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 TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate 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 ClintonFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Heller embraces Trump in risky attempt to survive in November Live coverage: Cruz, O'Rourke clash in Texas debate MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Ben & Jerry’s co-founders announce effort to help 7 Dem House challengers Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states 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 RyanHow does the 25th Amendment work? Sinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act GOP super PAC drops .5 million on Nevada ad campaign MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP, Kavanaugh accuser struggle to reach deal GOP making counteroffer to Kavanaugh accuser The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins 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 GarlandFeinstein to GOP: Show some heart to Kavanaugh accuser Dem senator praises Ford opening the door to testifying Budowsky: Kavanaugh and the rights of women 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 McCainTrump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote GOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Arizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ MORE (Ariz.), Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPoll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it Ford opens door to testifying next week Police arrest nearly two dozen Kavanaugh protesters MORE (Tenn.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGrassley panel scraps Kavanaugh hearing, warns committee will vote without deal Coulter mocks Kavanaugh accuser: She'll only testify 'from a ski lift' Poll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it 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 SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation 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 BidenDems with political experience could have edge in 2020 primary, says pollster Ford taps Obama, Clinton alum to navigate Senate hearing Trump endorses Republican candidate in key NJ House race 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 BoehnerBlue wave poses governing risks for Dems Nancy Pelosi: Will she remain the ‘Face of the Franchise’? Jordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker 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 BoehnerBlue wave poses governing risks for Dems Nancy Pelosi: Will she remain the ‘Face of the Franchise’? Jordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker 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 WarrenMore Massachusetts Voters Prefer Deval Patrick for President than Elizabeth Warren Trump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 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.