The Democrats are not going to win in 2020 simply on an anti-Trump agenda. Yet, since their traumatizing defeat last November, all they have done is help grease the skids under Trump’s Titanic of incompetence as it slides into the water. They are going to have to do something else if they are going to triumph instead of going down with the ship.
They are going to have to create a real “shadow cabinet” responding to each Republican legislative proposal with one of their own. No, nothing the Democrats propose can become law, but each item of their new agenda will serve to illustrate the difference between a “new” Democratic Party” and the corrupt swamp from which arises Republican legislation today.
When health-care legislation is finally introduced into the Senate (whether or not it resembles the bill the House recently passed), the Democrats should counter it with a carefully constructed overhaul of Obamacare. When the Republican tax-code revision finally rolls out this summer and fall, the Democrats should be on hand with one of their own. As Trump’s commission on voter fraud reports on the three (gasp) instances of illegal voting in Lincoln County, the Democrats should be presenting a study of the impact of gerrymandering on the relative values of votes. As Betsy DeVos works to privatize American education, the Democrats should be publicly exploring ways of improving our system of public education. Our bridges and roads are crumbling, but there has been no action on infrastructure, though Trump has claimed it as a priority. Democrats should be putting forward a plan that details exactly what could be done for each state—for each Congressional district, for that matter—along with a clear rationale for a payment plan. Even deficit spending for infrastructure can be justified, if Democrats are willing to patiently make their argument.
As things stand right now, the Democrats are giving only one reason to support them: They are not Trump. This, the strategy of the Republicans over the last eight years against Obama, is not sufficient. Republicans are learning, to their own dismay, that this strategy that got them elected is not helping them legislate. It won’t even get the Democrats elected, given the dishonorable redistricting of the past decade. Yet, when fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee or any other of their support organizations call, all they can say is that they need money to stop Trump.
Though Trump certainly is the most horrible thing to have happened to the United States in my lifetime, just saying one is trying to stop him is not enough. That is, it is not a strategy for victory, only for fundraising. I have yet to hear of a Democratic proposal to improve Obamacare; all they are doing is crying out against the American Health Care Act. To win, they have to do more.
To create a movement with momentum enough to sweep the Republicans from control of the House of Representatives, the Democrats will have to do more than harness outrage. The Republicans have rigged the system, making it almost impossible for their Representatives to be defeated. It will not do simply to be different, to be against the Trump disaster unfolding now. For one things, we don’t know what the next 18 months will bring. Trump may rebound, but the agenda of his “unified” government will not change. Campaigning against him, then, rather than against his proposals (by presenting ones of their own), may not prove as successful for the Democrats in 2018 as it seems it might be now.
Yes, it is necessary to take advantage of the events of the moment, but it is a longer-term strategy than leads to solid success. Unless those Democratic fundraisers can convince me that the party’s officeholders and candidates are crafting solid possible legislation for fixing our nation’s problems, and doing so today, they aren’t going to get any of my money. It would just be throwing it away, for they are going to lose if they don’t change their approach–and I am not interested in helping fund another round of losses.