Democratic victories in congressional elections across the U.S. Tuesday have instantly created a new political dynamic in Washington. The country will surely be better off with at least one house of Congress finally willing to exercise oversight of the executive branch. To put their new majority to best use, Democrats will now need to set careful priorities.
Their new House caucus is not just larger, but also broader - more female, more diverse, and encompassing a political range from moderate to Democratic Socialist. Yet finding common ground needn’t be difficult. Donald Trump remains president. Blunting his assaults on democratic rule of law while resuscitating ethical behavior can easily be agreed a top priority.
Democrats should also work together to set a new tone in Congress, where polarization has grown into a national weakness.
Some may be tempted to exact revenge for the Republican majority’s refusal to reach across the aisle. That would be a mistake.
In controlling the agenda, the new Democratic majority will be able to rebuild the House of Representatives’ capacity to govern. Already high on the Democratic legislative agenda is election reform. A House resolution sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland, backed by party leaders and dozens of Democratic House members, calls for ending partisan redistricting, enacting national automatic voter registration, restoring the Voting Rights Act (which was hobbled by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling), safeguarding election systems, and expanding and strengthening ethics laws covering both Congress and the executive.
The nation also desperately needs a resolution on immigration reform.
And, new House investigations of the executive branch are inevitable; proper oversight requires them.
If Democrats can demonstrate their ability to wield power responsibly, they’ll make a convincing case that voters should give them more of it in 2020.