Investigate And Legislate

A lot of attention is being paid – in my opinion somewhat prematurely – to what the House Democrats are going to do with their new found power in the 116th Congress come January 3rd. First off, we have to get there and that will be anything but a smooth journey. When we inevitably do I feel they will have to simultaneously navigate two separate highways. Let’s explore.

The basic game plan is to investigate while also legislating. Politically the beauty of this game plan is that neither has to be ultimately successful in order for it to help elect Democrats in 2020 including the next President of the United States.

Most Americans, certainly including progressives, want investigations of Donald Trump and his fellow swamp creatures. Americans hate hypocrisy and their money being stolen. Public opinion will have to move considerably before impeachment is actually a political winner. It will have to move even more before enough (probably 20) Republican Senators would vote to remove Trump from office. Keep in mind that outcome would be far from a bowl of cherries because as things currently stand that would give us President Mike Pence. However if Democrats fail to launch investigations they will have betrayed many of their 2018 supporters (as well as their constitutional duty) and invite a low voter turnout in 2020.

One of the reasons for the Democrats’ success in 2018 is that they didn’t fall into the trap of just being anti-Trump. Their voters took that as a given and nothing more than a sentence or two in a stump speech was needed on that topic. Democrats have to actually stand for things and show that they worked toward those goals. That means the House will have to pass legislation that protects the interests of Joe Lunchbucket and perhaps more importantly Jane Lunchbucket. Jane votes too and she is more likely to volunteer to be one of the much needed ground troops in 2020.

Now my political cynic/realist readers are saying, the House Democrats can pass all the legislation they want but Mitch McConnell will stop it in the Senate and Trump will never sign it if somehow Mitch fails. McConnell is a master of the Senate and the most talented obstructer we have ever seen. (Doubt me? I offer Neil Gorsuch as evidence and rest my case.) From a political standpoint the beauty of this part of the game plan is that all the Democrats have to do is get legislation out of the House. If Mitch never puts it on the floor (the most likely scenario) he and the Republicans are the bad guys in the public’s mind if the Democrats effectively disseminate that information during the 2020 campaign. If Mitch allows it onto the Senate floor and his Republicans vote it down then they are on record as doing so. Remember the map and numbers favor the Senate Democrats in 2020 with the Republicans defending 21 seats to only 12 for the Democrats. One of the few things Mitch cares about is the Republican Senate majority, therefore I see him protecting his people by not putting them on record as opposing legislation the public favors.

Until the inevitable McConnell-Trump fallout occurs I don’t think the veto will come into play. In the course of protecting his caucus I don’t think Mitch will let bills he doesn’t want to pass on the Senate floor in the first place. Even after the fallout. McConnell will care much more for his Senators and himself than he will want to hang Trump; he can do that simply by removing him from office in an impeachment proceeding letting himself and his (mainly) boys look like heroes and patriots in the process. Remember in the final analysis Trump needs McConnell much more than McConnell needs Trump.

So the keyword for House Democrats in the 116th Congress is multitasking. Maybe it’s a good thing we elected all those women. (Sorry guys, myself included in the criticism; generally speaking I think women are much more talented at multitasking.)

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