What does the Democratic Party stand for other than visceral and vocal opposition to President Donald Trump? Ask the average Democrat on the street, and you’re likely to get a million different answers; it’s one of the major reasons why the party has been struggling to define itself since Trump shocked the universe with his upset victory in November 2016. ‘The Resistance’ will settle for nothing short of pitchfork leftist populism, a rambunctiousness that party elders tend to regard as juvenile.
Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker-in-waiting, has tried to demonstrate a more mature face of the party to American voters less than a week before the polls open. In a presser this week, she briefly outlined what Democrats would focus on in the event she reclaimed the Speaker’s gavel after Democrats have spent eight years in the minority. It’s an impressive and expansive list, one that includes line-items like lowering the cost of prescription drugs; a $1 trillion infrastructure package; putting some guardrails up to better monitor the dark money flowing into American politics; providing a path to citizenship for the Dreamers; introducing stricter gun control laws; and raising awareness on climate change. While some of these initiatives are controversial and will likely die a quick death, they at least present the Democratic Party as serious about governing.
Pelosi and her lieutenants, however, have a significant problem — a growing segment of the Democratic Party doesn’t appear all that interested in legislating.
Better roads and bridges are nice, but investigating Donald Trump and digging into his tax returns and past business dealings is nicer. For all of Pelosi’s calls about returning civility and decency into the political arena, she may quickly learn that the young progressives inducted into her ranks prefer to take the Michael Avenatti approach rather than the high road of Joe Biden. Why, they may ask, should Democrats be civil when the other guy plays dirty? Why should the party take the high road when it can go low and kick the other guy in the shins.
Even in these treacherous partisan times, Trump and a Democratic-led House may be able to collaborate on a few issues. Infrastructure reform is one. Saving entitlements is another. There may even be an immigration deal in the offing if Trump gets a few more billion dollars for his southern border wall.
But we shouldn’t fall for Pelosi’s shtick. If Democrats do win the House or the Senate (or both), the American people should expect two years of hell leading into the 2020 presidential campaign. Trump will label the Democrats as rabid obstructionists and continue inciting his base. Democrats will use their majority status to reopen a Russia investigation that never seems to go away. Committee chairman like Maxine Waters and Jerrold Nadler will leverage their newfound subpoena power to demand documents about administration malfeasance and drag administration witnesses up to Capitol Hill for intense grilling sessions. And the entire system could very well grind to a halt as Democrats launch impeachment proceedings against a president they already see as the devil incarnate.
If you think the first two years of the Trump era have been a whirlwind, you’ve seen nothing yet.