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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Now that the 2018 midterm election is over, one thing is clear: This wasn’t simply a referendum on President Trump. It was also a referendum on the Democrats, the left and the media. And the split-decision results carry significant consequences.

First the bad news: The Democrats taking majority control of the House will reshape the political environment for the next two years. It means a stalled Trump agenda, legislative paralysis, a likely dent in economic growth, subpoena power wielded with wild abandon, endless investigations and an emboldened #Resistance. They’re already gleefully twirling their collective moustache as they plot new ways to tie Mr. Trump to the train tracks.


Now to the good news: First, Democrats significantly underperformed. The much-hyped “blue wave” was non-existent. It was more like a blue trickle, and a historically unimpressive one at that. In 2010, President Obama oversaw staggering Democratic losses in the House (63 seats) and in 1994, President Clinton watched as Republicans picked up 54 House seats and eight Senate seats. This year, Democrats may pick up roughly 35 seats for a relatively narrow majority. That’s a whimper not a bang.

Meanwhile, Republicans outperformed in the Senate, with Democrats hemorrhaging seats (and losing key governorships). The Democrats who did win were mainly moderates, while most far-left progressives running on an investigation agenda and radical policies largely lost. Voters appear to want balance, not resistance. Will Democrats learn this lesson? Likely not. After all, the faces of the Democratic Party are now Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Not exactly a winning centrist line-up.

Next, the Senate will be the Republican core strength over the next two years. With a newly expanded majority, the GOP will continue to help Mr. Trump remake the federal judiciary. Two U.S. Supreme Court justices and more than 80 federal judges have been confirmed in the first two years of his presidency, with upwards of 100 more to swiftly follow.

Related: Following the despicable left-wing hit job on his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Mr. Trump defined the midterms as the Kavanaugh election, and he succeeded. The sole Senate Democrat to confirm him, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, survived while every other red state Democrat who opposed him bit the dust.

This brings us to the Trump Effect, which is more potent than ever. He’s the only bullhorn that matters. Republican candidates succeeded in places where the president committed his time, resources and star power. All 2020 Republican candidates should take note: Don’t run away from Mr. Trump. Embrace him. It will serve you well.

Another silver lining to the House results: Mr. Trump is at his most effective when he’s got a beastly foil against whom to run. Hillary Clinton was the perfect villain for him. With one backhand — “Crooked Hillary” — and relentless follow-on attacks on her corrupt character and record, Mr. Trump destroyed her.

Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House will be manna from Heaven for his re-election effort. Mr. Trump will spend the next two years running against the Democrats’ destructive policies and their radical and crusty left-wing leadership from Mrs. Pelosi to Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff. Their inevitable investigative feeding frenzy leading to a go-nowhere impeachment will go over like a lead balloon. MSNBC and CNN may celebrate their relentless assault, but the rest of the country will reject the futile partisan overreach.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, will incessantly pound them into the ground, thereby not just guaranteeing his own re-election but delivering the House back to Republican control.

So Democrats should enjoy their momentary success because beginning today, Mr. Trump is going to devour them like a dinner party hors d’oeuvre.

The midterm results made another thing clear: Star power cannot be artificially manufactured. Democrats pushed three candidates as their “next big things”: Texas Senate contender Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. Mr. O’Rourke, who spent a staggering $70 million, was given the full rock star treatment by the party and media and still lost. Ms. Abrams brought in Oprah, and Mr. Gillum showcased Mr. Obama. They all went down in flames. The seductive power of the left-wing political celebrity seems to have hit a wall.

There is a final bit of good news. America has survived bad Congresses before and it will survive this one, too — particularly given the Republican strength in the Senate. But politics is a forward-looking, not backward-looking, game. After all, as the last ballots were being counted this week, the starting pistol on 2020 was fired. Buckle up.

• Monica Crowley is a columnist for The Washington Times


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