Buckle up, it'll be a bumpy ride for the next two years

A fundamental question for President Donald Trump, as he moves forward after the midterms, is this: what rol...

Posted: Nov 9, 2018 6:38 AM
Updated: Nov 9, 2018 6:38 AM

A fundamental question for President Donald Trump, as he moves forward after the midterms, is this: what role does he want to play? If he seeks to be the great negotiator he has always claimed to be, there could be an opportunity for him to cut the deal on immigration and on guns that other Republicans would not be allowed to by their base, and also a deal on infrastructure or tariffs. Will he do this? Or does the President double down on the rhetoric we have seen over the past two years?

These opportunities for movement exist. But the President's combative post-election press conference Tuesday -- and the dismissal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- appear to answer the question. There will be no pivot. Indeed, that this fighting posture was Trump's reaction to an election he claimed was a rousing success shows that the next two years are more likely to be a continuation of confrontation than any kind of cooperation.

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And despite presumed Speaker-to-be Pelosi's words in her own post-election turn before reporters, it's clear her conference wants a more confrontational approach.

When Republicans won the 2010 elections, picking up 63 House seats, the red wave, or "Tea Party election," was undeniable. Similarly, Tuesday night's results, without question, present new and existential problems for President Trump -- namely, a Democratic House hell-bent on investigating every aspect of his administration, and with subpoena power to do so. This will take a great deal of the administration's time and will mean that they are not as focused on their priorities as they otherwise would be -- regardless of what Democrats find or how much they potentially overreach.

And while many are arguing over whether or not the election results constitute a "blue wave" -- which in my opinion is as silly as debating whether or not a newly elected President has a "mandate;" when you've won, you've won -- what's clear is that we are seeing a continuance of the realignment based on how rural or suburban a community is. So many red places got redder and blue places bluer. And if the results don't perfectly fit with the definition of a political wave -- Florida's results, for instance -- the shift is plain to see.

In the meantime, let's not expect a whole lot to get done between now and 2020.

The Washington Post and ProPublica issued a scathing piece Monday laying out how Congress hasn't been doing, well, its job as Congress over the years. This is a bipartisan problem. Hearings into administrations of the opposite party? Check. Hearings on legislation Congress is looking to consider or a working appropriations process? Well, not so much.

The Obama legislative agenda effectively died on election night 2010. There's no reason to think that the same did not happen for Trump on Tuesday, perhaps even more so given the large divide between the political classes.

Given the disparate results between the House and the Senate results -- with Democrats elated at taking over the House and Trump hammering home Senate pickups that make it easier to appoint, for instance, conservative judges, it's not clear that either party will learn a lesson.

If you view your parochial results as positive, there will be no reason to learn a lesson at all. Which means the ultimate takeaway from the results is a Washington more divided than ever, with brinksmanship and escalating rhetoric -- and a potential December shutdown -- as political constants.

In other words, buckle up. The next two years are going to be a bumpy ride.

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