To borrow a metaphor from the world of poker, Team Liberty wasn’t dealt a great set of cards in the November election. But the hand is still playable.
At the national level, the headline will be President Donald Trump being replaced by former Vice President Joe Biden. The Trump administration was a strong ally in reducing federal tax rates, removing destructive federal regulations, promoting worker freedom, and appointing rule-of-law judges to the federal bench.
Before the election, polling and the conventional wisdom strongly suggested that Biden would assume the presidency accompanied by an enlarged Democratic majority in the U.S. House and a new Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate. But Democrats lost most of their majority in the House and failed to win that Senate majority.
With a federal trifecta control of the presidency, Senate, and House, leftists could have achieved their wildest dreams through legislation. Trump tax cuts: repealed. Green New Deal: passed. Medicare for All: done. College debt: cancelled. Fifty-state forced unionism: check. Donor disclosure required: yep.
While President Biden can do some damage around those areas through executive orders, a future administration could repeal them all. A Republican Senate majority, meanwhile, cuts off the legislative path to the transformational threats, at least for the next two years.
It also throws sand in the gears of staffing the top levels of the Biden administration. Republicans have already suggested that they will repay the Democrats for their procedural games in slow-walking President Trump’s cabinet nominees, and several extremist nominees could be rejected altogether.
Closer to home, Republicans will retain majorities in both chambers of the Michigan Legislature. Senators did not stand for reelection last November, and there was no change in the partisan makeup of the House.
Eight of the incoming Michigan House members participated in the Mackinac Center’s Candidate University last June, and we are opening lines of communication and collaboration with them and others before they join the Legislature. So far, we have been impressed by the experience and perspective of the incoming House class.
Two state senators resigned their seats at the end of December after winning elections to county offices. Those seats could remain vacant much of the year, depending on when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer schedules the special elections for their replacements. The effects of those vacancies will more likely be felt at the committee level, where certain policies lose a champion or at least a reliable vote.
The main impact of the Michigan election, though, is the flip of the Michigan Supreme Court. Liberty stalwart Stephen Markman, who was age-limited off the bench, will be replaced by former Michigan League of Conservation Voters President Elizabeth Welch. This will be the first time in many years that the court will have a majority of Democrat-endorsed justices. Expect the court to issue activist rulings in most areas of law and grant broad deference to the executive branch, especially in upcoming cases involving emergency powers.