After Democrat Conor Lamb staged an upset victory in the special election for Pennsylvania’s special election this past Tuesday, Republicans are right to be worried about their prospects for the 2018 midterms and the feared blue wave.
In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump won the 18th by 20-points, and for years Democrats did not even field a candidate against Republican incumbent Tim Murphy.
Last Tuesday, Lamb completed his upset victory, winning the election by a little more than 600 votes but still representing a nearly 20-point swing in party support.
What happened? Republicans did not do enough in 2017 to convince voters that they are the party that will cut through the red tape, take the political heat, and pass important legislation that will improve the lives of Americans.
They passed their tax reform legislation which will lower taxes for the majority of Americans and rolled back regulations. But they didn’t repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and they never even got to talking about infrastructure.
After passing tax reform, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Republicans accomplished pretty much everything they can without bipartisan support. And already that has led to problems with Democrats refusing to compromise on matters such as DACA.
In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, Republicans have been mostly quiet on the issue of gun control legislation, although Senator John Cornyn has been gathering support for legislation to improve background checks, there are few Republicans willing to lead the charge on improving gun safety.
Why should voters support candidates who can only pass legislation that gives them more money? Yes, having more money in your pocket is appreciated, but the millions of Americans who will be voting in the mid-terms care about immigration and guns — just to name a few.
But what about the taking care of the safety and general welfare of the Republic? If Republicans passed measures to help prevent future school shootings, and passed a DACA fix the blue wave that has been building would likely be less of a nightmare for Republicans than it will be if they do nothing.
It would be the Republicans who, without a supermajority like the Democrats had in 2009, who fixed DACA and improved gun safety. That would speak volumes to voters and would protect their majority.
Instead, Republicans have made grandiose pledges but have so far fallen down on the job blaming the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.
Sometimes promoting the general welfare requires making hand-wringing decisions, that will cost votes and will be hard to pass. And if traditions that are not codified in the Constitution, like the 60-vote threshold for legislation, are holding our elected officials back from protecting American citizens, they might have to be re-evaluated.
Sitting back on their laurels of passing tax reform and screaming about Nancy Pelosi during campaigns is not a winning strategy. Republicans have to keep moving legislation and talking about why it’s making their lives better, if they don’t they can kiss their House majority goodbye.