As Vice President Mike Pence cast his “Aye” vote for Betsy DeVos, breaking the tie in the U.S. Senate on the billionaire’s confirmation for Secretary of Education, I could feel it.
The result was no surprise. Two Republican senators – Susan Collins of Maine and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski -- broke party lines, but for a week, no one else even considered budging. And, the feeling was palpable across social media.
Like air being let out of the balloon. Like a rapid heartbeat slowing to a thump, thump, thump… It was a collective hands-in-the-air, a giving-up – even if temporary.
What else can we do if we cannot convince one of 48 U.S. senators of something so blindingly obvious – that DeVos is a highly incompetent choice?
The truth is this: Legislatively, there is nothing we can do.
For Democrats, this is painfully true on much more than cabinet appointments. We might get lucky through the judicial branch in the nation’s courtrooms from time to time, but legislatively, Donald Trump and the Republican party can push through just about anything they want.
I said this the day after Trump won and I’m going to say it again, “Focus and fight.”
This simple statement does not mean to impeach Trump. It also does not mean to obstruct for the sake of obstructing, ala the Tea Party and the senate that held open a seat on the Supreme Court for a year. It doesn't mean to swing our arms, expend our energy, sap our passion.
Impeachment is not the answer right now. Why not? Pence is no better and, with the entire legislative branch at his disposal, what is accomplished? Nothing beyond pissing off, not just those who voted for Trump, but those who believe in the system.
The GOP will get fed up with Trump and his cabinet. Let the Republicans "go against the will of the people (of the electoral college.)" Once the lovefest is over and they get sick of Trump, of his twitter account, of his skirt-the-process advisory board, of Bowling Green massacres and alternative facts, they will do the dirty work of impeaching him, themselves.
I want Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell anchored to Trump until that day occurs. And, I believe it will.
What is tragic about that is people, and many of our institutions, will suffer until it happens.
When the price of that wall ($12 billion to $25 billion) meets the GOP's budget (which, as is, adds $9.7 trillion to the national debt) and Wall Street is once again rolling around unfettered in cash, the people will revolt. Then, they all go down.
Obstruction is not good for the citizens of the nation, as proven when the Republicans shut down the government in 2013. It took $24 billion out of the economy and genuinely hurt federal employees.
The Democrats under the dome need to use what little power they do have to make strong choices over what to fight and what to concede. This takes long-term planning, smart strategy and judicious use.
But, we are stuck with what the Electoral College voted for for at least two more years, most likely four. Barring a miracle, (or a disaster), the Dems will lose senate races in 2018 - look at the map. We may even lose governorships.
The silver lining is a gift of time. Here’s what we do with that gift: We keep the pressure on, and we focus on ourselves.
We focus on our message, which can’t simply be “Stop Trump.”
We focus on our candidates, on our fundraising, on a saturating PR blitz that shows citizens what the Republicans are doing wrong and we are doing right.
This is what has to keep the air in the balloon, the heart beating at a rapid rate.
This is the resistance that matters. This is how we focus and fight.
Molly Yanity, Ph.D.