Political Winners and Losers of 2017

by John English

Hey, there’s never enough of these year-in-review posts, right? Here’s a look at the winners & losers in politics in 2017.


WINNER: Donald Trump – He didn’t get impeached, his fans are still as loyal as ever, and he actually accomplished a lot of what he wanted to. He helped get a big tax deal through that will add an estimated billion dollars to his net worth, he nominated a Supreme Court justice that conservatives will applaud for the next 25 years, and he got rid of a lot of the regulations he’d vowed to remove. Buried within the tax bill was the removal of the individual mandate, so technically kind of he can claim he struck a blow against Obamacare.

LOSER: Donald Trump – He had the lowest approval rating of any first year of a president since polling began. He’s had the highest White House staff turnover in his first year since Gerald Ford. His tweets are a constant reminder that he’s a petty, volatile man. He’s reduced America’s stature in the world. He’s alienated our allies and embolded tyrants. In the year of #MeToo he still insists his dozen or so accusers are all lying. He threw his full support behind alleged child molester Roy Moore. His constant dishonesty makes it so that one can never really if he’s saying something truthful. He keeps shooting himself in the foot, from firing James Comey to equivocating both sides after a white supremacist killed a young woman in Charlottesville.

WINNER: The Democratic Party – After the shocking defeat in 2016, they’ve rebounded nicely. They’re on course to take back the House in 2018. They got a Democratic senator elected in the deep red state of Alabama, and they surfed the sea change in Virginia.

LOSER: The Democratic Party – Twenty years of hypocrisy on sexual assault has finally caught up to them. After giving Bill Clinton a pass in the 1990’s for Lewinsky, Brodderick, Willey, and Jones, big-time Democratic donor Harvey Weinstein was taken down, and now many have gone down in his wake. Al Franken and John Conyers were forced to resign. Now, after there is clearly no more political capital in the Clinton brand, Kirsten Gillibrand and then others have condemned him, which should make the 2020 Presidential Convention awkward.

WINNER: The media – Profits are up for the New York Times and the Washington Post. Fox News and MSNBC are having their best non-election-year ratings in a long time. People are consuming more news than ever before. Real reporting is uncovering stories like the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, the slave trade in Libya, Obama’s leniency on Hezbollah, the Trump campaign playing more footsy with Russia than originally believed, and of course, the work Ronan Farrow put in to finally bring Harvey Weinstein down.

LOSER: The media – The ubiquitous bestowal of “fake news” to every story people don’t like has reduced credibility in the media in general. Fake news used to mean “Hillary Has Alien Lovechild” or the Pizzagate story. Now it’s any mistake reporters make, or any alternative fact people don’t like. And there have been some egregious errors. ABC’s Brian Ross was suspended for a month after his false reporting; CNN had to let three of their reporters go. Too many reporters have grandstanded so they can be seen “on the right side of history.” (Looking squarely at you, Jim Acosta!) And too many opinion hosts, especially on the right, have trashed their credibility to provide the dopamine rushes of a shared worldview with whoever their viewers are. (Looking squarely at you, Most of Fox News!) And let’s also not forget how many media giants were brought down. Matt Lauer. Bill O’Reilly. Charlie Rose. NBC’s Mark Halperin. NPR’s David Sweeney and Michael Oreskas. Vox’s Lockhart Steele. And so on.

WINNER: Nikki Haley – She’s done the best job of anyone in Trump’s Administration to have her stature grow instead of shrink. She’s been a solid voice for the U.S. at the U.N., and should she resign in 2018, she’ll be the frontrunner to challenge Trump in a 2020 primary. If she wants to.

LOSER: Just about everyone else around Trump – Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn are in legal jeopardy. Tom Price was forced to resign. Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer find themselves unemployed with shattered reputations. Rumors of Rex Tillerson’s demise won’t go away. Jeff Sessions was trashed by Trump regularly.

WINNER: Joe Trippi – The veteran Democratic strategist guided Doug Jones to the almost impossible, a Senate seat in Alabama.

LOSER: Steve Bannon – The former “White House Chief Strategist” only lasted a few months. He tried to portray himself as a king-maker on the outside, but his embrace of Roy Moore left him with egg on his face.


WINNER: John Curtis – The Provo mayor easily won the election to take Jason Chaffetz’s old seat in the 3rd district.

LOSER: Jason Chaffetz – Everything he did in 2016 seemed to be setting himself up to be Hillary Clinton’s Javert in 2017. But she lost. And suddenly people wanted him to investigate Trump. He lost his love for the job and quit a few months into his fifth term. Now he provides innocuous political commentary on Fox News.

WINNER: SB54 – Specifically the compromise that made Count My Vote go away allowed John Curtis to take the signature route in the GOP primary since the Utah Republicans voted to change the threshold to 50% +1 at the convention to get their nomination in special elections. When delegates chose a different nominee, primary voters chose Curtis.

LOSER: The Caucus System – The GOP delegates chose Chris Herrod to take on the signature candidates John Curtis and Tanner Ainge, seemingly disregarding how polarizing a candidate he was. Had they selected someone a little more palatable like Deidre Henderson or Margaret Dayton, they would have been able to claim victory. Instead, it made them look out of touch again. And now CMV is coming back because the party’s suing to shoot down SB54 as unconstitutional.

WINNER: Mitt Romney – Not only has his reputation gone through a remorseful renaissance from a penitent press who made him out to be a ruthless monster in 2012 but in order to become Utah’s next senator, all he has to do is run.

LOSER: Orrin Hatch – His sycophantic embrace of Trump has been embarrassing, and his decision to go back on his promise – again — to make this term his last just makes the 83-year-old senator look like he’s bitterly clinging to power. 75% of Utahns don’t want him to run again.

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