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Tuesday night clearly revealed the Five Stages of Democratic Grief, played out in vivid beauty on MSNBC and the rest of the networks. If you haven’t watched the supercut of the MSNBC panel on election night, you should. Since then, we’ve been watching the stages of political grief play out with our friends across the aisle.
Denial: “What wave? There’s no wave. There is no way the Republicans will increase their House majority or take the Senate. Barack Obama may have lost a few of the idiot red-state nutjobs, but he’s still remarkably popular. He killed Bin Laden! He restored America’s standing in the world! He saved Detroit! People love Obamacare. They love it. It’s so popular that every Democrat campaigned to preserve it in its current form. With Ferguson, Trayvon, immigration reform and Kim Kardashian’s endorsements, our voters are charging to the polls in record numbers. Did you see Lena Dunham’s “Turn Out for What” video? The kids love her. Bill and Hillary both went in to close these campaigns, and they’re the most popular people in America. Besides, all Republicans are tone-deaf Todd Akins and their campaign technology consists of clipboards and fax machines. We’ve got this.”
Anger: “Well, obviously, these early losses are about racism. And stupidity. I mean, science proves it. Republicans are dumber than Democrats because Neil Degrasse Tyson says so. How could anyone not understand that a rising stock market and our great economic picture is the sole doing of Barack Obama? Republicans are so stupid it hurts. Someone has to be the adult in the room, and it’s Barack Obama. Harry Reid isn’t a pinched, angry little dwarf! He’s a visionary leader! And those Koch Brothers! My God, can you imagine a more pernicious embodiment of pure evil? Those polls were skewed. The Kochotopus got to them. Clearly. Also, did I mention how much of a role racism played? It was so obvious! They weren’t voting for Joni Ernst or Cory Gardner, they were voting against the first black President.”
Bargaining: “Maybe we can still win. If we run the table tonight, we can still pull this thing off, right? Sure, Obama isn’t as popular as he was, but he can get some people turned up. I mean, we’re going to pick up a couple seats, right? Charlie Crist is really good, and so is Wendy Davis. Please, can at least one Democrat governor win? Maybe it’s better if we have a smaller, more progressive caucus in the Senate. I’ll take 30 Bernie Sanders over one Mary Landrieu. Besides, a lot of these ‘Democrats’ betrayed Barack by not campaigning with him. Even if it’s a tie in the Senate, we’ll have Biden. Everyone adores Biden, that lovable rogue! He’s looking good, too. Harry Reid is still really persuasive, and even in the minority he can use the filibuster to…oh, wait…”
Depression: “This is the end of the grand liberal experiment. Cancel the midterms. We’re doomed. The fascists won. Jesus take the wheel, because soon Lena Dunham will be in an internment breeding camp, the Klan will be marching in the streets, and 30-foot statues of the Koch Brothers will be mandatory on every corner. Even Hillary can’t save us. I’m so down, not even seven minutes of watching John Oliver totally destroy The TeaThuglican Takeover can get me off the couch. Ready for Hillary? Colbert’s last show is coming soon, and then where will I get my news? I’m ready to sleep for another 20 hours, eat a bucket of soy gelato and grande Xanax-wheatgrass smoothie. All those DCCC emails were right; we are doomed.
Now, you might be expecting me to wrap up with a semi-clever riff on the “Acceptance” phase of political grief. Not so much. Democrats will never accept that they lost the Senate. They’re already pre-gaming their strategy to disrupt the Senate and paralyze our coming majority. The President’s remarkably dense and stubborn press conference yesterday tells you everything you need to know; they’re not going to compromise. They’re going to fight us until the last dog dies.
Thus far, Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader-elect McConnell have been pitch perfect in their tone. Firm, calm, polite. Democrats and the media are screaming for us to roll over and “get things done for the country,” by which they mean, “Pass Obama’s agenda without modification, objection, or scrutiny.”
This is why I’m worried. The Senate Comity Virus effects Republican rubes in bumbling, just-off-the-pumpkin-truck way. Reid, Schumer, et al., will go to the softer Republicans infected with the Senate Comity Virus (symptoms many include seeking media approval, lobbyist-driven bipartisan compromise, and death) and oil them up. “We need to work together.” “This is for the country.” “We need to govern.” And like suckers, a lot of Members will take that bait.
Here’s a piece of advice for the incoming Senate and House Republicans: Emulate McConnell from Wednesday. Smile politely at the camera, and talk about bipartisan comity. Then, shove the knife in to the hilt. The game D.C.’s Democrat-media-lobbyist complex is playing is to trick you into rolling over in the name of compromise and “getting stuff done” with the premise that if you play nicely, the voters will reward you in 2016. You’d be a fool to take that bait. Twenty-eight Democrats are gone from the Senate because they “got it done” with Obamacare. Despite dire predictions that if we didn’t do an immigration bill in 2013 Hispanics would destroy us at the polls, here we are. Play your game, not theirs.
Harry Reid and the Democrats dealt in such bad faith for so long, anyone who makes a deal with Reid in the minority is a damned fool. Display for bipartisan cooperation in the same spirit Reid did: in absolutely no way whatsoever. He was brutal in his exercise of the power and prerogatives of the Majority Leader, and Mitch McConnell must do the same.
After praising Reid’s hardball, screw-the-GOP tactics, the media, as they always do when we’re in power, suddenly can’t get enough of bipartisan comity and cooperation. Expect a flood of stories about how Republicans are doomed (doomed, I tell you!) if they don’t pass everything Obama wants and split the baby down the middle with Reid at every turn. It’s a lie, and only a sucker would believe it.
The next two years of Obama are consequential, and dangerous. Keep a level tone, a calm affect, and never, ever let them win. Not once. Not ever. Do we want to be strong going into 2016? Then show strength. Control the agenda, or Barack Obama will. Victory matters, and we have one in hand. Before today’s White House meeting, I would have counseled Boehner and McConnell to say two words to the President: “We won.”