The day after the midterm election, the Pentagon dropped the name “Operation Faithful Patriot” for deployment of troops to the Mexican border in response to immigrants.

Given this was not a combat mission and the name likely made military staff cringe, the deployment now will be described with language such as “border support,”

But “Operation Faithful Patriot” sounds very much like an over-the-top proclamation from the president, who sees immigrants as invaders.

Immigration and other issues front-loaded the midterm elections with predictions of a Trump backlash.

The backlash could have been predicted anyway because of what we know about midterms.

On average, the party of the sitting president loses ground in midterm elections.

Two years into his first term, President Bill Clinton watched 1994 midterm voters give the GOP 54 new seats in the House, eight seats in the Senate and 10 governor seats previously held by Democrats. The flip was described by one analyst as a “bloodbath,” and it came four years before the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

In 2010, first-term president Barack Obama saw Democrats lose 63 seats in the House and called it a “shellacking.”

This year followed the same pattern, not quite as severe as the Clinton and Obama examples. The media declared a blue wave as Democrats took the House majority with a net gain of at least 33 seats. But it looks like Republicans will retain their Senate majority. Democrats flipped seven governor seats to blue but Republicans still hold a nationwide edge.

Will Democrats utilize House majority to productively mediate excesses of the Trump administration? Will they entrench, armor up and go head-hunting? Where do we set the dials to produce the so-called check-and-balance?

Right now the country’s dials are set at “deeply divided” and “zero-sum game.” In the Ted Cruz-Beto O’Rourke Senate race in Texas, Americans outside of the Lone Star State probably saw it differently than voters inside Texas, who favored Cruz by 2.6 percent.

Last week a poll showed that native-born Texans preferred O’Rourke, either a comforting ointment or a raging lie. I don’t think Democrats, or Americans for that matter, want to start thinking of voters as native-born and outsiders. Or maybe they do.

Commentator David Frum wrote in The Atlantic that if O’Rourke had won, it may have led to a doomed 2020 presidential run.

“Obama was no Beto — which is why Obama actually won his U.S. Senate race in 2004,” Frum wrote.

In 2017 O’Rourke and Republican William Hurd, both congressmen from Texas, live-streamed their road trip to Washington. Upon reaching the capital, Hurd signed on to an O’Rourke’s bill and O’Rourke signed on to Hurd’s bill. They were awarded the 2018 Prize for Civility in Public Life. In uncivil times, they got a prize for getting along.

If we exchange head-hunting for civility, our leaders will have no choice but to follow and we can again make civility prizes unnecessary.

Frum said it’s time for our heads, not our hearts, to lead.

“If 2018 offered a promise of at least some restraint on the Trump presidency, it also yielded a reminder of the hardest facts of American life and politics,” Frum wrote. “Be guided by that reminder — the struggle for liberal democracy is too real and too dangerous for hearts undirected by heads.”

Jeff Dankert can be reached at (815) 220-6977 or Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaSalle.


General assignment reporter assigned to city of La Salle and La Salle high school and elementary school districts. He can be reached at (815) 220-6977 or
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