Editorial | Split decision

Editorial | Split decision

The out-party — Democrats this year — made the traditional gain in the off-year election of 2018 but failed to achieve the overwhelming victory it sought.

Time was that the political combat ceased when the votes were counted.

But neither President Donald Trump nor leading Democrats stopped to take a breath Wednesday before resuming the brawling that has marked the last two years.

While Trump was holding a combative news conference, a leading House Democrat — incoming Judiciary Committee Chairman Gerald Nadler of New York — was discussing plans to pursue the impeachment of new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and speculating about the multiple Trump investigations — Russia, Trump income tax returns, etc. — he and his fellow Democrats will pursue.

Here's a little advice — try to ignore the noise. Not much will come of it, except the usual Sturm und Drang.

Tuesday's election marks a return to gridlock, a circumstance in which nothing truly substantive will happen because voters opted to divide congressional power. So not much is going to get done legislatively, unless both parties work together. Cooperation between these two highly adversarial parties has been in short supply for years now.

Unlike the first two years of the Trump presidency, when Republicans held narrow majorities in both the House and Senate, Democrats will run the House and Republicans the Senate for the next two years.

Democrats did not get their much-discussed blue wave in the off-year election. But they picked up enough seats in the House to achieve a narrow majority. Democrats also picked up some important governorships, including Illinois and Wisconsin.

On the Senate side, Republicans expanded their majority by gaining three seats — at least that's what the numbers now show. GOP leaders should send a thank-you card to Democratic U.S. Senate leaders Charles Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois.

Both men so badly overplayed their hand in the Kavanaugh confirmation proceedings that they helped cost four Democratic senators — Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bill Nelson of Florida and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — their seats.

Of the Senate Democrats in Trump states who voted no on Kavanaugh, only Montana U.S. Sen. John Tester survived, and just barely.

The only Senate Democrat in a Trump state who voted yes on Kavanaugh — West Virginia's Joe Manchin — was re-elected in a relatively close race.

It is a great relief that this election year is over — the political noise and hard feelings it generated grew increasingly tiresome. The bad news, of course, is that the 2020 presidential election contest began Wednesday with multiple Democrats laying plans to publicize their candidacies and building the political networks required to win.

Twelve months from now, it will be in full, sickening swing.

In the meantime — as the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach — Americans can give thanks for a wild and woolly democratic process in which, as was stated before the election, free people make free choices. That is a blessing too often taken for granted here and too often denied in other countries.

The economy is strong. Record numbers of people are working, earning and caring for their families. Americans are a divided people, but not so divided that they cannot live with each other in the aftermath of vigorously contested elections.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion