Democrats must utilize their Midterms success


There was a blue wave, but it was no tsunami. Democrats won a majority in the U.S. House, but with continued Republican majority in the Senate, and a Republican Supreme Court. Midterm elections are often seen as a referendum on the president’s party, and with president Donald Trump’s approval ratings solidly in the 30s, Democrats have seen a surge in support, with record numbers of early voters, and voter turnout.

All across the country, Democrats have capitalized on Trump’s attacks on Medicaid to position themselves as the defenders of health care, the most important issue on voters’ minds according to various polls. Many Democrats have been strongly critical of the Trump tax cuts, which benefit primarily corperations. Democrats saw increased support in the Rust Belt, most notably in Oklahoma’s 5th District and Kansas’ third, where they flipped control.

Democrats should use this as an opportunity to not only resist Trump, but to shape their own party’s identity. It is no secret that the Democratic party has undergone an identity crisis. For the past eight years, Democrats have cast themselves as a “wide tent party” with room for many political stripes, ranging from centrist democrats like Hillary Clinton, to social democrats like Richard Ojeda and Alexandria Ocasio Cortes. With the absence of a parliamentary or multiparty system government in the United States, it is unreasonable to suggest that Democrats should have a single vision for the party, but Democrats must begin to step forward with their own message for 2020.

Also, party leadership is still too hesitant to get aggressive. Nancy Pelosi called for bipartisanship for solving America’s problems. But what good is bipartisanship when one of the parties is becoming extreme beyond reason?

Political scientists have found that both parties have become more extreme, with Republicans becoming more conservative, and Democrats more liberal. However, Republicans have gone far more to the right than Democrats have gone to the left. Ten years ago, Republicans agreed that climate change was a significant issue.

In January 2007, Bush addressed Congress saying “America’s on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less depend on oil. And these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment. And they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.”

Today, the Republican Party outright denies climate change. Former President Richard Nixon created the EPA. Trump has been disassembling it. Reasonable people can view evidence and come to different conclusions. It is not reasonable to knowingly and willingly disregard evidence altogether.

  Trump still views the midterms as victory. If the economy continues to grow, Trump could take all the credit. If the reckless deregulation catches up to us and there’s another crash, Trump will place all the blame on House Democrats.

Stretching out their necks to appease the Trump administration will backfire. Democrats should vigorously oppose all the attacks on the environment, the attacks on health care and the attacks on immigrant and minority rights. Although Congress has less control over foreign policy, Democrats should do all they can to reject Trump’s aggressiveness on the world stage.

That is not to say that Democrats should become saboteurs. Obstructing everything will not be productive for the party or country. On the contrary, they should do as much as possible to push their own agenda rather than just position themselves as the better alternative. It’s time for Democrats to become influencers, not just resisters. House Democrats must make the case for investment in clean jobs, public services and infrastructure, working with Republicans whenever possible.

The Democrats have taken steps in the right direction in developing a strong message and political identity. Time will tell if they will keep to it.