We can breathe. For the first time in two years, we can breathe.
That’s the takeaway for Democrats and liberals. No, it wasn’t a wave. No, Beto didn’t win—but man did he jump-start a potential revolution in Texas politics, and even in defeat his name will now be on the 2020 lists, as it should be. No, the Democrats didn’t take the Senate. So nobody is really popping Dom Perignon (maybe not even Nancy Pelosi, more on which later).
But look. Taking the House back is huge. It’s a game-changer. People were getting their hopes up pretty unrealistically in the last few days. The polls were tempting people toward really high expectations. So they weren’t all met. But think back: A few months ago, Democrats would have been thrilled to take back only the House and win several important governors’ races. And that’s what they did.
You know what taking back the House means. Democrats will hold the committee gavels. Bye-bye, Devin Nunes at the intelligence committee. Hello, Adam Schiff. So long, Bob Goodlatte at Judiciary. Welcome, Jerry Nadler. Sayonara, Kevin Brady of Ways and Means. Hand the gavel to Richard Neal of Massachusetts, who told the media before it was even official that the Democrats would capture the majority that he is going to seek to get President Trump’s tax returns. Financial Services is going to Maxine Waters! I guess Trump’s about to find out what her IQ really is.
There are so many others. No point in naming them all. But if you feel like it, just go down a list of committees and subcommittees and paint the picture in your mind. Every single committee now with jurisdiction over Ben Carson, over Betsy DeVos, over Ryan Zinke, over Wilbur Ross, over you name it. Administration figures are going to be hauled up there on a weekly basis. And not just on corruption, but on policy, too. How did Trump come to pull out of the Paris climate accord? How did they devise the family separation policy at the border? Finally, someone, or a lot of someones, is going to have to answer some questions.
And, of course, the Democratic takeover now means Robert Mueller has protection. Mr. President, you want to fire him? Okay. The House Democrats can hire him. There’s no getting in Mueller’s way now. There will be no more hearings where Jim Jordan can grandstand sanctimoniously. I mean, he’ll get to do it for the two minutes he has the microphone, but there will be no more smear-Mueller hearings. No dishonest reports. That’s done.
Keep an eye on Nadler. No, not for impeachment. Let’s not start clamoring about impeachment. First, show the American people how corrupt this president, this family, this administration is. That hard work will lay the groundwork for potential impeachment, but realistically, impeachment is a pipe dream. Some 18 or so Republican senators would have to vote to convict. So don’t think about impeachment. Think about exposing their corruption. Nadler is smart and I think will know just how to handle it.
Legislation? Secondary. Nothing the House passes will be considered by the Senate or signed by the president anyway. They can pass some things to signal to the country their priorities, which should and will include voting rights and reform, minimum wage and other legislation for working people, and more on the economy.
But first, they have to figure out if they’re sticking with Pelosi. You heard me. A month or so ago as I talked with some House Democrats and aides about this, their general feeling was that given the number of Democrats who campaigned vowing not to vote for her for speaker, she would need a cushion of around 235 or 240 Democratic members to be totally safe. As I write, MSNBC projects 231 Democrats. She might be able to stave off a revolt by promising that she’s out the door in two years, but a leadership fight just might take shape over the next few days.
Then after that, in January, comes the big fight with Trump. House Republicans are likely to react to this defeat by moving even further to the right, becoming even Trumpier. Good, they’ll think; we got rid of our RINOs. Now we can take off our masks and be as bad as we wanna be.
Democrats have to be tough, but they shouldn’t try to match the Republicans for surliness. They just did an inspiring job. They and millions of voters across the country who threw themselves into this effort have a new face to show the country—the lesbian Native American who won in Kansas, that woman who won out of nowhere in an Oklahoma district that hasn’t been represented by a Democrat since the 1970s, tons of impressive women everywhere. They need to show America that face too, even as they buckle down and go after the corruption. They have a great new crop of people.
The fight is a long way from over. And there were disappointments Tuesday. But this was a very good night, for both Democrats and democrats.