Will election outcome bring us some relief?

November 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — It wasn’t a blue trickle, but nor was it a tsunami. Rather, the midterm elections brought a gentle, purplish wave of mostly center-leaning Democrats whose profiles suggest a welcome infusion of professionalism and balance to a disorderly House.

Unlike the tea party revolution of 2010, when Republicans gave Democrats a “shellacking,” as then-President Obama put it, this year’s victors seem more inclined to govern than to disrupt. Perhaps this is because so many of them are women, who tend to work well together even when particular issues may place them on opposite political sides.

Indeed, in this election many of the tea party and Freedom Caucus Republicans — notably outgoing Rep. David Brat, R-Va., who came to office by defeating then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor — will be holding the door for up to 40 new Democratic members, depending upon final tallies in some races. This is a blessing in so many ways.

First, the Democrats’ takeover of the House brings much-needed balance to the Congress. It’s rarely, if ever, good for the country when one party controls all branches of government, even if it means the occasional gridlock.

Second, a Democratic majority in the House may well mean a greater likelihood of compromise on big issues such as infrastructure, health care and immigration. It’s apparently what President Trump is thinking as well.

Plainly, the surge in women candidates on the Democratic side was partly in response to antipathy toward Trump — for all the familiar reasons. Yet, as Trump said on Nov. 7 during a contentious news conference, he and Republicans now have no choice but to work with Democrats if they want to get anything done.

Since no one asked, I thought I’d offer some advice.

First, to Republicans: Change the soundtrack on immigration and make your voices louder than the president’s. Without a doubt, immigration is tough, but it needn’t be apocalyptic. As of now, the GOP is increasingly viewed as racist — not without reason.

It is possible to enforce borders and create rational solutions to handle people entering the country illegally without appearing to be anti-immigrant. I know, it’s specious to conclude that tough policies are anti-immigrant, but you needn’t respond so convincingly. Separating children from parents — and watching mutely as armed troops are sent to the border to combat, literally, a caravan of migrants, including some children — should be an outrage.

Also, make conservatism cool again. Speak intelligently to young Americans about things like freedom as a counterpoint to the socialist vision increasingly in vogue on the left. More government always means less freedom.

To Democrats: Resist the temptation to be worse than Republicans. If we keep this up, with each side bringing ever-more extreme views to the table, we won’t have a country. We’ll have two countries. Don’t waste time on impeachment — either the president’s or Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s. Ultimately, this would rupture the country beyond repair.

Finally, Mr. President, with all due respect: You’re the commander in chief of the free world. This means that people will listen to you no matter what. You absolutely have the option of being gracious, humble, generous, self-effacing and kind — while also being tough. Bury your TV personality and try to charm America, starting with the media.

Smile. It so becomes you. Especially smile at your enemies, perceived or real. It infuriates them — and you’ll still get the last laugh. By no means least, leave Robert Mueller alone. After all, you’ve nothing to fear. Right?

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist. Her email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

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