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One year later, neither party can get past last year's election

One year later, neither party can get past last year's election

A year after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' MORE shocked the world by winning the White House, both parties are dealing with the scars.

Republicans have control of the government but are a divided party in the age of Trump, whose war with the establishment has created fissures throughout the GOP.

Democrats are united in opposition to Trump but seem to agree on little else, and the party has yet to move past the divisive primary battle between Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump touts report Warner attempted to talk to dossier author Poll: Nearly half of Iowans wouldn’t vote for Trump in 2020 Rubio on Warner contact with Russian lobbyist: It’s ‘had zero impact on our work’ MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump has declared war on our climate — we won’t let him win Stock slide bites boastful Trump, but rising wages great for GOP Millions should march on DC to defeat Trump Republicans MORE (I-Vt.) — a fact underlined by former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile’s stunning allegations.

Both parties are struggling to figure out what they stand for and represent — perhaps understandably after an election that no one saw coming, and that has few parallels in U.S. history.

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“2016 was enormously destabilizing for the establishments of both parties,” said Ryan Williams, a GOP operative and veteran of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. “Voters were angry with the leadership of both parties. They still are. It has caused massive rifts and divisions.”

Republicans at least won the election, and establishment figures such as Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 MORE (R-Ky.) have been willing to work with Trump to advance the GOP agenda.

Depressingly for the party, they’ve had little success so far.

McConnell’s gambit of blocking President Obama’s nomination of Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandAfter shutdown surrender, why should progressives ever trust Chuck Schumer again? Budowsky: A hard lesson for Dems 2017's top ten news stories MORE to the Supreme Court did allow Trump to win Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, and Trump could continue to reshape the courts for the next three years or more.

But a months-long effort to eradicate ObamaCare, which Republicans promised to do for years, has ended in failure — at least for now.

This has put enormous pressure on Republicans to secure a win on tax reform.

Such a victory is more than possible if the GOP can stay on the same page, but that hasn’t been easy.

In the Senate, the president is feuding with at least three key Republicans — Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Meghan McCain: Melania is 'my favorite Trump, by far' Kelly says Trump not likely to extend DACA deadline MORE (Ariz.), Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPentagon: War in Afghanistan will cost billion in 2018 K.T. McFarland officially withdrawn as nominee for ambassador K.T. McFarland withdraws as nominee for ambassador MORE (Tenn.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Huckabee Sanders: Dems need to decide if they 'hate' Trump 'more than they love this country' Trump spokeswoman fires back at Flake: 'His numbers are in the tank' MORE (Ariz.). All have harshly criticized Trump’s effects on their party as toxic, and none of the trio owes the president anything.

The tax debate will take place in the context of a political war on the right led by the president’s former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, who is promising to back primary challengers against most Senate Republicans.

It’s not the most promising environment to secure legislative victories.

In the minority, Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP lawmaker: Dems not standing for Trump is 'un-American' Trump called for unity — he didn’t even last a week Overnight Defense: GOP plays hardball by attaching defense funding to CR | US reportedly drawing down in Iraq | Russia, US meet arms treaty deadline | Why the military wants 6B from Congress MORE (N.Y.) have been successful in keeping their rank and file in line. This has been particularly impressive in the Senate, where two-dozen Democrats are up for reelection next year, many of them in states won by Trump.

Electoral victories have been harder to come by.

The party has lost about 1,000 state legislative seats since President Obama took office. Republicans control two-thirds of the legislative chambers across the country and 33 of the 50 governor's mansions.

Democrats suffered through a losing streak in this year’s special elections. In some ways, the party was the victim of raised expectations. The losses took place on Republican turf, but were cast as referendums on Trump’s presidency. Now there is enormous pressure to claim a victory in Virginia’s gubernatorial contest on Tuesday.



Fallout from the party’s presidential primary continues to be felt. Brazile’s new book says the DNC effectively rigged the contest against Sanders, and that she even thought of replacing Clinton at the top of the ticket with former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBiden says he would advise Trump against Mueller interview Biden on Trump's 'treason' comments: 'He's a joke' Joe Kennedy: Biden likely would have defeated Trump MORE last fall.

New DNC Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE inherited a mess, Brazile’s allegations suggest, and he has struggled so far to bring the party back.

It’s hardly surprising that Democrats would be struggling to find their voice after eight years of Obama. With the former president, there was not a question who the party’s top dog was.

Clinton’s surprise defeat has left dozens of would-be leaders vying for attention ahead of what could be a wide-open race for the 2020 nomination.

Trump’s rise has confused policymakers in both parties.

The GOP establishment chafes at Trump’s attacks on free trade, an issue where the president has much in common with Sanders. Trump is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade deals against the wishes of many in his own party — as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Trump’s foreign policy has unnerved McCain and Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has said publicly that the president risks alienating U.S. allies with this Twitter attacks on the likes of North Korea’s leader.

Just this weekend, excerpts of a new book revealed that former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush didn’t vote for Trump. The older Bush voted for Clinton and called Trump a “blowhard.”

Former Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying World Freedom Caucus wants budget reforms attached to debt limit increase Trey Gowdy announces retirement from Congress MORE (R-Ohio) stopped just short of telling Politico in a recent interview that there “is no Republican Party,” pointing to the GOP’s existential angst.

“There is [a Republican Party]. But what does it even mean?” BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying World Freedom Caucus wants budget reforms attached to debt limit increase Trey Gowdy announces retirement from Congress MORE told Politico’s Tim Alberta. “Donald Trump’s not a Republican. He’s not a Democrat. He’s a populist. He doesn’t have an ideological bone in his body.”

When asked who the leader of the GOP is, Boehner responded: “There is nobody.”

Democrats have been asking themselves who their own leader is.

Sanders, 76, often seems to be the most powerful member of the minority, but refuses to officially join the party, to the consternation of many Democrats.

Obama remains popular, but has repeatedly sent the signal that he wants to stay off the public stage to allow room for future party leaders to find their voice.

Clinton is always in the news — sometimes because of her own efforts but often due to Republicans, who have launched a series of investigations into her actions to rally their base and keep the attention on their favored opponent.

Brazile’s very public break with Clinton over the last week underlines the reality, however, that the Clinton era is over in Washington.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGovernment watchdog finds safety gaps in assisted living homes David Crosby: Shared dislike for Trump could reunite Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Dem senators tell Trump he doesn’t have ‘legal authority’ to launch preemptive strike on North Korea MORE (D-Mass.) got that message when she agreed in a CNN interview last week that, given Brazile’s revelations, the primary was rigged in Clinton’s favor.

She also pointed to Sanders’s growing influence, arguing Perez needed to bring Sanders in. “Either he's going to succeed by bringing Bernie Sanders and Bernie Sanders's representatives into this process and they're going to say ‘it's fair, it works, we all believe it,’ or he’s going to fail,” Warren said.

The gubernatorial contests in New Jersey and especially Virginia will be the next test for both parties to secure some momentum.

Then comes the midterms next year.

Democrats think they have a chance of winning back the House and are growing more confident that they can perhaps even make gains in the Senate despite an unfavorable map.

Republicans believe that if they score a victory on tax reform, it will make up for much of what happened in Trump’s first year as president.

Hanging over all of that, of course, is special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in last year’s election — including possible collusion between Trump’s camp and Moscow.

Mueller’s investigation, which now looks like it will last for some time, will make it that much tougher for either party to get over the events of 2016 for some time.