Democrats must prove they are worthy of their House majority

For the first time since 2011, the Democrats took control of the House thanks to their midterm victory. The election of Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Fox’s Wallace to Pence: Is government shutdown all about ‘leverage?' Former House Republican: Trump will lose the presidency if he backs away from border security MORE as Speaker of the House continues her legacy as the first woman to hold this leadership position in our history. She is the first Speaker of the House in more than half a century to lose the majority, not be pushed out by her party shortly thereafter, and then to ultimately regain this top position years later.

Despite a movement led by a number of Democrats in the House, such as Seth MoultonSeth Wilbur MoultonThe Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress How Pelosi is punishing some critics while rewarding others Moulton to visit New Hampshire amid 2020 speculation MORE and Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanHow Pelosi is punishing some critics while rewarding others Dem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King McCarthy rejects idea of censuring Steve King MORE, to oust her as the leader, Speaker Pelosi once again showed her political prowess by not only crushing any dissent, but also by receiving votes from both Moulton and Ryan. With the government entering the third week of its shutdown, numerous departures from the Trump administration, and the beginning of the 2020 presidential race, Americans are looking for the party that they can trust going forward.

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The Democrats have an opportunity before them to demonstrate that they are the party of leadership, the party of pragmatism, and the party of strength. Ryan has underscored the importance of the Democrats exhibiting strong leadership ahead of 2020. In a statement about the party retaking the House, Ryan said President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris after announcing presidential run says her 'highest priority' is protecting Mueller probe A wall to separate us from reason Sarah Sanders sparks social media backlash after saying MLK ‘gave his life’ MORE is “worried about the investigation that is breathing down his neck,” adding that “his only goal is to appeal to Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and Rush Limbaugh.”

Ultimately, given that sole mission of President Trump seems to be trying to protect his dwindling base from abandoning him, the Democrats have a tremendous opportunity to make gains with moderate voters who feel that that his priorities do not line up with their own. As Speaker Pelosi reclaims the gavel in the House, the nation will be closely watching for her first few legislative moves. Those steps will include reopening the government and outlining the policy priorities for the Democrats in the 116th Congress.

There is certainly a need for strong leadership that contrasts with the style exhibited by the President Trump. However, Speaker Pelosi cannot make the mistake of being an obstructionist. Voters across the country are frustrated with Washington. They want solutions, not shutdowns. Thus, if Speaker Pelosi takes a card from Senator Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Former House Republican: Trump will lose the presidency if he backs away from border security Pence quotes MLK in pitch for Trump's immigration proposal MORE and attempts to block everything the Republicans propose, then Democrats running in 2020 will not be able to paint themselves as dealmakers who are able to navigate politics, and voters will only view them as adding to the problem. What we need now is the ability to find common ground for solutions.

I urge Speaker Pelosi to focus on issues that all Americans face, including fixing infrastructure, investing in schools, and bringing about immigration reform. The fact that there are over 10 million undocumented people in this country is a serious problem, and one that needs to be addressed by the legislature. There is a pressing need for reform that does not involve mass deportation or sweeping asylum bans. I implore President Trump to work with the Democrats to find bipartisan solutions that will move the country forward. Compromise is possible, as shown by the historic passage of criminal justice reform, which received bipartisan support.

To the lawmakers who voted for those other than the two major party candidates for Speaker of the House, I ask that you use your willingness to dissent to work across the aisle and find solutions that work for both parties and, moreover, that work for the Americans who put you in office. If the Democrats hope to retake the White House in 2020, they must embrace compromise and work with the Republicans, not against them.

Americans are looking to the Democrats to prove that they are worthy of retaking the White House and, ultimately, are worthy of the House majority handed to them. It is time for the Democrats to demonstrate that they are the the party of compromise, party of progress, and the party of promise.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. A longtime political consultant, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books, including “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence.”