If the Democrats were able to hold down their losses in the worst midterm environment in decades it would serve as a constraint on the Republican majority. That would be especially significant if, as many predict, the Democrats become the majority in the House. To be sure, the filibuster can no longer be used to block nominations, but it retains considerable vitality as a device to gain concessions from the majority on legislation. Subtract a handful of Democrats and that influence diminishes and along with it the ability to thwart Trump’s legislative agenda.
In the eyes of many Democratic party activists, of course, votes for confirmation by the three endangered senators and a few others somewhat less vulnerable would be selling out for the cheapened coin of incumbency. It is awkward to attack arguments in favor of political valor. But it is unrealistic to demand self-immolation of politicians especially in a what seems obviously to be a losing cause.
Pressure on Sen. Schumer from rank-and-file Democrats to scuttle the Trump agenda in Congress has been fierce and unrelenting, and one of the responsibilities of a Senate leader is to listen to the demands of the party’s most loyal adherents and contributors and heed them if possible. But it is also important that he manage the expectations of party loyalists and dissuade them from pressing for objectives that are unattainable. One such objective is the defeat of the Kavanaugh nomination. It is not worth the loss of seats that will cost his party current influence and move it further away from a future majority.