The political landscape for the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate elections of 2018 and 2020 and the presidential election of 2020 has now been irrevocably changed.
The nation was focused this past week on the insensitivity of the manner in which the Trump White House handled the spousal abuse allegations against Rob Porter and David Sorensen. Previously, the media had reported numerous credible allegations of sexual predatory activity on the part of Donald Trump himself. All this has created the indelible belief on the part of the vast majority of American women voters that the president is an unabashed misogynist. The failure of the entire GOP House and Senate leadership to repudiate Trump misogyny in any way makes them complicit in it.
The Republican Party will pay a huge price for Trump’s contemptible treatment of women in the 2018 and 2020 elections. It is not yet clear how the Mueller probe will affect these campaigns. Yet it is beyond doubt that millions of American women, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, will go to the polls and vote for the Democratic Congressional and Presidential candidates.
These women voters will thus be delivering to the national Republican Party a simple message: Misogyny on the part of the President of the United States, supported by the silent complicity of the GOP, cannot be tolerated. Trump misogyny will thus certainly result in the election of a Democratic – controlled House of Representatives in 2018, a Democratic president in 2020, and a Democratic-controlled Senate no later than 2020.
For center-right Republicans like myself, who venerate the traditions of Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, the ascension to power of a misogynist, bigoted, and xenophobic president like Donald Trump is a genuine tragedy. Yet we are not without hope. A brand new Republican national voice of conscience has emerged right here in the State of New Jersey, repudiating all the despicable evils of Trumpism. That person is none other than Congressman Leonard Lance.
Since the onset of the Trump administration, Lance has appeared on a number of television interview talk shows, particularly on MSNBC in which he has stated fundamental disagreement with the president on taxation and budgetary policies. The most significant of all these interviews, however, was his appearance this past Sunday on the Alex Witt show.
In his Witt appearance, Lance was highly critical of Trump’s handling of the allegations of spousal abuse against Rob Porter and David Sorensen. He took issue with both the substance and the style of Trump’s Twitter defense of these two aides and asked the president to condemn unequivocally their domestic abuse.
I have not heard a single Republican Representative or Senator other than Lance so sharply criticize Trump for his handling of the Porter/ Sorensen matters. In doing so, Lance displayed his unique ability to criticize forcefully and emphatically, yet without losing his civility and diplomatic and respectful style.
Indeed, the Lance style is a product of his two most significant and politically attractive attributes: Independence and erudition.
Having served in both the Christie Whitman gubernatorial administration in New Jersey and the presidential administration of George W. Bush, I am very aware of the occasions where Leonard Lance opposed a position of a Republican administration. While he and I were in obvious disagreement, we were able to disagree without being disagreeable. The Lance style enhanced the admiration one would have for his independence.
The Lance erudition is indeed unsurpassed by any other contemporary New Jersey political figure. His storehouse of knowledge in the areas of history, contemporary issues, and political philosophy is a tribute to three factors: 1) his late father, Wesley Lance, a former New Jersey State Senate President and a major player in the drafting and adoption of the 1947 state constitution; 2) his extensive education both as a lawyer and political scholar; and 3) his unique analytical ability regarding complex issues.
Full disclosure: I have always had a friendly, although not close, relationship with Leonard Lance. He and I share something in common: We are both aficionados of American history. On virtually every occasion we have conversed over the past decade, we have had a pleasant short discussion of some relatively unknown aspect of American history. If Leonard and I were ever on the same two-person team in an American history contest, we doubtless would win. I would bet three 1940 Willkie-McNary campaign buttons on that.
Lance has always maintained a major erudition gap over all his primary and general election opponents in his New Jersey 7th Congressional District campaigns. The Democrats are well aware of this, and accordingly, they are in growing numbers supporting Tom Malinowski, a former Rhodes scholar and Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama administration. His stepfather was the late Blair Clark, a former CBS news executive, editor of Nation magazine, and national manager of the 1968 presidential campaign of Eugene McCarthy.
Malinowski will certainly be able to establish himself as a figure of erudition. In no way, however, will he match Lance in terms of political independence.
The key case in point is Malinowski’s relationship with George Soros, a most malign leftward influence within the Democratic Party. During the last three years of Malinowski’s tenure as the Washington Director of Human Rights Watch, Soros served as a major financial backer of the organization.
While Lance has time and again effectively distanced himself from Trump, I have yet to read of any repudiation of Soros by Malinowski. This is particularly relevant in view of the virulent opposition of Soros to the State of Israel, an issue of major significance to New Jersey. Lance has been a reliable and strong supporter of the American-Israel alliance. The continued silence of Malinowski on Soros will only increase Lance’s advantages on this issue.
Lance has never avoided meeting with his constituents. This is most significant in bolstering the credibility of his repudiation of Trump. A wave election is in the making for 2018, which will sweep away Republican members of Congress in its wake. Thanks to the political sagacity and issue incisiveness of Leonard Lance, the likelihood of his reelection continues to increase.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman