The 2018 midterm elections are over, even though some votes are still coming in, and some Democrats may be cheating to reverse some key Republican wins. While not every result is in, the basic form of the election is clear: Republicans have gained at least one seat in the U.S. Senate but Democrats have won the majority in the House of Representatives.
What comes next? Here are five major predictions about the next two years.
1. Trump-Russia, back with a vengeance.
With Republicans in the White House and the Senate and Democrats in the House of Representatives, Congress is unlikely to pass any major legislation. Democrats will have to have something to show for their time, and they have already announced they will use their position to investigate President Donald Trump.
Committees in the House of Representatives have subpoena power, and with that power, Democrats will investigate everything they can, even the tiniest sliver of evidence that someone in Trump’s orbit spoke with someone in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s orbit at some cocktail bar. As more and more evidence emerges, it appears clear that Russia’s goal was to divide Americans with ads supporting both Republican and Democrat causes.
Ironically, in pushing for the chimera of Trump-Russia collusion, Democrats will do Russia’s bidding, dividing Americans on every issue imaginable.
Meanwhile, the White House will beef up its staff to handle the burgeoning mountain of oversight tasks. The battle between congressional Democrats and Donald Trump is bad news for the country, good news for the Russians, and good news for Republican staffers looking for work in the administration.
2. White House confirmations.
The White House will not just start hiring oversight staff, however. With the Senate in Republican hands, Trump can confirm cabinet members and other high-ranking government officials.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions handed in his resignation on Wednesday, and he will not be the last. Trump will be able to confirm his successor, and the successors of other high-ranking officials. There are many government offices that have remained vacant since Barack Obama’s retirement — those offices will also be filled.
The next two years will feature confirmation after confirmation after confirmation. As the House bogs down the Trump administration with investigations, the Senate will enable it to staff up in important ways.
3. The courts.
Following the intense battle over the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, Americans are intimately acquainted with the importance of Republican control of the U.S. Senate. With the Senate in Republican hands, President Trump’s court nominees will be confirmed with less of a fight.
Americans should hope that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recovers from her fall earlier this week, but that fall should remind the country that the liberals’ favorite justice is 85 years old. Her steely resolve is legendary — she has survived two bouts of cancer. Even so, there is only so much the human body can handle. If she retires, Trump will have another vacancy to fill.
While Supreme Court justices are extremely important, the confirmations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh only tell part of the story. Trump has nominated a total of 29 confirmed judges to the U.S. courts of appeal and 53 judges to the U.S. district courts, bringing his total of confirmed judges to 84.
With more Republicans in the Senate, Trump will be able to confirm more judges on every level. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will spend the next two years pumping out confirmations to remake the federal bench. The Supreme Court confirmations will receive a great deal of attention, but the lower courts are also important.
4. Partisan hostility will increase.
With Trump remaking the federal courts and confirming more members of his administration, Democrats will ramp up their “end of the world” rhetoric. Liberals will find new reasons to attack Trump’s administration as corrupt (whether legitimate or illegitimate), and the Hitler comparisons will keep on coming.
Shane Mekeland, a Minnesota state representative-elect who was sucker-punched last month after Hillary Clinton said Democrats could not be civil until they took power, expressed hope that Democrat victories might calm down the rabid liberals who engaged in mass protests. Sadly, it seems this will not happen.
On Wednesday night, protesters mobbed the residence of Fox News host Tucker Carlson. They vandalized his house and his car. Worse, Carlson wasn’t even there — but his terrified wife was.
With Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) leading the charge, encouraging protesters to accost public figures when they are spending private time with their families, liberals will continue to harass Republicans.
President Trump would be wise to draw a line in the sand, to call for civility, and to denounce any harassment and especially violence. If he reversed his position on Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), this call for civility could define him as the candidate of normalcy and give him an important boost in 2020.
5. Every Democrat under the sun will run for president.
That’s hyperbole, but it illustrates an important point. Democrats have started making moves on the White House — visiting Iowa, increasing their profiles, and testing the waters for a 2020 run. The Democratic primary is going to be a bloodbath.
Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016 opened the floodgates. Democrats tried rushing one unpopular candidate to the top of the ticket, and it backfired, badly. Players like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and many more will announce their candidacies. Some, like Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), have already started the process.
Neither Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) nor Hillary Clinton has ruled out a 2020 campaign, and former vice president Joe Biden also seems a strong contender. Oh, and don’t forget the Great Democratic Hope Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke!
Democrats are so intent on destroying Trump, they all want a piece of the action, and in the meantime they’ll be tearing themselves to shreds. A bloody primary is likely good news for Trump and fellow Republicans, but if one shining candidate can come through unscathed, that could be a bad thing.
These Democrats are likely to vie for the mantle of Bernie Sanders — even if they’re running against him. Democratic socialism has made key inroads on the Left (as the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez testifies), and the big government craze is likely just beginning. Americans need to firmly defeat it at the ballot box in 2020.
Conservatives need to be aiming for 2020, but not just by hitting the pavement. We need to make the case for small government, free markets, and the rule of law. We need to defend the goodness of America’s heritage — explaining why the promise of America is indeed open to everyone, regardless of race, sex, or class. We need to address the changing currents of technology in family and work, and we need to make the case for freedom.
While both sides often get distracted by the ballot box, the ultimate struggle is for the hearts and minds of Americans. Will the people of the United States embrace and defend our good heritage, or will they reject it for the toxic mix of socialism and identity politics? This question increasingly defines Republican and Democrat politics, but conservatives need to make the points so well that Democrats have to return to America’s first principles.
The ultimate victory does not come with Trump, but when Democrats uphold the same American values as Republicans.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.