Well, almost cleared. Or at least cleared enough for us to see the lay of the land after the elections. Technically, there’s a Senate seat from Florida that’s heading for a recount, and in Georgia, Stacey Abrams isn’t going to concede until every single vote has been counted (seriously, why are we letting one of the candidates in *any* election be the person who sets the rules for that election?).
The Forces of Democracy did very well. Though they lost a few seats in the Senate (taking control of that house was a long shot), they did garner control of the House of Representatives. Of considerable importance as well, they won a goodly number of governorships and state offices. And several states also passed decidedly Democratic measures (like Florida, where over one million residents got their voting rights restored).
So, now what?
There’s a huge “To Do” list for the Democrats in the House, but there are a few things that ought to be at or near the top.
Speaker Pelosi: For all the hate directed at her by the GOP, and the dislike from the far left wing of her own party (apparently, she’s not “liberal”, “progressive”, or “combative” enough), Nancy Pelosi should be allowed to serve again as Speaker of the House if she wants to. It’s not the Speaker’s primary job to set policy, serve as the “face” of the party, or be the party’s “attack dog”. The most important part of the job is getting legislation passed – and that’s something that Rep. Pelosi has mastered. Beg, plead, cajole, arm-twist, barter, berate…. She’s been called the best Speaker ever, and there’s no reason she shouldn’t be allowed to repeat in that role. Especially since the Democrat’s majority in the House isn’t really that large. It will be absolutely vital to keep everyone together to make sure key legislation gets through. And speaking of legislation….
Legislation: I’m sure that there are quite a few things on the Democrats “wish list”, but first and foremost should be something to protect the Mueller Investigation from interference. That’s even more important now that Attorney General Sessions has been quit-fired, and his replacement need not play “hands off” with the investigation. They should also take steps to firm up the Affordable Care Act, which the GOP has tried to destroy or weaken at every opportunity. Patch up the few weak spots in it so that it can resist any further attempts at sabotage. Also on the list should be something to protect the “Dreamers”, people brought to this country illegally when they were children (and didn’t have a say in the matter). At least something to continue the program that covers their continued residence here; perhaps even add something that gives them a clear path to citizenship. Restore the Voting Rights Act, so that it will be much harder to do the sort of chicanery we’ve just seen in Georgia.
Investigations: Now that the Democrats will be running all the committees in the House, they can use that power to investigate all the corruption of the Trump regime. Certainly Adam Schiff will want to have the House Intelligence Committee look at all the national security issues with Trump and Russia; Richard Neal looks to get the chair at the House Ways & Means Committee – which has the authority to subpoena anyone’s tax returns – ANYONE’S – and make them public; Maxine Waters should wind up in charge of the House Financial Services Committee, and get her hands on Trump’s financial dealings with foreign businesses; Elijah Cummings is in line to take over the House Oversight Committee and start investigating our border policy with the family separations, the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the White House’s security clearance process…. the list goes on. It’s a target rich environment – there are literally dozens upon dozens of things that are worthy of being investigated. The hard part will be deciding which ones should be gone after first, and which ones deserve the most time and resources. The important thing will be to be patient with them. Don’t start throwing subpoenas around as soon as you’re seated. Take the time to get everything prepared and in order so it doesn’t come across as a partisan witch hunt (even though that’s what the Republicans will call it).
And by all that’s good and decent, resist the temptation to start talking about impeachment right off the bat. With Republicans in solid control of the Senate, it’s not going to happen. Let the investigations proceed at a steady pace, so that you can carefully build an unassailable case first.
It may not have been a perfect result for the Democrats, but they are in a very strong position to limit or even stop the worst that El Presidente can do.