For all the sound and fury surrounding the midterm elections this year, we wound up with kind of a dud. “Split decision” is the most common headline I’m seeing this morning, so it’s the kind of election where both parties are going to declare victory and go home. When I flipped on the TV to CNN while making coffee today, I heard John Berman describing the results in the House as, “it’s sort of a blue wave, right?” That kind of enthusiasm is hard to come by.
Despite Van Jones describing himself as being “heartbroken” over the lack of a blue tsunami, he really doesn’t have all that much to worry about beyond some short-term disappointment. Why? Because nothing that much has actually changed. Analysts are busy trying to describe what it all means, but they don’t need to spin their wheels for very long. All we really need to look at is what will and won’t be happening next year.
What will be happening differently is the number of investigations into the President and any other Republican/Conservative targets the Democrats can get in their sights. Since they’ll hold the chairs in the committees making those decisions there will be plenty of opportunities for grandstanding and theatrics, eagerly gobbled up by the mainstream media. But beyond that… not much.
But the government functions which most conservatives are highly interested in and only require the Senate to get them done will continue on, perhaps even more smoothly. Judicial nominations by the President at all levels will be approved even more quickly. With a more comfortable margin of 54 or 55 (we may still lose Montana), nominees will be able to slide through even if Collins and Murkowski need to “vote their conscience” on a few of them. The President’s record of appointing conservative jurists will march forward and Cocaine Mitch will have an easier time wrangling votes for them.
Let’s look at what won’t be happening, despite the fever dreams of the Democrats. First, there will be no big ticket legislative packages going through. No major immigration reform supporting the highest priorities of either party. No new tax cuts, but also no tax increases. No new gun control legislation. The fact is, these folks will be lucky if they can name a new Post Office.
The President isn’t going to be impeached. The Democrats would need to round up every one of their members in the House to get the ball rolling and too many of them are on record saying that would be too extreme. And even if they managed it in the House there is zero chance of a conviction in the Senate. Donald Trump will finish his first term at a minimum.
The wall isn’t going to be finished. That’s somehow become a badge of honor among Democrats, despite being one of the most doable solutions to immigration problems imaginable. If we’re going to get any money at all for additional wall construction, the new House majority will want a massive pound of flesh in return.
Bills that liberals like will probably be passed in the House only to die in the Senate. Conservative legislation won’t make it out of committee in the House so the Senate generally won’t even get a chance to look at them. This, of course, means that the President will need to continue to rely on executive orders and reinterpretations of language to make any progress, just as Obama did. If you see that as a positive development, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
Bottom line… nobody has any reason to celebrate as far as I can tell. This election was “historic” in terms of the numbers and the split decision, but that’s only of interest to those of us who engage in political trivia for a living. The practical downstream effects are virtually nill.