Nancy Pelosi will rightfully go down as one of the greatest speakers in the history of the U.S. House. I'm not sure I would agree with Pelosi on a single policy issue; that's not the point. As far as leadership ability and political smarts, Pelosi ran circles around the bumbling Republicans of her time. She got things done for the left in a way no recent Republican leader could for the right. When the stakes were highest, she was able to corral her votes. Simultaneously, when the far left went too far, she was willing to slap them down. There's a name for all this. It's called leadership. Republicans are desperate for a leader like this in the House.

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The lessons from this election cycle are the same as the lessons from all election cycles: Good candidates matter, especially so for Republicans who are not playing on an even field. Conservatives can go with any competent candidate they like in deeply red states and districts. From my perspective, I'd like them to go with the most conservative candidate possible in those places. Politicians from deeply conservative places should challenge a system that's clearly in need of reform.

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The latest data seems to show voters may be breaking for Republicans in next week's midterm elections. That's good news for them in the short term. In the bigger picture, if that happens, everyone better buckle up. The left and their media and tech partners are going to have a fit.

If Democrats lose broadly in the election, their first move should be to look inward. Their policy choices have contributed to historically high and destructive inflation. By showering the country with too much COVID relief spending and pressuring the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates too low for too long, they helped drive up prices across the board. Their anti-fossil fuel agenda also helped push up energy prices. These choices hit every American budget. Certainly, there were factors at play out of any politician's control, but major glaring policy mistakes played a part. Voters know it, and they seem eager to make the perpetrators pay a political price.

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If forced to pick one main reason the Democrats are going to get routed in a month, I'd go with their crazy energy policies. In no other area is the link between their radical policies and people's real lives as directly connected and easy to understand.

Crime is close, but the crime boom is mostly happening in deeply blue cities. Law-abiding members of these communities are certainly rethinking politics. Many of them are minorities. Many Hispanic, Asian and Black Americans are repulsed by much of the university-driven radical woke agenda being pushed on them in democratic cities. They see the results daily. Their pushback in places like San Francisco and Seattle offers reason for hope for normal people everywhere, but it will take time and won't move the needle in a huge way this election cycle.

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The bad news for America keeps coming in, fast and heavy. The current and future challenges are lining up at a truly unprecedented rate. To say they look scary would be a huge understatement. America's future is on the line. Unless the country starts healing, that future looks bleak.

In the near term, on the economic front alone, there is inflation, recession and the potential for the dreaded stagflation of the 1970s (continued inflation coupled with unemployment/recession). On top of this is an energy security crisis with the potential for supply shortages and even blackouts, almost all self-inflicted and driven by an overaggressive transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy before the technology was ready. On immigration, America's border problem has grown to a full-blown crisis with millions of people flowing across annually (the U.S. government has no idea how many million). In addition to migrants, those crossing the border include dangerous people and drug smugglers illegally importing deadly drugs like fentanyl that are ravaging American communities. As if all of that were not enough, on the national security front, for the first time in history, an official nuclear power state is openly threatening nuclear war.

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What's been happening at America's southern border is so crazy and so out of control that it's almost hard to comprehend. As with all national issues, the power of the corporate media to set the narrative for the massive (but shrinking) number of Americans who still rely on them exclusively to stay informed has also played a role. The media is not interested in the border story. Sure, they cover it when they absolutely must, but they have been downplaying the catastrophe from the start. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are changing all that. They are creating a story that even the corporate media can't ignore. In the process, Americans are being forced, for the first time, to confront the reality of the tragedy on America' southern border.

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What's gotten better in America since Joe Biden took office? It's hard to come up with a list. The economy is in tatters. Inflation is booming. Food and energy prices are out of control. The poorest Americans are hurting more than they have in years. With an increasingly belligerent China and Russia joining forces, America's national security looks more precarious than it has in decades. In the face of this record, the Biden team has gone low. With no record to run on, Biden's advisers knew they had to flip the narrative. The new strategy is clear: Gin up your own base, and vilify your opponents.

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The accelerating pace at which the U.S. is falling apart is matched only by the increasing hope among those in power that all will be solved if they just get Donald Trump out of the way. That, of course, is wishful thinking of the highest order. More than half a decade after Trump first came down the escalator, those running nearly every institution in America still don't realize that he is a symptom of what's going on in the country -- not the cause. Even more damaging, those in power have lost confidence that the political system will get rid of Trump, so they are now resorting to brute force. And now the criticism is not just of Trump or of those who stormed the Capitol and deserve it, but of all Trump's voters as well. Upping the ante like they have has taken a country on edge and moved it that much closer to catastrophe. If there are any cool heads left in American leadership, it's time for them to step up.

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One of the biggest reasons American politics have turned upside down over the past few years is growing numbers of Americans do not think leaders represent their interests. That simple sentiment underlies nearly every recent problem in American politics. Yet for some reason, almost nobody has engaged in the process of figuring out how this happened and how to fix it.

It's hard to trust elected representatives if you think they are in it to line their own pockets. Voters also don't trust politicians who seem to prioritize foreign interests or special interests over their own well-being. Those are precisely the sentiments many voters feel today.

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From the moment Donald Trump came down the escalator to formally step onto the political stage, America's leading establishment figures have misjudged what was happening. Most still refuse to think deeply about what drove such massive popularity for Trump. Some of it was his focus on issues, such as extended wars in the Middle East and a lack of border security, where there was a growing chasm between voters' desires and politicians' priorities. The biggest part, though, was a growing mistrust felt by many Americans for their political leaders altogether. There are still so many open questions about the FBI's raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago home this week, but one thing for sure is it reinforced the feeling many Americans have that the system is rigged. The Biden Justice Department, in other words, just reinforced the sentiment that brought Trump to power in the first place.

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The saddest part of the complete breakdown of trust in America is how little its leaders seem to care. There's been a lot written about the trust freefall. People haven't trusted politicians for years (U.S. Congress: 18% approval), but now even formerly highly trusted institutions like the church (now at 31% confidence) and the U.S. military (trust down 25% since 2018) are in a trust freefall. You may expect national leaders to be racking their brains on how to rebuild this trust, yet there is no sign of that. Instead, the attitude seems to be "what the hell is wrong with the American people?" Leaders bemoan the rise of populism yet refuse to give even the briefest thought to its root causes.

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Every reasonably honest observer knows the corporate media has a liberal bias. That bias is displayed more often in the topics they choose to emphasize than in outright misinformation. We all know the major narratives that the media is trying to drive home. There is none bigger than the idea that Republicans have become extreme, out of the mainstream and even dangerous. There is certainly some craziness on the American right, but it's misinformation of the highest order to pretend the eccentricities of the right even approach the outright radicalism the left is mainstreaming today. That's the big lie the media is trying to pull off. It's not working.

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Most politicians and activists have strong views on every political issue. Those views grow from their fundamental political philosophies and beliefs. The best politicians know how to balance their political ideals with a keen watch on how they affect the lives of everyday Americans -- those who voted them into office. Go too far with your ideological preferences in the face of evidence that it's hurting the American people, and you will not go far in politics.        The Democratic Party seems poised to take a beating for forgetting this fundamental maxim when it comes to energy and climate change. They feel so strongly about the issue that many have lost touch with reality. They have entered a sort of make-believe world. The coming election is going to bring them back to reality.

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The real problem for the Democratic Party is not President Joe Biden. He's a huge problem, of course, but their real problems run much deeper. The Democrats have an unmanageable coalition and are unable to cobble it together into anything even semicoherent. If Republican leaders were attuned to this dynamic, they could dominate like perhaps never before, but they have failed to do so.

Biden has been a historically terrible president. Biden was not the first choice for many Democratic primary voters. Democrats turned to him mainly because he seemed like the least risky candidate to run against Donald Trump. He was clearly past his prime, but he was the low-risk alternative with lots of governing experience. The dominant left-wing activist wing of the party had other favorites, but they went along because their fear of a second Trump term outweighed any other consideration.

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It's hard not to worry about America's future these days. Warning signs are everywhere. Trust in institutions is at all-time lows. Inflation is out of control. The nation's long-term finances are in shambles. People are at each other's throats. Drug overdoses are booming. Suicide is booming. Growing elements on both the left and the right are convinced the political system is broken beyond repair. Disturbing numbers of Americans are willing to resort to political violence. The country is in crisis.

You have to be willfully blind not to notice the signs, yet there has been very little effort to promote national healing. That's the saddest part. Either nobody cares anymore or people are resigned to the inevitability of an American crash.

America is not perfect; it never has been. But measured by historic standards or comparative world standards, America is an amazing place. Saving it is a worthy cause. Unless more people start taking up that cause quickly, things may slip beyond a breaking point.

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It's almost impossible to think of anything as horrifying as a group of innocent young kids gunned down by a madman in their classroom. Just imagining the terror those kids faced is enough to break even the hardest of hearts. That's the horror America is wrestling with today. What to do about it is a harder question.

Many turn immediately to gun control. The problem is there are few if any gun control measures that would likely help very much. America already has more guns than people. Someone who wants one will find one. New laws will not deter those already committed to breaking the law.

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