Anyone with a connection to the news for the last five years knows that whether you love him or hate him, Donald Trump is a divisive political figure. His base loves him and his enemies hate him. Both of these extremes have manifested themselves in a culture war that seems to place the fate of America’s future in the balance. While Donald Trump might be the conservative culture warrior many Americans want, Republicans need to begin looking at their long-term political prospects. Primarily, conservative Republicans need to remember that Trump will not be President of the United States forever, regardless of what happens this November.
That being said, Republicans still have a tool to fight when Trump is inevitably out of office: The Senate. Currently, Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate with two independents joining the Democrats. This November, there are 35 total seats up for grabs with 23 Republican and 12 Democratic incumbents. These elections include Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R) seat in Kentucky as well as a toss-up race in Maine for moderate Susan Collins (R) and a battleground state standoff in North Carolina with Thom Tillis (R). One vulnerable seat that Republicans have a good chance of flipping is Doug Jones’s (D) seat in Alabama that he won in a special election against Roy Moore to fill the seat left behind by Jeff Sessions after being appointed Attorney General. More Republican Senators for the next 6 years means a greater defense from a Democratic House or possible President. Thus, the long-term importance of winning competitive Senate races and picking up additional seats this November far exceeds the Republican need to keep Trump in office for four more years.
Why is this so? Because the Senate provides a bulwark against bad Democratic policy that can last longer than a President. If Trump wins again and the Republicans hold the Senate, that is great; however, in the possible existence of a future where Trump loses to Biden, it is crucial that the Republicans hold a majority in the Senate for a multitude of reasons. First, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans can hold up and stop activist legislation from ever reaching the President’s desk, which is of primary importance to maintain liberty in the wake of calls to defund the police and mob violence sweeping across major American cities, the latest in Portland.
The next, and possibly most influential, role of the Senate that demands it remain Republican is the issue of confirming judges to Federal Courts. Since McConnell took control as Majority Leader of the Senate in 2015, he has appointed some 200 judges to federal benches across the country, including two Supreme Court Justices, and is reinforcing originalist constitutionality across Federal Circuit Courts and the Supreme Court for a generation to come. This will likely mean religious liberty, free speech, and rights preserved in the Constitution will remain intact as cases are appealed and adjudicated.
Another role the Senate plays that is vital to a healthy Republic is trying the impeachment of a President. Now while the country has only recently adjourned its latest impeachment trial five months ago, there is a very real possibility that Trump or another future Republican president could be hauled back into impeachment proceedings as the Democratic party shifts farther left. A Republican Senate provides a foil to the activist Democrats in the House of Representatives who would otherwise intimidate their way to removing a President they do not like on partisan charges.
Lastly, it is important to remember that there are some aspects of Donald Trump’s politics that are not conservative in the slightest. Most notable of all his more liberal stances is that he runs an enormous budget deficit as he spends trillions of dollars and refuses to cut entitlements from the ever-expanding federal budget. While Trump might not prioritize a spending decrease, Republicans, at least in principle, do. Lowering the annual budget and overall debt of the United States is critical to maintain power in the world. If spending and annual deficits are not cut in the near future, it will not matter if Trump is in office because the country’s economy will implode and the nation will not be able to afford even the hundreds of billions of entitlements already offered now.
In the end, then, it is important to look at this November’s election not just as the fate of Donald Trump’s tenure as President of the United States, but more importantly as the longer-term future of a conservative presence in American politics. As much as Republicans think we might need Donald Trump, we need a strong, conservative Senate majority more.
Jack Chambers is a student at Elon University in North Carolina studying political science and journalism. He enjoys talking about politics with friends, cooking, and traveling.