GOP expands Senate hold; Dems grab House – to legislate or litigate? Will they choose to legislate or litigate
Our country has been emotionally divided for a couple years.
Tuesday’s election results took the division to a more official level, with Republicans increasing their majority in the United States Senate and Democrats taking over control of the House of Representatives.
The practical result of the election will not be known until, first and foremost, the new Democrat majority in the House decides how it wants to conduct business. They can choose to legislate. Or they can choose to litigate.
There is a large anti-President Trump chorus that wants Democrat House leadership to spend the next two years investigating everything from how he won the election to his taxes to his businesses and associates to Russian collusion, hopefully leading to impeachment, even though there already has been a special counsel investigation for more than a year turning up nothing of real significance.
The other course would be to use their majority – garnered in part through redistricting of the Pennsylvania congressional map – to get concessions out of Trump, who has Democrat roots, on matters such as infrastructure improvements, prescription drug costs and immigration and health care reform. Trump has wanted all those things and his proposals, some of them centered on things Democrats have previously wanted, have been thwarted.
We understand the temptation to do battle with Trump. He brings much of it on with his temperament. But regular Americans want problems solved. They don’t want food fights. Russian collusion barely registered when citizens were asked what issues were ruling their vote in the midterm elections.
Democrats have been whining for two years about being left out of the process. Now they have one of the power levers. Are they going to lead or obstruct?
If they choose to obstruct, they will likely find themselves back in the minority in two years, when all those newly-elected congressmen will be going up against stiff opponents and a presidential turnout for Trump. And with the GOP Senate majority now larger, any impeachment move would almost certainly be blocked in the Senate.
The better course? Start with some honesty. A total of 55 of these Democrat representatives are on record saying they would not vote for the combative, ultraliberal Nancy Pelosi to be House Speaker. Was that just rhetoric to get elected or did they mean it?
A wise change would be to move Democrats toward the future by electing a moderate – in tone and agenda – like Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan to be the next Speaker. It would be good for Democrats if they want to actually govern rather than resist. More vitally, it would be good for the country.
If Democrats want to see how Americans feel about their resist movement, they need only look at the Senate. Every Democrat Senator in a legitimate race who voted against appointment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh following over-the-top accusations engineered by Democrats lost. The lone Democrat Senator who voted for Kavanaugh, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, narrowly held on to his seat.
Americans want checks and balances. They said so Tuesday.
But they don’t want irrational resistance that leads to gridlock. They want problems solved.
That takes all power centers of government leading and compromising. Democrats now hold one of the leadership handles. How will they choose to use it?