01.08.2019 0

Democrats face rocky road ahead as Trump demands wall funding

By Richard McCarty

House Democrats should enjoy their newfound power while they can, because the road ahead looks rocky. They just reelected an unpopular House Speaker, and now they have to find a way to reopen the government without angering their base too much. Building the wall could hurt a lot in the coming days. In addition, they have a number of radicals in their caucus advocating for an extremist agenda. That agenda could cost Democrats their majority, which is already shaky.

As the highest-ranking Democrat in the government, Nancy Pelosi will be one of the key voices voters hear explaining her party’s bizarre priorities for the next two years. Unfortunately for them, the San Francisco Democrat is polarizing, makes numerous gaffes, and is easily caricatured as an out-of-touch, wealthy coastal elitist.

To be reelected as Speaker, Pelosi had to agree to serve no more than four more years in the office; even with this concession, she was only elected with a narrow majority. 12 Democrats voted against her, and three others voted or were counted as present. This was her worst showing since 2011, right after she led her massive caucus to a crushing defeat. That year, 18 Democrats voted against her, and one voted present. Previously, she had minimal Democrat opposition.

Right out of the gate, Democrats have to deal with the partial government shutdown. President Trump made building a border wall a cornerstone of his campaign and has been very emphatic that he expects funding for it; but spiteful Democrats would rather shut down the government than fund the wall. With hundreds of thousands of government workers, including TSA agents, not getting paid, funding for the federal courts set to run out in just a few days, and food stamp money set to run out in a few weeks, someone will have to blink. House Democrats cannot impose their will on the Senate and White House.

Trump delivering the wall, should he succeed, could result in a tremendous disappointment by the Democratic base that just elected the House majority. On the other hand, leaving the government shut down indefinitely would not be much of an accomplishment either, from their perspective.

In addition to finding a pathway out of the shutdown minefield, Democrats need to rein in the radical members of their caucus to avoid alienating independent voters.  Just last week, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) introduced articles of impeachment against the President, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) profanely vowed to impeach the President, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) advocated for a 70% income tax rate. Furthermore, a group of House Democrats are demanding a “Green New Deal,” which would cost trillions of dollars and aim to quickly phase out the use of all coal, oil, and natural gas. It is hard to believe that an radical liberal agenda is what swing voters were looking for on Election Day, and nearly six in 10 Americans oppose impeachment, according to a recent Monmouth poll.

While the liberal media loves to talk about the “blue wave,” they seem to be ignoring the fact that the Democrat majority is far from solid. Democrats begin this Congress with 235 seats, so if they lose 18 seats, they lose their majority. To put this into perspective, the current Democrat majority is smaller than the last two Republican House majorities and the last Democrat House majority. Just as importantly, the Democrats’ majority was built on a series of narrow victories. 22 Democrats represent districts that they won by five points or less; 11 of those Democrats won by two points or less.

For the past eight years, House Democrats have had an easy job: mainly just showing up to vote against Republican legislation and railing against Republicans. Now that Democrats have the majority, they must demonstrate their ability to govern sensibly if they wish to remain in control. If the recent past is any guide, Democrats are not up to the task and could well be on a path back to the minority if they are not careful.

Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government.

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