Ohio did not participate in the blue wave. If anything, the state emerged from Election Day a deeper shade of red. Across the country, the wave wasn’t all that many Democrats hoped. It does rate as substantial, the party making gains in Statehouses (even the Ohio House) and governorships. Most notably, Democrats captured the majority in the U.S. House for the first time in eight years.
The number has been repeated often: 317 of 435 districts trended toward the Democrats. In all, the party appears headed toward a pickup of as many as 37 seats. Again, Ohio saw no change, the 12-4 split in the delegation engineered by severe Republican gerrymandering. Consider that Republicans won 51 percent of the vote in the state's U.S. House races, Democrats with 46 percent.
The wish is to see the improved redistricting process deliver more competitive races in Ohio following the 2020 census.
For now, the question for House Democrats is: How will they use their majority? No doubt, many members are eager to plunge, subpoenas in hand, into the ethical failings of the Trump White House, from the questionable appointments to the president’s business dealings and whether they pose conflicts of interest and even constitutional violations. Congress has the job of oversight, something the Republican majority has neglected.
Yet Democrats must take care, allowing time for an examination driven by the facts, its authority and credibility turning on the quality of the information. There is no basis now for talking about impeachment, and there may never be. Democrats should resist such partisan excesses as Republicans pursuing Benghazi long after the facts were known and accountability had been applied.
It makes sense for Democrats to begin reviving the House Intelligence Committee look at the Russian intervention into the 2016 presidential election. Republicans delivered a farce as they maneuvered to protect the president. At the same time, Democrats have good reason not just to protect Robert Mueller, the special counsel, but to wait for him to conclude his investigation of the intervention and possible links to the Trump campaign.
Then, Democrats will have a better idea about what merits their attention and review.
In electing a Democratic majority, voters sided with the concept of checks and balances, and understandably so. The idea doesn’t involve oversight alone. House Democrats have a duty to advance policies and legislation, to show the direction they would like for the country.
They rightly made much of embracing the Affordable Care Act, especially its mandated coverage of pre-existing conditions. Republicans have backed away from their pledge to repeal the act. House Democrats have an obligation to put forward legislation that achieves the necessary repairs.
It makes sense, too, for Democrats to propose a public works bill, plus legislation that would restore the Voting Rights Act. Recall the Supreme Court struck down core provisions that won overwhelming bipartisan support when Congress renewed the law during the George W. Bush presidency.
That Bush era also saw a failed effort at comprehensive immigration reform. Such a compromise still is needed, though positions clearly have hardened. Democrats should make plain their willingness still to strike a deal, their duty to provide oversight just one part of demonstrating they know how to govern effectively.