In my  previous piece, I made the case that Trump-Skeptical conservatives should back Republicans for U.S. Senate (except in Virginia.) In this piece, we take a look at the U.S. House.

How much of a difference does it make who controls the House of Representatives?  If one party wins the majority, then we’ll end up with a trillion dollar deficit, Obamacare won’t be repealed, Planned Parenthood will be fully funded, and a shady California politician will become Speaker of the House.

On the other hand, the Democrats could win.

Other than a tax reform bill, the GOP-controlled House has failed to pass anything significant and major problems such as the deficit have only gotten worse. While there’s a small chance Republicans might hold the House, there’s no chance that they won’t lose seats. If Republicans hold the House by losing twenty seats instead of twenty-three and end up with a 221-214 majority, we can’t expect them to actually accomplish much, given they did so little when they held a more significant majority.

At the same time, the House GOP has serious ethics troubles. Three Republican Congressmen have had to resign due to sex and sexual harassment scandals. Two other Republican Congressmen are under federal indictment.

In addition, while Senate investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election were marked by serious bi-partisanship, the investigations of the House Intelligence Committee have been nothing short of disgraceful. Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and committee Republicans not only undermined the traditional non-partisan nature of the Intelligence Committee’s work but abrogated their constitutional duty to provide oversight over the Executive branch. Instead, they chose to act as partisans and issue reports full of half-truths and downright lies.

With the House, I don’t see a good case for returning the Republicans to the Majority. But is there a good case for giving the Democrats the Majority? House Democrats would be no better on issues such as fiscal responsibility. A House Democratic majority would pass some progressive legislation but most of it would killed by the Senate, if Republicans maintain control there as expected.

The two curative effects that many Trump opponents on the Right are touting if Democrats win next Tuesday are worth examining.

Would it teach Republicans a lesson about how Trumpism harms the party’s long-term viability? Virginia has been a test case for this issue.  Coming in to the election, Republicans controlled sixty-six seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates and hoped to capture the Governor’s mansion. Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie embraced Trump rhetoric about saving Confederate monuments despite Black voters being outraged after Charlottesville and Trump’s reaction to it.  While polls showed a close race, Gillespie ended up losing by nine points and Republicans lost fifteen seats in the state’s House of Delegates on the strength of a particularly strong turnout by Black voters. The equivalent result in a U.S. House election would be Republicans losing sixty-five seats.

How did Virginia Republicans respond? By nominating Corey Stewart for the U.S. Senate, a candidate with many racist ties. If this pattern holds, should Republicans lose a lot of seats, they will double down  on the Trumpism, not back away.

Trump has said he won’t accept blame if the GOP loses the House. Don’t expect Republicans to blame him, either. The Republican base can be expected to take a, “heads I win, tails you lose” approach. If Republicans hold the House, it will be because of Trump’s brilliant leadership and tireless campaigning. If Republicans lose the House, it will be because the House didn’t back Trump enough. (Don’t ask them to explain what House Republicans should have done to better grovel before Trump.)

A Democratic win in the  House will lead to another Nancy Pelosi speakership, thus giving Trump a new arch-adversary for the new season of his reality TV that not only has a lower net favorability rating than him but is also despised by his base and willhelp keep Republicans behind his presidency. You can also expect to blame hislack of legislative accomplishments on an obstructionist House.  

I am sympathetic to the view that Trump-skeptical conservatives should back a House Democratic Majority because a Democratic House will be more likely to fulfill their constitutional duty and exercise their oversight function to hold the President and his administration accountable.

The last two years has seen Congress asleep at the wheel, refusing to follow through on many legitimate lines of inquiry. One thing that should concern us, for example, are the various conflicts involved in the President and his daughter and son-in-law maintaining ownership of their private interests while serving. A Democratic House would be more likely to exam these ethically dubious areas.

However, would they have any credibility? Americans have learned hearings set up by politicians have generally been more about politics than they have been the truth. If Trump has committed crimes, perhaps even worthy of impeachment, would House Democrats be able to not only hold hearings but to do so in a way that will be credible to the American people?

Unlikely. The Democrats have been held hostage to the far left resistance wing of their own party, which has led them to take an ill-advised course of action. House Judiciary Committee ranking Jerrold Nadler has suggested he’ll investigate Justice Kavanaugh, an idea that will delight the far left, but disgust anyone who had to deal with that lengthy process, including Dr.Ford, who wants to move on.  Based onthis statement and others like it, a House Democratic majority will use itsoversight to pander to its Trump-hating base rather than focus on an honest andcredible search for the facts.

They could make it harder to hold Trump accountable by impeaching Trump prematurely and without sufficient evidence. Such proceedings would fall apart and make Trump nigh impeachment-proof and less accountable for the rest of his time in office. While it’s technically possible to impeach a President multiple times, practically and politically, the process is so wrenching and involved, if Trump has committed or will commit an impeachable offense, Congress really has just one shot.

In addition, Democrats’ concerns about ethics are transient and not credible, given their history of ignoring unethical conductin their own ranks. Former and possibly future Speaker Nancy Pelosi sees the House’s constitutional oversight power in another light, “Subpoena power is interesting, to use it or not to use it.  It’s a great arrow to have in yourquiver in terms of negotiating on other subjects.”

What Pelosi seems to suggest is a Democratic House could use its subpoena power to blackmail Trump into bending to its will. “We might subpoena your tax returns but might be persuaded not to if you give us a billion dollars more for food stamps.” Even in the age of Trump, that’s near the top of the most corrupt things a politician has suggested publicly.

So we face a choice between the Republicans corruptly refusing to investigate Trump and the Democrats corruptly investigating Trump.

The Republicans don’t deserve to retain the majority, but the Democrats don’t deserve to win it.

That said, if you have a good House candidate from either party in your district, vote for them. There are some good House Republican candidates and at least one Democrat who is worth your support.

For example, two-term Congresswoman Mia Love (R-Utah) is a consistent conservative who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 and also was unafraid to challenge him, most notably with his attacks on Haitian immigrants. Six-term Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) is the last true pro-life Democrat in Congress. Of a group of “pro-life” Democrats who held up passage of the abortion-funding Obamacare, he was the only one who stood firm and didn’t fall for the nonsense of the Stupak Amendment. Lipinski’s Republican challenge is an actual Nazi which is an added reason to vote for Lipinski.

Voters should research their own races and vote for the best candidate rather than voting for a party. If the major party candidates are both awful,  then vote for neither of them. There is a good case to be made for an honorable abstention or voting for a third-party candidate.  Constantly voting for the lesser of two evil candidates and not demanding better have gotten us to where we are today.

Who wins the U.S. Senate will make a big difference to the near-future of America because of court nominations. As such, it makes sense to vote Republican in the Senate. The race for control of the U.S. House is the least important election of my lifetime. Whoever wins, both the House Majority and the Speaker will be awful, only in slightly different ways. The best course there is to vote for your conscience and support the best individual candidate, if you can find anyone in your district worth voting for at all.

Photo credit: Ron Cogswell (CC-By-2.0)

5 comments
  1. The author states; “Other than a tax reform bill, the GOP-controlled House has failed to pass anything significant.”

    Well, lets look at that tax reform bill:

    As noted on Congressman David Young’s website:
    “David fought for and delivered tax relief for hardworking Iowans resulting in an average tax cut of nearly $3,000 for Iowans in the Third District – for Iowa families this means paying for their child’s education, their mortgage, car payment, or just saving for a rainy day. Across Iowa, families are keeping more of their hard-earned money and businesses are investing in our communities.
    On top of the average tax cut of nearly $3,000 for Iowa families, the tax bill increases the child tax credit.
    “Businesses in the Third District, like SHAZAM, are giving bonuses to employees and creating new, high-paying jobs. MidAmerican Energy announced lower energy rates for all customers because of the tax law, and the State of Iowa saw a budget surplus of $127 million credited to the federal tax law.
    Consumer confidence and small business optimism are both at all-time highs as more people return to look for jobs and unemployment is at a historic low, Iowa families have more money to do with as they please.”
    KCCI noted: “Iowa budget officials say the state budget will end its fiscal year for 2018 with a general fund surplus of about $127 million . . . Iowa Department of Management Director Dave Roederer says Tuesday the boost came primarily from higher corporate income tax receipts, which he says was likely due to federal tax reform that created more business activity than the revenue estimators anticipated in March.”

    There is not a snowball’s chance in a blast furnace that any of this would have happened under Democratic control of the House. And extension of the tax cuts? Forget it. .To vote for Democrats in the House is to vote for an anemic, crippled economy.

    Any action on Obamacare, defunding Planned Parenthood or real border security will be only a dream if Democrats take control of the House. Progress will be bogged down by endless harassment of the President through investigations and insane impeachment proceedings. Is that what we want?

  2. “Any action on Obamacare, defunding Planned Parenthood or real border security will be only a dream if Democrats take control of the House.”

    Any action take on Obama, defunding Planned Parenthood, or real border security will only be a dream if Republicans maintain control of the House because they’re going to lose seats and did nothing on these issues. The only major difference is conservatives can feel more frustrated because the GOP will have the majority and be doing nothing with it.

    I will say that you’re right that the tax bill wouldn’t have happened had Democrats controlled the House, but that’s really not the point. We’re not holding an election that will undue the results of the 2016 House election. What will they do in 2018 other than remain fragmented and beclown themselves in the way they defend the President? Or perhaps they might give us a few more ethics scandals next year.

    Democrats may be as bad as Republicans, even worse, but for the practical lives of ordinary Americans, it doesn’t really matter who controls the House.

  3. I also want to urge people to PLEASE, PLEASE consider 3rd party and independent candidates who are running. If we could get enough 3rd party candidates in the house (AND SENATE) so that neither party could ram through legislation without appealing to either these candidates or the dreaded “other side” than that could lead to some real compromise and change. 3rd party and independent candidates would be more free to work with either side and break up this US vs THEM dynamic that keeps the two sides from working together even on stuff they agree on.

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