There will be many in the new Democratic majority who have a strong desire to take a wide variety of actions against Mr. Trump. There has been much in the media about Democrats moving to impeach Mr. Trump, conduct oversight hearings and of course the general undertone of resisting Mr. Trump.
In many discussions I have had with people on both sides of the aisle, I have expressed the belief that immediately after the election and for some weeks thereafter, Mr. Trump will continue to author volatile statements about the grave threats that Democrats place to American society. On the other hand, Mr. Trump has an excellent sense of how to respond to changing circumstances and the need to modify how he achieves his goals. It is not beyond the pale to assume that Mr. Trump will seek to make deals with Democrats for many of his important goals; the wall, reducing regulations, securing fair trade with China, controlling immigration and investing in infrastructure.
A majority of Americans are looking for someone to take a leadership role and move us towards positive accomplishment. Many Republicans believe that has happened under Mr. Trump pointing to the economy, the stock market and unemployment levels. If Democrats focus on infrastructure, on sensible immigration reform, and reigning in China’s trade practices, they will be, in my view, acting responsibly. We should not lose sight of how the Appropriations process can be used as a carrot or cudgel. Mr. Trump’s agenda will be greatly impacted by these spending negotiations which he keenly understands, and should be used wisely and constructively.
There will be tremendous tension between those seeking impeachment and investigations and those searching for substantive outcomes. Recent events including the slaughter at the Tree of Life Synagogue, the pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, the shootings (or attempts) at black church, calls for revolution by left leaning actors, the printing of a story in the New York Times about an assassination of President Trump, the demeaning language towards immigrants, the distasteful Kavanaugh hearings and Mr. Trump’s Twitter rantings clearly demonstrate a need to bring us out of an unhealthy place to be productive.
After Mr. Trump completes his ranting over the next several weeks, and we move into the new year with the election of leaders in both parties in the House, what will we see?
I am not suggesting that Democrats abandoned their over sight role, but a focus on impeachment that cannot be brought to fruition will look like the Kavanaugh hearings, yet again. Democrats need to think strategically to enhance their chances in 2020.
The strategy that I am proposing allows Democrats the opportunity to make sensible or positive proposals that will benefit a large swath of the American public, and if they are rejected by President Trump and Republicans in the Senate, then it will be fair to use those failures to act reasonably as political tools in the 2020 elections. On the contrary, if the news is only about impeachment and investigations, a strategic opportunity will be lost.
Mr. Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford Owens in Plattsburgh, NY and a Senior Advisor to Dentons to Washington, DC.
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