Sen. Ted Cruz, in an interview with ABC’s This Week on Sunday, said Republicans should not take the results of the 2016 election for granted.
“If we’re given the White House and both houses of Congress and we don’t deliver, I think there will be pitchforks and torches in the streets. And I think quite rightly,” Cruz said. “I think people are so fed up with Washington, this election was a mandate for change and the most catastrophic thing Republicans could do is go back to business as usual.”
Little chance of that, since Republicans have spent the last eight years ineffectively battling Obama’s liberal agenda. So unless the GOP leadership is secretly planning to fight President Trump at every turn, the next four years should not look like “business as usual.”
On the other hand, we shouldn’t underestimate the Republicans when it comes to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. There are more than a couple of issues that separate Trump from, say, Paul Ryan. Will we see the White House battle it out on those issues with Republicans in Congress? The GOP is singing songs of unification right now, but that doesn’t mean things are as happy as they seem.
From that perspective, Cruz is probably right when he says that people are “fed up” with Washington. Especially after this election, your average American is ready to forget about political drama for a while. There may be little appetite for another two years of gridlock, especially when the perception is that Republicans control everything. The question – even if it’s unfair – will become: Under what circumstances CAN the GOP effectively govern?
The sticking point is that no one can agree on the message this election sent to Washington. Do Trump’s voters only want the parts of his agenda that coincide with traditional conservatism? When there is a split between Trump and Republicans, where do Trump’s supporters land? Was a vote for him a vote for everything he said?
If the president-elect and his Republican Congress can’t find the right answers to these questions, Cruz’s vision of pitchforks and torches may be prophetic.