With Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway admitting that the sky is blue after all, Hillary Clinton’s triumph is a fait accompli. The Clinton machine may plug on, attempting to turn red states blue, stacking up a record to rival landslides past. It would be a waste of time and energy. If she does not need Arizona, Georgia or Utah to capture 270 electoral votes, she should turn her attention – and war chest – first to the Senate and then to the House. Therein lies the fate of her first term.
Piling up an electoral record would be nice, but it will have an asterisk because of her opponent. Trump was not a Republican long enough to be considered an apostate. He is an aberration. No matter how big the electoral victory, Clinton is not receiving a mandate from the voters. Her boosters will be braying, her nose-holding voters sighing with relief, and the #NoHRC contingent gnashing their teeth and engineering her downfall. Assuming that her detractors can sort themselves out well enough for concerted action.
Be assured that the detractors will be sufficient in number to defeat Clinton’s legislative agenda if they are united. That’s why the Democrats should turn energy and funding to Congressional races. Numerical control of the Senate doesn’t guarantee de facto control, due to the Senate Rules. But the Senate sets new rules when a new Congress is called into session, and the majority is critical for setting those rules. The Rules will place the Senate in a position to push through needed appointments. The Supreme Court is the most pressing concern. There are many others. Clinton will have a lot of bargaining chips. If she plays them wisely she might get what she needs, even if it is not exactly what she wants.
Prognosticators say that Democrats will not win a House majority. Given the rift in the GOP, a large plurality may be enough to build a coalition on fiscal issues. The Members and the White House must be ready to horse-trade, as it used to be done. Pork is back in fashion. If members protect their districts and trade votes to accomplish that end, everyone can go home equally unhappy. That’s good politics.
It’s not up to Hillary alone. The Republican shakeout from their Lost Weekend is still uncertain. Trump will most likely reject the party brand and drag his constituents off to a political Jonestown. The rump, what’s left of the old GOP, will have to decide if it wants to be a major party. If so, it must be willing to work with Democrats. If it chooses to continue the politics of No, it will not be a majority party in the House much longer.
HRC needs Congress, and she knows it. Let’s see if she’s smart and skilled enough to play for a working majority rather than an illusory coronation.