I dedicate this post to my late, great friend Michael J. Pitts, who left this earth on Nov. 4. Michael taught me everything I know about politics, get-out-the-vote and putting together a ground game. He was one of the best Democratic field operators for more than 30 years. He organized Presidential inaugurals, Democratic conventions, Olympics, Super Bowls and more. He loved politics — not always the people, but the idea. He was inspiring, annoying, headstrong and large-hearted. I’m sad he did not make it to see the Democrat victory on Nov. 6, but he was there in spirit, enough to get us over the victory line. Michael Joseph Pitts, 1950-2018: RIP.
The Blue Wave that Michael didn’t witness was not a tsunami, but a large, surfable wave with pink pussy-hat tips — one that allowed Democrats to win more than the required 23 seats to take back the House of Representatives. The total of flipped seats now stands at 38 (or possibly 39); it might reach 40 by the time all the counting is done. Should we celebrate or be circumspect? Well, we’ll be in a strong position to investigate, issue subpoenas or even begin impeachment proceedings. But before we get all drunk with power, let’s have a look at the incoming 116th Congress.
First, 2019 will see the largest number of women, people of color and LGBTQ members in the history of Congress.
In fact, according to NBC News:
More than 200 of the candidates running in congressional and statewide races on Tuesday were black, Latino, Asian American, Native American, LGBTQ or intersectional. More than 80 of those candidates won their elections.
This means we will now be closer to a House of Representatives that truly represents the diversity of the US than ever before — including a record number of firsts. Ilhan Omar, for example, will be the first Somali-American elected to Congress, and Rashida Tlaib will be the first Palestinian-American elected to Congress. At just 28, the now-famous Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. The parents of the new Congressman from Colorado, Joe Neguse, are refugees from Eritrea, one of Trump’s shit-hole African countries. It looks like they sent us their best and brightest — thanks, Eritrea! And who knew that the House would get two Native American representatives in Debra Haaland from New Mexico and Sharice Davids, who is also openly gay, from conservative Kansas (which finally gave Voter Fraud Hunter Kris Kobach the boot).
This new majority in Congress, made up of women, non-white men, women, non-Christians, women, sons of refugees, women, gays and bisexuals, women, Native Americans and women, will have Trump running scared. Watching that infamous press conference the day after the election, you could see it — Trump was raging and boiling, freaking out and lashing out. I imagine he lost it so bigly because, deep down, he’s terrified — and he should be. Like a caged animal he paced back and forth, telling respected female journalist April Ryan to sit down, then telling another female reporter, Abby Phillip, that she asks stupid questions, and telling that hapless intern to take away the mic from CNN’s Jim Acosta. Which, of course, led to the White House’s fake-news meme that Acosta “put his hands on a woman,” which they backed up with a clearly doctored video. Trump yanked Acosta’s White House press credentials until CNN sued and now he’s gotten his credentials back — at least for now.
But the Dems really need to think through their options. And no, I don’t mean voting or not voting for Nancy Pelosi. Rather, one troubling possibility for our unstable genius president will be the Democrats’ subpoena power. For the last two years, Trump has been protected from House oversight by his cozy relationship with the weak, mealy-mouthed, soon-to-exit Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and soon-to-be-former Majority Leader and Tea Party favorite Kevin McCarthy. That will now be over; we can assume that Democrats will use their power, and use it quickly.
On the House Judiciary Committee, in particular, the current do-nothing Republican chair, Bob Goodlatte, will soon be replaced by New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, who might very well do something — as the Committee oversees the Department of Justice, including all the agencies under its jurisdiction, including the FBI. Gulp! Nadler will also have the power to protect Robert Mueller and to investigate Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who is under his own cloud of scandal and corruption. Investigations are coming.
What else should Democrats do? Well, they’ll have the power to order Trump’s tax returns. If they do this, we’ll know how much he’s actually worth (just a lowly millionaire), which loans he has with which foreign banks and countries, and which countries have business dealings with the Trump Organization. Americans have the right to know whether Trump makes decisions based on how they affect his company’s bottom line or on the country’s best interests. My money is on his money.
And what else? There are so many corrupt swamp creatures swimming in Trump’s cabinet that it could take the next two years, or maybe 20, to investigate them all. Whereas the current Congressional leaders have no interest in the ethics and corruption scandals of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (14 active investigations) or Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Democrats should be very interested in that. They should go after the corrupt former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, and keep their eye on Onis “Trey” Glenn III, a mid-level lackey at Trump’s EPA who was just indicted in Alabama.
The new Democratic Congress must blow wide open the Russia investigation that was kept under wraps by Rep. Devin Nunes, probably the most ethically compromised member of the House, which is saying something. Nunes has left so many unanswered questions and loose ends that one short yank and the whole sweater will unravel. And then we can watch Trump have a meltdown in real time.
The incoming chair of House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, has made it clear that all of this will happen in 2019. What else can Democrats do? They can open Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., to investigation, leading perhaps to more indictments of people who are close to the President.
Oh, and Democrats must protect the Affordable Care Act — ensuring nothing jeopardizes protections for people with pre-existing conditions. And Democrats must be careful with that word that I used before: impeachment. Most Americans don’t support it. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 56% of voters don’t want Trump impeached. Fine. Democrats should use their power to make people want Trump to be voted out in 2020 — and publicly humiliated.
Let’s make sure Democrats don’t pursue impeachment until there is clear, convincing evidence that Trump personally worked with, or had firsthand knowledge of, Russian collusion within his 2016 campaign. Let’s make very, very, very sure about this. Unless there’s Trump, Julian Assange, Vladimir Putin and peeing hookers in a time-stamped video high-five-ing each other before a sign reading “Congratulations on Successful Collusion!,” I’m just saying Democrats need to be careful.
For if you think the last two years was an insane roller-coaster of instability, cruelty, idiocy and incompetence, just wait until January. Trump is set to clean house, getting rid of his B team, since his B+ team left long ago, and leaving him with just his C and D team — only those incompetents still willing to risk their reputations. And with a Democratic Congress in control, buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.