The truth, though, is that the Democrats do have an agenda. They just can’t say it aloud. The reason Democrats seek power in 2018 is to obstruct President Trump wholly and without exception, to tie down his administration using the subpoena powers of a dozen committees, and ultimately to lay the groundwork for his impeachment. The Democratic grassroots expects nothing less.

But the Democratic leadership understands that this unspoken agenda is unpalatable to the rest of the country. Swing voters may long for institutional checks against Trump, but they are leery of impeachment. Suburbanites may be annoyed by the president’s tweets, but they still believe that both sides should “put aside their differences” and “get something done.” The Times notices that many of the Democrats running in Republican-held districts “rarely mention the president by name.” What these candidates understand is that explicitly making the 2018 election about Trump—which it certainly is—risks motivating Trump supporters to rally to his defense.

Better to keep quiet, have Trump loom in the background, and adapt to local circumstances as much as possible. Or as Nancy Pelosi put it recently, “Do whatever you have to do, just win.”