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Election Outcome Revives Hope

November 11, 2018
Election Outcome Revives Hope

WASHINGTON — It wasn’t a blue trickle, 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 are women, who tend to work well together even when particular issues may place them on opposite political sides. In this election many of the tea party and Freedom Caucus Republicans will hold the door for up to 40 new Democratic members, depending upon final tallies in some races. This is a blessing. 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 occasional gridlock. Sometimes doing less is more. 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, counterintuitive though it seems. 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 Wednesday during a contentious news conference, he and Republicans now have no choice but to work with Democrats if they want to get anything done. Trump said he thought this more likely now that the numbers will force both parties to the table. Come January, Washington will get more interesting and animated — and possibly much better. Here’s some advice. Republicans should change the soundtrack on immigration. 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. To the president’s credit, minors will no longer be separated from their parents, but more than 200 children have yet to be reunited. Make this a conservative, family-values mission and demand an immediate resolution. 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, but maybe no one has explained this. Democrats must 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 Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as some urge. Ultimately, this would rupture the country beyond repair. Not that politicians care about polls, but exit surveys showed that only 39 percent thought Democrats should seek to impeach. Finally, Trump is the commander in chief of the free world. This means that people will listen no matter what. Maybe no one has ever told him this before, but he absolutely has the option of being gracious, humble, generous, self-effacing and kind — while also being tough. He could bury the TV personality and try to charm America, starting with the media and get them to eat out of his hand. If he smiles at your enemies, perceived or real, it will infuriate them — and give him the last laugh. He must leave Robert Mueller alone because, after all, he says he has nothing to fear. Right? KATHLEEN PARKER writes for The Washington Post. kathleenparker@washpost.com

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