Heads up, GOP: Elections have consequences

Did you know Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress Juan Williams: America needs radical solutions MORE (R-Ky.) was an aspiring comedian? I didn’t until I read his opinion piece on Foxnews.com. 

The man who told the National Journal in 2010 that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president” is having a hard time coping with his party’s new reality.

McConnell wants Democrat friends in the legislative sandbox. We can collaborate on targeting the opioid epidemic, defense funding and infrastructure, he wrote. How exciting!


Shellacking doesn’t feel good. Believe me, I know. But the key difference between 2010, when Democrats lost more than 60 seats, and last week’s election is that — and this isn’t a good thing — we’re all more cynical and cutthroat.

Democrats’ patience for being told by the opposition party that we need to work together in the nation’s interest, after years of obstruction and dirty tricks, is running thin. And for good reason. R.I.P., Merrick Garland’s nomination.

We know that the American people have given us an opportunity to show that Democrats can do two things at once: Pass legislation to help everyday Americans, and act as a check on this reckless administration.

Indeed, the recklessness of this administration is central to the Democrats’ victory. On every issue but managing the economy (which was the third most important issue to voters, behind health care and immigration), Democrats were favored. Trump’s approval rating was dismal on Election Day and continues to be. More than half of Americans think Trump tried to interfere with the Mueller probe and it amounted to obstruction of justice. They also believe he’s abusing his power.  

Against this backdrop, the incessant requests for bipartisanship fall on deaf ears. We weren’t hired to do the GOP’s bidding and there are very real issues worthy of investigating, including but not limited to former FBI Director Jim Comey’s firing, Cabinet secretaries’ misuse of travel and office funds, Trump’s family separation policy, the president’s tax returns and family businesses.

After more than 60 blocked subpoenas in the last two years, Democrats want their questions answered. It’s also worth mentioning that Mitch McConnell is already back to blocking bipartisan votes such as the one to protect the Mueller investigation

Democrats will not forgo their work as Republicans have for the past two years, wherein they opted to let partisans such as Reps. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanWhite House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration Rod Rosenstein’s final insult to Congress: Farewell time for reporters but not testimony House conservatives blast border deal, push Trump to use executive power MORE (R-Ohio) and Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears ‘Fox & Friends’ host asks if McCabe opening FBI probe into Trump was attempt to ‘overthrow government’ Nunes says GOP lawmakers looking through Russia transcripts, will make DOJ referrals MORE (R-Calif.) run wild with their conspiracy theories while the administration carries on, abusing power.

It follows that the Republican narrative that any attempt at oversight is rooted in blind partisanship and a vendetta against Trump — which they sought to establish in the weeks leading up to the election and couple of days afterwards — is pretty rich.  

That said, if you’re paying attention, you will have noticed that things have changed markedly. Today we hear about the importance of working together from Sen. McConnell and the Republican National Committee (RNC) and very little about these “witch hunts” that Reps. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffWhite House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration Schiff: Evidence of collusion between Trump campaign, Russia 'pretty compelling' Schiff: 'Hard to imagine a poorer case' than Trump's on emergency declaration MORE (D-Calif.), Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration Omar apologizes after Dem leaders blast tweets as 'anti-Semitic' Former senior FBI official calls Whitaker hearing ‘disgraceful’ MORE (D-N.Y.) and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsHouse chairman: Trump lawyers may have given false info about Cohen payments Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment Rule change sharpens Dem investigations into Trump MORE (D-Md.) will carry out on their committees.

What’s different? President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installed Matthew Whitaker in an acting role.

The stakes are raised again, just like they were when the president fired Comey. Republicans are on the back foot.

Take Congressman Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsHouse panel advances bill to expand background checks for gun sales House lawmakers roll out bill to make court records free Jewish advocacy group calls on Omar to apologize after 'stunningly anti-Semitic' tweet MORE (R-Ga.), one of the most bipartisan members of the House Judiciary Committee. Collins traditionally has prided himself on working across the aisle; his recent examples of collaboration with Democrats are music licensing legislation and prison reform. Come Nov. 7, the tone of his tweets changed: “A House majority doesn’t give liberals license to chase political vendettas at deep cost to Americans…” and “Looks like Jerry Nadler is taking his plans to be the Architect of Impeachment public,” he tweeted.

The next we heard from Collins, Sessions had been fired and he was back to “Bipartisan Doug.”

From my own experience, the on-air debates I’ve had in the past few days have a noticeably different tone. The duration of a recent cable news segment with the spokeswoman for the RNC was about collaboration between the two parties. She and I meet regularly in TV land, and I can tell you the tone was different. No flame throwing. Reconciliation, just like Majority Leader McConnell wants it.

What Trump has done actually is scaring his own party out of its talking points.  

That only bolsters the case for Democrats to dig as deeply as they need to, in order to ensure we get to the truth. We must pass legislation along the way, but legitimate oversight is needed more than ever.  

Jessica Tarlov is head of research at Bustle Digital Group and a Fox News contributor. She earned her Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in political science. Follow her on Twitter @JessicaTarlov.