a May 2018 immigration roundtable in Long Island, NY, Congressman King praised President Trump on his efforts, stating: “And you are really leading the charge. And thank you for doing this. Thank you for assembling all of us here today. And thank you for mobilizing all the efforts of the federal government behind this. So thank you very much.” Congressman King also commended Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for their “great job” and “excellent work in Suffolk County and in Nassau County.” (Note 4) Clearly, Congressman King is vocal about expressing his support and opposition on legislation/actions, with regard to what he believes would be in the best interest of the constituents in New York’s 2nd Congressional District. When voters go to the polls, they will evaluate Congressman King on the job he has done to represent his district, and the election certainly would not be a referendum on President Trump.
Let us look at another example. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has been in agreement with President Trump on a wide range of policy matters, including but not limited to the Trump administration’s decision to deploy troops at the border and the new tax law that Governor Walker believes would allow a typical Wisconsin family of four to save an additional $2,508 per year. (Note 5)
However, when President Trump called for tariffs on steel and aluminium, Governor Walker expressed his opposition, stating: “If the President wants to protect good-paying, family-supporting jobs in America, especially here in Wisconsin, then he should reconsider the administration’s position on these tariffs, particularly on ultra-thin aluminum. As I described to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross last year, there is not a market in America that can support the demand for ultra-thin aluminum for employers here in Wisconsin and across the country.” It is obvious that as a successful governor, Scott Walker’s decision to support or not support the Trump administration’s actions depends on what he believes would be good for the people of Wisconsin. Therefore, on election day, Wisconsinites will decide whether to re-elect Governor Walker for a third term or not, based on the Governor’s job performance. The election will not be a referendum on President Trump.
I completely disagree with the claim that Juan Williams makes – that the midterms will be referendum on Trump. The electoral process is complex and voters take into account a wide range of factors in casting their ballot for various races all over the country. Donald J. Trump has made a tremendous impact in American politics since the time he decided to enter the presidential race. His message connected with voters across the country, and the people of America rose up to put Donald Trump in the Oval Office. However, voters examine the candidates in their districts and states, decide who would be best to represent them, and vote accordingly. When the time comes for voters to decide whether to re-elect President Trump or not, they will make their decision and cast their ballot. But as far as the 2018 midterms are concerned, there will be no referendum on President Donald J. Trump.