Jan 192018
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Republicans in Louisiana and around the country are in a celebratory mood this week as they applaud what they see as President Donald Trump’s many successes and look to the future. Ardent supporters call Trump’s America First policy “forceful and transactional” and declare 2017 was the best first year ever for a U.S. president.

Local Republican elected officials including members of the Orleans Parish Republican Executive Committee celebrated at OPREC’s annual fundraiser Thursday night at the American Sector. Former RNC Chairman and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is the special guest at Saturday’s Louisiana Elephant Gala where Congressman Steve Scalise will be honored. Finally, President Trump and First Lady Melania are also celebrating their 13th wedding anniversary this weekend.

Though President Trump’s approval rating hovers at an average of 41 percent in the four polls tracked by analyst Ron Faucheaux, Republicans are pleased with the way America’s 45th president has moved their party’s agenda forward and achieved – or at least taken a significant stab at – many of his campaign promises.

While Democrats cheer that the Affordable Care Act is still providing much-needed health care for millions of Americans, Republicans believe Trump has been far more successful in many of his other top priorities. The stock market has soared as President Trump and the GOP have overhauled taxes and rolled back the 30 years of environmental protections his supporters adamantly fought. Republicans believe Trump’s strong hand overseas against terrorists and increased use of military power has helped crush ISIS. Immigration has significantly slowed and thousands of non-citizens are being sent back home. But issues like DACA, the Mexican wall, and the ability to pass a funding measure to keep government operating, are still haunting the President.

Fresh from victory and voter optimism, a president’s first year can be an opportunity to set an agenda for the following three, especially when the president’s party controls both houses of Congress. With mid-term elections on the horizon, carrying out President Trump’s campaign promises gets harder, especially as several influential Republicans in Congress announce their retirement.

Though Republicans traditionally raise money more easily than Democrats, donors are now flocking to the Democratic Party, especially to help re-elect Democratic senators and build war chests for challenges. “Republican leaders have struggled to recruit top-tier candidates to take on sitting Democrats,” according to USA Today. To become the majority in the U.S. Senate, Democrats need only to capture two seats in the mid-term elections. Controlling the Senate will not necessarily mean legislative success.

Some Republican candidates, but probably not in Louisiana, could also be haunted by ongoing racial controversy around President Trump’s language (such as his recent alleged reference to immigrants from “shithole” countries), which 46 percent of voters do not approve of – according to a poll taken by The Economist on January 14-16, 2018 – and by voter belief (53 percent in the same poll) that President Trump says things that are not correct often or all the time. No matter which political party is in control, bi-partisan support built upon negotiation and compromise is essential to move the country forward.

LOUISIANA WOMEN MARCH AGAIN SATURDAY, JANUARY 20

In what started as a significant but single day event last January 20th and has become a movement, thousands of newly empowered women will march in Washington and in sister anniversary marches around the country to show solidarity for issues they support, for building voter registration and for creating a talent pool of volunteer workers and candidates for future elections. Many marchers are driven by their need to articulate dissatisfaction with President Trump and his policies.

These marches and supporting organizations have provided a different platform for women who in the past might have only quietly grumbled about perceived inequities. The new voices have become a chorus that will not easily be silenced as #MeToo and other related issues move to the forefront. Organizers are also pleased that younger women are stepping up to replace the early-and-now-older feminist leaders. “I’m still committed but I’m tired too. It’s time for the next generation to take charge,” said one activist.

In New Orleans, women will gather at Duncan Plaza beginning at noon Saturday for a rally and downtown march. With Mother Nature’s anticipated cooperation, organizers hope for a boisterous crowd.

Local sponsoring groups agree that last year’s march unleashed a new era of activism and a level of energy that will only grow. With organizations like Emerge Louisiana now recruiting and training candidates for public office, expect to see new faces qualify for the 2019 legislative races. Emerge Louisiana’s first training class is about to begin with 25 women having been selected from 56 applicants.

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Foster Campbell, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. Her current clients include District B City Council candidate Seth Bloom and At-Large City Council candidate Helena Moreno.

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