So much for the Democrats’ hammer blow against Trumpism

Kelly McParland
Kelly McParland

His opponents still don’t grasp what it is about the president that appeals to the 40% or more of Americans who appear willing to stand by him no matter what

Despite what you may deduce from the results of Tuesday’s mid-term results, the Democrats’ successful bid to regain control of the House of Representatives may not be the hammer blow against Trumpism they’d hoped for.

They needed a gain of 23 seats; they made it with room to spare. That will certainly spur efforts to neutralize the ogre in the White House, just as Republicans turned the final years of the Obama administration into a quagmire of wasted efforts and blocked ambitions. It only takes control of one wing of Congress to sap much of the power of the presidency, and with the House under their command, Democrats have all the tools they need to wreak their revenge on a president they consider a pestilence just this side of biblical stature.

They can do a lot to make Trump’s life miserable, and they almost certainly will put great effort into it. Whether it nets them anything beyond the pleasure of inflicting pain is another matter, the problem being that the Democratic party is not a united front dedicated to furthering shared aims and national goals. At best it is a loose coalition of factions, interests, individuals and regional powers, which co-operate to win elections or promote shared goals, but only as long as everyone’s agendas are being served, and no competing interest arises. National party bosses try to instil some order, but cats can be herded easier than congresspeople worried about a nomination challenge.

They can do a lot to make Trump’s life miserable, and they almost certainly will put great effort into it

At the moment Democrats are a house deeply divided between an establishment desperate for some order, and a deeply frustrated activist wing keen to replace an aging and entrenched leadership with people who don’t look back fondly on San Francisco’s Summer of Love, or the day the Beatles landed at JFK airport, because they weren’t born yet. Even as advance polls recorded record turnouts across the country, analysts debated which was more likely to alarm voters: Trump’s Republicans holding on to the House or the return of the Democrats’ Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.

Pelosi is 78. She’s been in Washington for 30 years, more than a decade as Speaker or minority leader. Her Senate colleague Dianne Feinstein is 85, first elected to public office in 1970. Both are multi-millionaire California matriarchs — Pelosi owns a vineyard bordering the Napa river, Feinstein is married to the billionaire founder of a private equity firm. In contrast, some of the most high-profile, fiercely fought races were for governorships in Georgia and Florida, featuring younger, accomplished, energetic black candidates. Stacey Abrams is 44, one of six children born to a pair of Methodist ministers, a tax lawyer who writes romantic suspense novels on the side and would be the first black woman elected governor anywhere in the U.S. Andrew Gillum, 39, was seeking to become Florida’s first black governor in a contest that explored the nether regions of the partisan divide, tinged with a raw racial element. Commenting on opponent Ron DeSantis’s popularity among white nationalists, Gillum remarked: “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”


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