ELECTION 2018: Future bleak without change, top Democrat says

Nov 01, 2018

Orangeburg Rep. Gilda-Cobb Hunter says a Democratic takeover of at least the U.S. House is necessary to restore the system of checks and balances in the U.S. government. (Photo special to The Panther)

Failure of the Democrats to take control of at least one house of Congress on Nov. 6 will mean no checks on President Donald Trump and Republicans, a top Democratic official said.

Orangeburg Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a longtime member of the Democratic National Committee, said damage done under the Trump presidency will become worse. The impact will be felt for decades.

“You are going to bear the burden of what is happening now,” she told Panther reporters at an Oct. 18 news conference, urging students to imagine what the America of 2050 is going to look like if the present path is followed.

“The problems we are creating now are going to come home to roost,” she said. “You’re going to deal with the America we have now and in the future.”

Look at the next couple of generations. “The same fights we have fought will have to be refought,” she said with particular reference to African-Americans and the civil rights movement.

Trump and Republicans have no checks in a U.S. system founded on a governmental checks and balances, Cobb-Hunter said. The GOP controls the presidency, Congress and increasingly the judiciary.

“What we have now is no checks and balances,” Cobb-Hunter said.

The real impact will come in decades. She cited the environment as an example, with the Trump administration and GOP determined to roll back regulations.

“If Congress does not flip, you will be dealing with decisions being made by the court,” Cobb-Hunter said regarding Trump’s appointments to the federal judiciary and Supreme Court. The president and the Senate have now ensured with appointments to the nation’s highest court that Trump will be protected.

The confirmation of Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the high court was a “travesty,” she said. The nation now has a sexual predator in the White House and two on the Supreme Court.

While winning a Senate majority on Nov. 6 is a long shot, achieving control of the House appears within reach, Cobb-Hunter said.  “I hope they will start undoing some of the things the Trump administration has done.”

But she worries the election outcome may not be as favorable to Democrats as many think.

“I’m pretty nervous about the midterm elections because I feel as though Democrats didn’t do a good enough job,” Cobb-Hunter said. “We’re majoring in a minor and we don’t focus on what’s important.”

Democrats do not have a strong enough message, she said. The party and its candidates need to focus on a message that supports infrastructure improvement, health care and well-paying jobs.

Impeachment of Trump is not a winning issue, she said. But that does not mean there should be no focus directly on Trump by a Democratic-controlled House.

“We need to do some investigations,” Cobb-Hunter said. The president potentially has violated a number of laws ensuring the integrity of the presidency.

“He’s making money off being president of the United States,” she said. “He’s like a little baby seeing how much he can get away with.”

Democrats also should not reject allies such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose recent visit to South Carolina was opposed by some ahead of the November vote. They fear his views are too liberal for South Carolina, where Democrats are trying to attract independent voters.

“Democrats should welcome Sanders,” Cobb-Hunter said.

In the past, Democrats have given up on the South, assuming that white votes for Republicans will make winning there impossible, she said. “We have not done a good job of messaging.”

She favors the 50-state strategy that produced a Democratic takeover of the U.S. House in 2006. That momentum was not maintained as the GOP took back the House in 2010.

“You cannot overlook the South.”

The media are in part to blame for giving the nation Trump as president, she said. He was “touted as some kind of entertainment” with reporting focusing on how he could not win.

Cobb-Hunter said she thought Trump could win.

The year 2008 was pivotal with the election of the first African-American president, she said.

The Republicans plotted from the beginning of the Obama presidency ways to make him fail. “Some whites still cannot believe Obama was elected – twice.”

Trump came along and took advantage of the Obama backlash. “Donald Trump has given license to hate.”

Trump has done major damage to America. She cited an example as Trump’s willingness to defend the Saudis in the death of a Washington Post journalist in the Saudi embassy in Turkey.

“The U.S. used to be looked at as a moral authority,” she said. “There is blood on our hands.”

“All the principles that we stood for are out the window.”

Yet Trump is not the problem, Cobb-Hunter said. He is a symptom of the problem, capitalizing on white fear of becoming the U.S. minority.

“There is a reason America has turned its back on diversity,” she said. There is an underlying and overt stand that there are “too many people of color now.”

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