Heads up, GOP: Elections have consequences

Did you know Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection agency limps into 2020 cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration 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!

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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 JordanDems digging into Trump finances post-Mueller Overnight Health Care: DOJ charges doctors over illegal opioid prescriptions | Cummings accuses GOP of obstructing drug pricing probe | Sanders courts Republican voters with 'Medicare for All' | Dems probe funding of anti-abortion group Cummings accuses Oversight Republicans of obstructing drug price probe MORE (R-Ohio) and Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesTrump hits Twitter: 'They don't treat me well as a Republican' Ten post-Mueller questions that could turn the tables on Russia collusion investigators Schiff, Nunes pressed DOJ for Mueller briefing 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 SchiffOn The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery On The Money: Cain withdraws from Fed consideration | Says he didn't want 'pay cut' | Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records | Dems plot next move in Trump tax-return battle Pelosi downplays impeachment post-Mueller report MORE (D-Calif.), Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis Nadler21 questions for Robert Mueller Klobuchar on impeachment: 'I'm the jury' Where 2020 Democratic candidates stand on impeachment MORE (D-N.Y.) and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump tells House investigators 'no' White House denies Cummings's request for Stephen Miller to testify on immigration: reports Trump effort to stonewall faces thorny legal challenge MORE (D-Md.) will carry out on their committees.

What’s different? President TrumpDonald John TrumpForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Lara Trump: Merkel admitting migrants 'one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany' Financial satisfaction hits record high: survey 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 Judiciary chairman subpoenas former White House lawyer McGahn Top Judiciary Republican reviews less-redacted Mueller report Democrats renew attacks on Trump attorney general 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.