Putting ‘united’ back in the United States
Unity is the most important job facing the president and this new divided Congress.
Washington certainly will look different come January. But will it act differently? Don’t look for that example to come from the White House. President Trump wasted little time at this wild press conference Wednesday before taking credit for what he referred to as a great Republican victory.
This despite Democrats retaking the House of Representatives.
The danger from Tuesday’s midterm election is that the lesson may be lost on us. We remain a divided nation. And this is now evident concretely on Capitol Hill. But our divide goes much deeper than that.
Democrats retook the House of Representatives, led in part by a Blue Wave of women voters that saw unprecedented numbers of women elected to the House. Here in southeastern Pennsylvania, four women Democrats won key Congressional races.
At the same time, Trump and Republicans not only did not lose the Senate, they actually added to their majority there.
The result: Government will remain just as divided as the people it represents.
The president downplayed what many believed was going to be a Blue Wave, saying it appeared more like a trickle. He may be right.
Aside from the gridlock that likely will continue to grip Washington, there is another more frightening aspect of this ugly, nasty campaign that could have a far greater effect on the nation.
The politics of division works. At least on some levels.
The president spent the weeks leading up to the election preaching to his faithful about what pulls us apart, not what brings us together.
He constantly warned of an invading “horde” of immigrants, people fleeing strife in their native Honduras and seeking what all of us can trace back in our family trees, a slice of the American dream.
Trump used that “dream” as a cudgel to paint a nightmarish scene of “us” vs. them.
It was a blatant platter of red meat for his base. And they ate it up.
The president, who had trouble dealing with members of his own party when they controlled both the House and Senate, will see a new threat to his program with a House that is now controlled by Democrats.
When he wasn’t attacking the media, the president at his press conference seemed ready to work with Democrats. He even complimented expected new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
He suggested his prowess as a deal maker will allow him to work with Democrats on some of the big issues facing the country, the continuing health care war and the evolving popularity of the Affordable Care Act; spiking prescription drug costs; a plan to attack America’s crumbling infrastructure; and middle-class tax relief.
Both parties spent much of the day after the election crowing about their victories – and let there be no doubt, there were winners on both sides.
Democrats made big gains in urban and suburban areas. The president’s appeal clearly resonated in more rural, conservative areas.
The divide was put in perspective by a person who knows it well – and has decided to walk away.
Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6 of Chester County, took a look at the numbers after the state Supreme Court redrew the state’s congressional districts and saw the writing on the wall. He opted not to run for re-election.
Not surprisingly, Democrat Chrissy Houlahan rode those favorable numbers to an easy win over Republican Greg McCauley. In the process she joined Mary Kay Scanlon in doing something that has never done before.
Just as Scanlon will be the first woman ever to represent Delaware County, Houlahan becomes a similar barrier crasher in Chester County.
“This election probably more neatly organized the institutions of the Senate and the House into Trump and nonTrump areas,” said Costello, who has grown increasingly critical of the president and his policies since deciding not to run for re-election.
That’s also part of the underlying divisions. Trump made a point at his press conference to note that those Republicans who lined up with him won, while those who eschewed his support fell.
The most important job facing the president and this new divided Congress?
Putting the united back in the United States.