Heads up, GOP: Elections have consequences

Did you know Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants 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 JordanDOJ, Commerce slam House Dems contempt vote as 'political stunt' White House blasts 'shameful and cynical' Barr, Ross contempt vote House votes to hold Trump Cabinet members Barr, Ross in contempt MORE (R-Ohio) and Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHouse passes annual intelligence bill Democrats' opposition research got exposed — this time, not by the Russians GOP consultant sued by Nunes asks for help paying legal costs 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 SchiffCourt filings show Trump, Cohen contacts amid hush money payments House passes annual intelligence bill Judge finds Stone violated gag order, blocks him from using social media MORE (D-Calif.), Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTrump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify House Democrats request briefing on Epstein, Acosta Nadler apologized after repeatedly calling Hope Hicks 'Ms. Lewandowski' at hearing MORE (D-N.Y.) and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCummings asks prosecutors about decision not to charge Trump in hush money probe DHS chief to Pelosi: Emergency border funding 'has already had an impact' Cummings tears into DHS chief for conditions at migrant border facilities MORE (D-Md.) will carry out on their committees.

What’s different? President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' 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 Collins3,100 to be released from prison under criminal justice reform law House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Trump praises GOP unity in opposing resolution condemning tweets 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.