An­other elec­tion has come and gone. Now what?

Imperial Valley Press - - OPINION - RICH MANIERI

That’s over with. And not a mo­ment too soon. It’s usu­ally at this point when I start re­view­ing what I’ve seen and heard over the past sev­eral months and try to make some sense of it, not un­like what a psy­chol­o­gist might do with a par­tic­u­larly vivid and dis­turb­ing night­mare.The prob­lem with po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns in gen­eral, and TV ads in par­tic­u­lar, is that there re­ally are no rules any­more. It’s Thun­der­dome. Mis­char­ac­ter­i­za­tions, mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions, quotes out of con­text – any­thing goes. You can say any­thing about any­one. And yet, they keep com­ing. Neg­a­tive po­lit­i­cal ads are up 60 per­cent since 2014, ac­cord­ing to the Wes­leyan Me­dia Project, which tracks po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­tis­ing.

As much as we com­plain about the process, the main rea­son can­di­dates go neg­a­tive is be­cause it works. An Emory Univer­sity study re­leased in May re­vealed that a 1 per­cent in­crease in neg­a­tive ad­ver­tis­ing by a can­di­date sig­nif­i­cantly boosts the can­di­date’s chance of win­ning.

Yes, that means it’s our fault. We’re ev­i­dently buy­ing a good bit of what’s be­ing sold, no mat­ter how mis­lead­ing or out­ra­geous it might be.

By now we’ve seen just about ev­ery­thing short of some­one Pho­to­shop­ping devil horns on his op­po­nent. And that’s prob­a­bly not far off.

This year’s cam­paign sea­son fea­tured a new wrin­kle – a can­di­date in­flict­ing pun­ish­ment on him­self.

Far-left pro­gres­sive, Levi Tille­man, of Colorado, who ran his cam­paign for Congress on the “Ev­ery­thing-is-Free-For­ever” plat­form, was vol­un­tar­ily pep­per-sprayed in an ad. He was at­tempt­ing to demon­strate his sup­port for non-lethal weapons in schools as an al­ter­na­tive to arm­ing school em­ploy­ees.

Tille­man was ren­dered help­less. Ap­par­ently, so was his cam­paign be­cause he lost in the pri­mary.

This, and many other not-so-shin­ing cam­paign mo­ments are now com­mit­ted to his­tory.

But who will ever for­get Min­nesota Demo­crat Richard Pain­ter stand­ing in front of an ac­tual dump­ster fire say­ing, “There’s an in­ferno rag­ing in Wash­ing­ton!”? Pain­ter ran for Al Franken’s va­cated Se­nate seat and was trounced in the pri­mary.

Or how about rogue Repub­li­can Se­nate can­di­date Don Blanken­ship of West Vir­ginia, who re­ferred to Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell’s fam­ily as his “China fam­ily”? He, too, lost in the pri­mary.

As we take stock and di­gest Tues­day re­sults, where are we?

Don­ald Trump is still in the White House. Repub­li­cans are still in con­trol of the Se­nate. The Democrats now hold the ma­jor­ity in the House.

I’d like to be­lieve that our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Wash­ing­ton will see di­vided gov­ern­ment as an op­por­tu­nity to show some ac­tual lead­er­ship and seek com­pro­mise on dif­fi­cult is­sues. And I’m not the only one.

“I be­lieve that there is an op­por­tu­nity for Democrats to reach across the aisle and pass an im­pact­ful in­fra­struc­ture bill and, be­lieve it or not, a com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form bill,” wrote Demo­crat and for­mer Penn­syl­va­nia Gov. Ed Ren­dell in an opin­ion piece for “Both in­fra­struc­ture and im­mi­gra­tion re­form have en­joyed bi­par­ti­san sup­port in the past and I think there is a real po­ten­tial to ham­mer out pos­i­tive re­sponses to th­ese two im­por­tant chal­lenges.”

Ren­dell is a smart guy and he knows it would be a mis­take for Democrats to use their ma­jor­ity as a tool for both ob­struc­tion and fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ren­dell also knows that if the Democrats over­play their hand, the main ben­e­fi­ciary is likely to be Don­ald Trump in 2020. What­ever mo­ti­va­tion the Democrats might have for fo­cus­ing on pol­icy, I’m not ex­actly per­co­lat­ing with op­ti­mism that it will hap­pen and here’s why.

Demo­cratic Rep. Max­ine Wa­ters, who has urged her sup­port­ers to ha­rass mem­bers of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, is set to be­come chair of the pow­er­ful House Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee.

Out­spo­ken Trump critic, Demo­cratic Rep. Adam Schiff, is poised to as­sume lead­er­ship of the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi could wind up House speaker once again. Pelosi said Tues­day night that this elec­tion was about “stop­ping the GOP.”

Th­ese are not moder­ate Democrats search­ing for com­mon ground with their Repub­li­can col­leagues. This is the anti-Trump re­sis­tance and any leg­isla­tive ef­fort that ends with Trump re­ceiv­ing even a mod­est amount of credit will trig­ger a party-wide reach for air­sick bags. Pass­ing an in­fra­struc­ture bill that ac­tu­ally does some good should be easy. Ev­ery­one wants good roads and bridges.

Un­for­tu­nately, as we’ve seen too of­ten, just be­cause some­thing makes sense doesn’t mean it will hap­pen.

And not much will make sense to the rest of us un­til our law­mak­ers re­al­ize that checks and bal­ances and ob­struc­tion are not the same thing.

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