While the next presidential election isn’t for another two years, the United States has a different, rapidly approaching, focus in mind: the midterm elections. The executive and judicial branches of the U.S. government will remain unchanged, but 2022 brings new opportunities in Congress, the people’s branch.
The Democratic Party currently holds power in the White House and a majority in the House of Representatives, but power is evenly split within the Senate. However, this is all easily subject to change, and if the Democrats want to hold onto their seats, some adjustments must be made.
The 2020 protests birthed a new form of activism and radicalism, pushing the needle for change to a political level, in unprecedented ways. While much of this momentum reflects advances that absolutely need to be made, the party must also keep an ear to the nation.
The truth is, conservative and moderate voters make up much more of the country than liberal or progressive voters, yet the party continues to push leftward, opting to double-down on already Democratic voters and alienating anyone who is in disagreement.
The Republican Party does well at capitalizing on progressive overreach, effectively driving a wedge between swing voters and the Democratic Party; slogans such as “defund the police” practically do the job for them. As the Progressive Policy Institute so wisely words it, “Most Americans want evolutionary, not revolutionary, change.”
The resurgence of inflation on the heels of the pandemic, coupled with blunders like the withdrawal from Afghanistan, left many questioning Democratic foreign and economic policy. When matched with fraught debate on issues such as widespread immigration and police reform, many are naturally repelled.
The unfortunate reality of the electoral college means that politicians must appeal to a much more conservative electorate than the country as a whole.
This is largely due to heavy gerrymandering; in this upcoming election, 90% of congressional races will only be competitive in the primaries. This means that it is almost certain which party will pick up which seat, and the only competition exists within parties, among radical and moderate candidates, for an appearance on the ballot. Without competition across party lines, there is also less of an incentive for bipartisan compromise in the name of picking up swing voters, facilitating the rise of more extremists like Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene to power.
Take Texas, for example. Prior to redistricting in 2021, the state had eight Democratic-leaning seats, 22 Republican-leaning seats, and six highly competitive seats. After redistricting, the Democrats picked up five seats and the Republicans picked up two, leaving only one of the state’s 38 congressional districts to be considered highly competitive.
Gerrymandering will likely always be an issue, as will the disadvantages of the electoral college. However, the electoral college is not going anywhere, so Democrats must learn to play the game of bipartisanship.
This begins with appeals to voters; one of the biggest flaws in the Democratic Party is the tendency to group “people of color” into a monolithic faction, with a singular political outlook. This could not be a bigger mistake.
Numbers show that 43% of Hispanics agree with Biden’s foreign policy, whereas 60% of African Americans do, contrasting the party’s frequent assumption that immigration reform is first priority for Hispanics. As 2020 exit polls demonstrated, “Differences of national origin shaped political outlooks: it was one thing to flee countries dominated by brutal right-wing dictatorships, quite another to hail from socialist societies like Cuba and Venezuela,” according to the Progressive Policy Institute.
The Hispanic vote is key in defining the purple states of Texas, Arizona, and Florida, and it’s a mistake to generalize this demographic of voters.
While the Democratic Party must reign it in in terms of progressive action, it also cannot leave Republican culture attacks unanswered; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee conducted a poll that found that GOP leads increased from 4% to 14% when politicians sidestepped social issues.
There’s a way to be assertive and forceful in response to attacks on your beliefs, without turning off half the country. Take a look at Mallory McMorrow, who responded fiercely to a fellow state senator who accused her of grooming; McMorrow is receiving support and praise for her speech from many prominent politicians, Democrats, and Republicans alike.
In the new age of the Republican Party that can say nearly anything without consequence, the Democratic Party must emerge with reason and stability. This means long-term economic plans that increase supply and labor demand; this means relying less on omnibus bills; this means instituting a pause on attacking the defense budget, which, amidst the Russia-Ukraine conflict, is not a popular idea.
As the Progressive Policy Institute sums it up, “Once again, it is in the grip of myths that block progress toward victory; [the Democratic Party] does not recognize the new realities that shape American politics; and it has barely begun to develop an agenda on cultural issues that a majority of Americans can support. This triple failure is what we call the new politics of evasion, the refusal to confront the unyielding arithmetic of electoral success.”
The Democratic Party must tackle these issues, or the political landscape might just be flipped on its head come Nov. 8, 2022.