Why Democrats can’t simply impede their way again into strength

Democrats are preparing to try to stop President Trump’s agenda at all costs. Senate Democrats have voted more and more in unison against Trump’s Cabinet nominees, and now there is the even talk of an unprecedented filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. It’s what the party’s base is demanding right now.

But there is a difference between doing what feels good and what is strategically sound. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said it well this week: “You’ve got to pick which ones you’re going to fight about; not every pitch has to be swung at.”

Democrats
Image Courtesy – Stephen Wolf

To which some Democrats quickly respond: What about Republicans?

Republicans, they point out, stood firmly against most anything Barack Obama did for much of his presidency, and while they didn’t unseat him in 2012, they won back the House in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and after 2016 they’re in as powerful a position as they have ever been. Call it what you want — “obstruction” or “principled opposition” — it seems to have worked out quite well for the GOP.

But that’s not a sure sign that it will also work for Democrats.

The reason I say this is a polarization in this country favors Republicans more than Democrats, at least when it comes to Congress. Republicans have something of an inherent advantage in both the House and Senate, and polarization helps reinforce those advantages these days.

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