Thursday, January 5, 2017

For better or worse: a rocky start for the 115th Congress

2016 was certainly a year of double-whammies: logic-defying surprises in which emotions ruled over logic, reason, and even the facts. 

It was, to the Oxford “Word of the Year” judges, a “post-truth” year (see the 11/16/16 post here for more on that). Witness Donald Trump’s constant mantra that the election was rigged against him—certainly this was among the most “post-truthy” double whammies of the election campaign.

Of course, the true double-take in all this is that—according to a solid body of intelligence reports—the election was rigged, but in Trump’s favor instead of the opposite. No one is saying that the Russians stuffed our ballot boxes, but their destabilizing, “post-truthy” hacking influence was palpable during the campaign, and our intelligence communities say it’s clear that they intended to support Trump’s chances and undermine Clinton’s.

Whether Trump purposely coordinated his campaign “rigging” message with Russian cyberhacking efforts remains to be seen (don't hold your breath), but his resistance to available intelligence (especially implications that Russian president Vladimir Putin spearheaded the whole effort) raises serious questions about Trump’s motives. At the very least, it puts him in possible violation of the Logan Act—the “One-President-At-A-Time” Act—that says private citizens are not allowed to carry on foreign relations on behalf of the U.S.

Will Trump be at odds with, or simply ignore, our U.S. intelligence services going forward? His latest claim that “he knows things nobody else knows” about all this is perhaps the most troubling. Did a “little bird tell him?”

The curious way Trump surrogates like Kellyanne Conway simply parrot the line that Trump receives intelligence “from all kinds of sources”  also raises questions. Our intelligence services wield a fair amount of independent power—probably for good reason in light of all this—but if presidents don’t trust the information their intelligence forces dig up, who can (or should) they trust? If Trump doesn’t plan to trust and rely on them, who does he intend to rely on, and why?

If all that hasn’t set our brains reeling, we need to rewind to election night for the Mother of all double whammies that gripped our two major political parties: the Dems were caught uncomfortably numb on Election night because their data said they were winning, when in fact, they were not, while the GOP was stunned because they didn’t expect to win nearly as “bigly” as they did. What looked during that ugly, raucous campaign like a problem tearing the GOP apart, turned that evening into a giddy, Congressional “winner-takes-all” ride on Donald Trump’s coat tails.

Clearly, this wouldn’t have been quite as shocking if the Party and the Candidate didn’t seem like such an “odd couple” during the campaign. Which brings me to the question I’d like to explore astrologically here—what made this odd alliance work the way it did? And, looking forward, how might this unlikely relationship unfold over the short-term? Is it a relationship of convenience or true allegiance? Are we going to find that Trump and the GOP really are soul mates after all, or did the GOP’s time to “crow” just arrive?

Harking back—looking forward

As discussed in more detail in the 3/23/16 post here, the GOP was founded at a meeting that convened in Ripon, Wisconsin on March 20, 1854. As its members like to remind everyone, it is the “Party of Lincoln,” founded a mere 7 years before the nation fell to pieces over the issue of slavery and states’ rights.

In fact, the early Republican party fought against slavery; given the party’s long opposition to even the most fundamental worker rights like collective bargaining and a mandated minimum wage, it’s hard to say where its original compassionate core principles have gone.

Indeed, the party’s “to-do-list” for the 115th Congress, convened on January 3rd, is solidly pro-business, with precious little for workers: repeal Obamacare (that pesky employer mandate has to go!); begin the process of slowly eroding/privatizing Medicaid, Medicare and Veterans’ health care (don’t get me started); roll back progress on the national minimum wage, worker protection regulations wherever they exist (including Civil Service worker protections, to the Dodd-Frank law holding Wall Street banks accountable, and assorted campaign finance laws—the true “pay-to-play” game in town).

The odd thing is, poised to unleash this ambitious legislative tsunami on President Obama’s legacy—not to mention our essential safety net—the GOP decided to make gutting the Office of Congressional Ethics its first order of business on Day 1 of the new Congress. They’re in charge now, right?…like kids set loose in a candy shop, they simply got greedy. 

House Majority Leader Paul Ryan was never in favor of the idea, and Donald Trump tweeted his displeasure (not about their plans, just about the timing).

Long story short, social media, Congressional telephones and news outlets everywhere lit up with outrage over the GOP’s plans, and by noon, the Republican cohort had backed out of the idea. The “optics” were disastrous, making for a very rocky start for the 115th, Republican-dominated Congress. 

With all this in mind, let’s first explore the 115th Congress’s inception chart (set for Washington, D.C.), to see why the candy shop doors slammed on Republicans’ fingers right out of the gate. Will they continue to be held accountable, or was today an anomaly, with smooth-sailing ahead for their agenda? 

This approach might help us glean how serious the GOP’s so-called “mandate” to overhaul public policies and programs really is. Was the party simply the beneficiary of the Trump phenomenon, or were people really voting for a conservative GOP agenda?

Once we’ve examined this chart, we’ll set it against the GOP’s radix (natal) chart for further insight. Has the GOP evolved to be a sustainable entity, or is Trump likely to widen their inner divisions, causing life-changing damage? If the press in the past 24 hours is any indication, they’re in for at least a wake-up call. According to today’s Washington Post opinion page:

“As Carl Hulse points out in the New York Times, nearly two-thirds of House Republicans have never served with a GOP president. McCarthy, elected in 2006, has never experienced unified Republican control. Now Republicans have to switch from reflexive opposition to passing their own laws and being held responsible for the consequences. Turns out they haven’t developed those muscles.”

Chart #1: 115th U.S. Congress-2017, January 3, 2017, 7:27 a.m. ST (sunrise chart), Washington, D.C.

T-Square: 4th house Uranus (Aries) opposes 10th house Jupiter; this axis squares Sun-Pluto rising at the ASC (all Capricorn). This T-square is at the heart of a critical passage in GOP history (note how the configuration ties into the GOP’s radix Jupiter-Chiron in the inner wheel of Triwheel 1 below). In this particular chart, however, Jupiter reflects the power surge the GOP is celebrating—and  overstepping—if we consider their first ill-fated ethics measure, and today’s (1/5) reawakening of an arcane rule (the Holman Rule) that is clearly aimed at disabling protections for the Civil Service sector in the process). This just in:

"House Republicans this week reinstated an arcane procedural rule that enables lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of an individual federal worker — down to a $1 — a move that threatens to upend the 130-year-old civil service.
The Holman Rule, named after an Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876, empowers any member of Congress to offer an amendment to an appropriations bill that targets a specific government employee or program."

The opposition from Uranus only makes Republican actions since January 3rd more shocking and reckless, while the square from Sun-Pluto in Saturnian Capricorn reflects the swift, relentless way their attempt to dismantle the Ethics Office was slapped down and shamed from all sides. The Holman Rule action, on the other hand, was reportedly coordinated with Trump’s plans for radical changes to the federal work force. 

As we're seeing, this Capricorn rising chart will likely support the GOP’s intended corporate-friendly agenda. The Sun-Pluto conjunction speaks to leadership styles—in this case, “Oligarchy,” or government by the privileged few, which makes sense given the “strong man” administration coming into power.

Factoring the Jupiter-Uranus opposition into the mix (10th-4th house) suggests two paths coexist going forward: revolutionary expansion (Jupiter) of such oligarchic power—or alternatively, an opportunity to enthusiastically rebel against (Uranus) such power. Every t-square features an “empty leg”—the Cancer DSC opposite Sun-Pluto in this case—which suggests that the “People” (the Moon rules Cancer) will attempt to counter oligarchy-building efforts. Setting up “the People” as the implied “enemy,” however, isn’t the greatest way to begin a new administration.

On another note, Pluto here exactly opposes the Sibly Sun (13°+Cancer), setting up the Executive Office itself as a potential counter-force. Will Trump and the GOP-dominated Congress get along? The opposition suggests that they can get along, but only if the power Congress exercises benefits his executive power; Trump is not likely to let them forget who’s “boss” (checks and balances be damned!). 

The fact that the GOP retracted their proposal to gut ethics rules shortly after Trump tweet-shamed them seems significant here.

Saturn (Sagittarius) trines Uranus (Aries) and sextiles Jupiter (Libra). Saturn plays an interesting role in this chart, ruling the overall chart and its Capricorn planets (Mercury-Sun-Pluto), but doing so from a somewhat compromised position, in Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius. Mundane astrology often attributes rulership of the Democratic party to Saturn, with Jupiter ruling the GOP—which makes sense: Jupiter avoids regulations and responsibility whenever possible, in its quest to grow and overcome limits; Saturn values structure, regulations and reasonable limits. A healthy balance between these two impulses is optimum for sustainable growth.

Saturn’s 12th house position in this chart certainly speaks to the diminished, almost behind-the-scenes influence of the Dems this time around, whereas Jupiter’s 10th house placement speaks to the GOP’s prominence. The sextile between them here suggests that their relationship may not be quite as adversarial as some politicos are imagining; in fact, the Dems may wield more power (perhaps indirectly) than many expect them to.

Two particular midpoints stand out here: Venus/Jupiter = 25+Sagittarius, and Mercury/Saturn = 26+Sagittarius. Both degrees are within orb of the powerful black hole at the Galactic Center—a point that has repeatedly been associated with unleashing “whistleblower” type revelations and other inconvenient, but timely “reality checks.” The Stock Market meltdown in September 2008 followed after both a Jupiter and a Pluto passage over this point (2007 and 2006-7, respectively).

The planets involved in these midpoints suggest that the revelations could be about grand financial matters and/or rules and legislative matters (as we saw yesterday with the ethics debacle). One predictable focus going forward could be Congress’s handling of Trump’s financial conflicts of interest—ignoring them is certainly not going to make them go away.

Clearly, with the 12th house placement of these midpoints, such reality checks are likely to be drowned out by distractions and contained in one way or another, but other transits at the time may intervene to help the facts break through the Neptunian (12th) fog. Saturn’s trine to Uranus here may also be helpful in this regard.

Venus-South Node-Neptune-Mars-Moon (all Pisces) oppose North Node (Virgo). Clearly, Neptune—empowered in home sign Pisces—will be a force to reckon with in this Congress, which could be troubling on several levels, a point reinforced by the remaining Pisces (Neptune-disposited) points. Financial matters (Venus) are not likely to make logical sense (a problem already seen in the proposed budget outline the GOP released today), and the modus operandi for rationalizing such distortions will probably involve doubling down with more distortion and dissimulation (Mars-Neptune).

To say that the public (Moon) is about to be so confused it won’t know how to respond in its own best interests is probably an understatement. The 3rd house placement of that Pisces Moon suggests that the public will be flooded with media content, a lot of it shot through with emotion, conspiracy-theorizing, and designed to hide what’s really going on. Holding Congress accountable—or even getting a straight story out of them—is going to be a challenge. A conscious use of Saturn (diligence, sticking to the rules, demanding discipline and normative behavior) may be the only antidote for this Neptunian onslaught.

What does this moment represent in GOP history?

Since the evolution of the GOP as a party (and an astrological entity) is the point we’re exploring here, I’ve included the party’s progressed chart in the triwheel below. It’s worth noting from the start that the GOP’s progressed Jupiter has been retrograde since 1911 and it will be 2032 before it stations and turns direct.

This is all the more important if we consider Jupiter the party’s ruling planet, and it may explain why, despite the appearance of great success in election 2016, that they seem far less “together” than you might expect. Jupiter Rx could also mean that the GOP has been, and will continue to be, used and abused by stronger powers-that-be (including Trump, most likely).

I would expect that between now and then, the GOP will need to redefine itself for a whole new life in 2032. That only sounds like a long time from now. Even so, how they choose to exercise the surprising burden of power they’ve been handed this year matters to 325 million people (if not more), so let’s examine the triwheel below for a few more clues.

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) U.S. Republican Party (GOP), March 20, 1854, 12:00 p.m. LMT, Ripon, Wisconsin; (middle wheel) Secondary Progression, January 3, 2017, 12:00 p.m. GMT, August 30, 1854 12:56:47 p.m. GMT, Washington, D.C. (outer wheel) 115th U.S. Congress-2017, January 3, 2017, 7:27 a.m. ST (sunrise chart), Washington, D.C.

GOP Progressed Sun conjoins 115th Node (both Virgo) opposite 115th Venus-So. Node-Neptune (all Pisces). It’s worth pointing out here that the GOP’s radix Sun is at the powerful 29th degree of Pisces, so the party is by nature a quixotic, Neptunian creature. That may explain how it’s been able to morph over the years from the “Party of Lincoln” into something much less recognizable—probably by simply following the tides of time and self-interest.

Here, we see the hand of “destiny” on their shoulders, and again, Neptune plays a prominent role. In fact, we can see here how close the GOP is experiencing an exact Neptune return (first exact hit this coming May) to its radix chart at the same time its progressed Sun is opposed Neptune (now transiting 9°+Pisces). This timing coincides with the planned repeal process for Obamacare, among other health care rollbacks (Medicaid, Medicare)—could it be that Neptune will tug at their collective heart strings and inspire a bit of compassion for those who need health coverage?

Those who are hell-bent on repeal, no matter who gets hurt are likely to proceed (Planned Parenthood appears to be a first casualty on the list), using Neptunian disinformation and media-spinning to mask the damage they will be doing the country. They’ve already settled upon the idea of submerging the ACA’s destruction in a budget bill, which if I understand it correctly, will simply divert the revenues normally allocated for healthcare in different directions, leaving key pieces of the healthcare law to wither from lack of resources.

Neptune avoids responsibility whenever possible, and unfortunately, compassion is one of its higher manifestations—not practiced widely in government these days.

As promised, revenue is likely to be diverted to tax cuts for the rich: the 115th Venus-So.Node conjoins the GOP’s radix Venus and opposes their progressed Sun. The South Node connection here may be seen as a warning—this massive tax cut/diversion is not likely to be viewed as their finest hour.  

Interchart T-square: 115th Jupiter (Libra) opposes 115th Uranus (Aries); both axes square GOP Chiron-Jupiter-GOP Progressed Jupiter-115th Pluto (all Capricorn). This new GOP congressional cohort has been eagerly anticipating the power surge they expect will go along with their dominance of Congress and, with a GOP president, the government in general. This surge (GOP Jupiter-Progressed Jupiter) will likely be reined in with unforeseen, possibly wounding (GOP Chiron) complications here—perhaps a certain amount of party “transformation, death and rebirth” can be expected with Pluto conjoined these points. This certainly accords with Neptune’s return to its radix position in their chart: can they recover their original spirit and mission in this transformative process?

Of course, the GOP’s number one priority (in their heart of hearts) is tax reform that radically reduces taxes on corporations and the wealthy (aka “job creators” in Republican-speak). Capricorn Pluto supports that agenda, certainly, but this t-square may confront the party with consequences over that bias toward the wealthy and “trickle-down” economics.

Trump appears poised to play both sides against the middle—massive handouts to the top economic strata, with photo ops creating the illusion that he’s helping the working class—and the GOP is firmly caught on the horns of that unsustainable illusion. Despite the 115th Congress’s heavy planetary concentrations in Pisces (outer wheel, Triwheel below) and the GOP’s own Pisces Sun, the party will eventually have to answer for the incoherence baked into Trump’s policies.

GOP Progressed Moon (Scorpio) opposes GOP Saturn (Taurus) and trines GOP Sun (Pisces). These aspects certainly reflect the skillful way in which the GOP tapped into the nation’s emotions this past election—their progressed Moon is, in fact, square the Sibly Moon (Aquarius) as well, so the emotional pull is still strong. Fear-mongering (Scorpio) that leads to rash action (Aquarius) is a possible downside here; a bit of soul-searching (Scorpio) about our essential democratic principles (Aquarius) would be a positive use.

Does this mean the GOP enjoys a broad public mandate? Probably not, but their ascendance may catalyze some essential national soul-searching and change going forward.

As for the progressed Moon opposition to GOP Saturn, it seems to reflect that point made by Carl Hulse in the opening here:

“…Now Republicans have to switch from reflexive opposition to passing their own laws and being held responsible for the consequences. Turns out they haven’t developed those muscles.”

The party’s radix Saturn-Jupiter trine (Taurus-Capricorn) is triggered here, as well—if they don’t allow themselves to be torn into pieces under Trump’s lead, they may get to “develop those muscles,” for better or worse. Simply saying “no” to everything the Dems have tried to accomplish has damaged the party’s soul, over time—Trump found them in that weakened position and the rest is history.

Interestingly, the GOP’s progressed Venus (Leo) falls conjunct Trump’s Pluto (chart not shown), which reflects the Hades/Persephone relationship between them in technicolor. In a February post here, I borrowed this myth of abduction to characterize the pitiful state of American politics in general, but this correlation between Trump and the GOP suggests another way in which the analogy applies.

Simply put, Trump has “abducted” the GOP for what looks to be a “strong-man” power grab that’s worthy of mythical Hades; for the GOP’s part, the lure of all-encompassing power was intoxicating for Persephone—at once, victim and queen. Will it continue to be the "win-win situation" both sides are enjoying for now?

Stay tuned--it will be interesting to see if the GOP feels victorious for long. Those senators who are flying in the face of Trump’s support for Russian president Putin by holding hearings about the hacking issue, deserve a lot of credit for maintaining their party’s self-respect.

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at:

© Raye Robertson 2017. All rights reserved.