Much of the success in increasing the size of the Democratic Caucus was achieved by talented women. If history is any lesson, this is a very good sign. The current women in Congress have, in general, been much more willing to cross the aisle and put country first. There is no indication that the new members wouldn’t follow that same pattern of bipartisanship. In Kansas, it was the women in the Legislature, in a well thought-out, nonpartisan way, that made major contributions to reversing some devastating outcomes of the Brownback Experiment. In Washington, for key crossover votes, almost without exception, Republican women are on that short list. At this moment there are not many Republican women in Congress, but there are several key ones who are willing to at least listen and set politics aside for the good of this country.
The Republican makeup of the U.S. House is different only in having fewer members in the caucus. It isn’t like there was any surge of new Republicans who fit the moderate mold replacing hard-line conservatives. I assume this is tied to the President’s dominance in Republican politics, including picking and supporting only candidates that are in line with the current far right direction. The Republican political machine probably doesn’t even recruit moderates that might be the most likely to win and to partner with Democrats.
While there will be plenty of opportunities to contrast with the President and speak up for American values, I believe another key for Democrats is not to go “investigation-crazy” now that they have power. Yes, some questions need to be answered, but I hope they pick the investigations with the strongest case that most Americans expect them to conduct. Hopefully, they stay away from dominating the evening news cycle with only coverage of what is being investigated. Much of what needs to be done for the good of the country has strong public support (for example, dealing with climate change). But if the public does not get the news on those issues and becomes distracted by one investigation after another, they won’t be the partner needed to get legislation into law.
In sum, much of these new members’ success, in my opinion, will depend heavily on what legislative plan is put together and how hard they are willing to work to avoid being just another different version of what we’ve had before. If all we get is lots of talk and investigating with no real effort made to reach across the aisle, progress, if any, will be limited. They need to remember the Senate is now even more Republican and if the Democrats’ effort to work with them comes across as partisan politics, I fear come 2020, the public will not be happy with either party. It may be impossible, but their efforts have got to be real and effectively communicated.