Academics, journalists and ex-politicians are urgently trying to inspire Democrats to find an answer to this question. However, this urgency goes far beyond party lines.
Six months into Trump’s presidency and it seems the majority of the country is sincerely concerned. There is a palpable disquietude in Congress with both the President’s approach to international matters and the constant self-victimizationthat seems to be more of interest to him than fulfilling his duties as president.
And while there have been some successes within this first term, many Republicans are disillusioned entirely and do not feel adequately represented, especially in light of Trump’s quasi-alliance with the alt-right after Charlottesville. In fact, Donald Trump is a historically unpopular president, due in large part to the bills he is pushing through which disadvantage many of the low-income supporters who gave him his Presidency.
Regardless of all of this, 2016 and 2017 has taught both the electorate and Capitol Hill that nothing is predictable. Trump still has significant political support, and therefore the Democrats will need to genuinely recognize and hear the struggles of true Republicans to have any success in future elections.
Make a Plan
The midterms could give the Democrats a unique opportunity to win back certain demographics, provided they go about it in the right way. Over the last 20 midterm elections, the odds have forever been in favor of the opposition party, and no first-term president, aside from Truman, has been this unpopular ahead of midterms. Many Republican voters say they now regret voting for Trump, and likewise, many people who didn’t vote wish they would have in order to prevent this outcome. The left needs a real strategy to appeal to these voters.
The electorate trust needs to be earned back. Republicans – even those who feel Trump is not the real right – will still need to run with him to secure their seats for another term, and the Trump mid-term campaign will undoubtedly be toxic for Democrat runners. Democrats will need to channel their disbelief and anger and not be represented by it in the eyes of voters – all they need to do is hold Trump accountable.
Picking their battles will also prove crucial. Midterms will depend partly on swing districts. However, the Cook Political Report found that the number of swing seats has halved in the last two decades.
Highlight the Alignments
The disenchanted Republican voters are the obvious target to ensure a successful 2018. The left needs to come together with this piece of the right to find common ground and start working toward instilling some sanity again throughout the country. However, it seems that voters are more split along partisan lines than ever before.
Yet, an even closer look reveals something approximating a consensus on major issues such as immigration, gay rights and national security.
While the two sides hold increasingly opposite views on most subjects, almost 75 percent of Democrats and just over half of Republicans believe that immigrants are not a burden to the US and its citizens. Secondly, 80 percent of Democrats and over half of Republicans believe that military power is not the best way to guarantee peace.
Focus on Farmers
Many rural voters were previously squarely on Trump’s side, but there is now a unique opportunity for the left to come together with the disenchanted portion of this population. These are the people who thought Trump would be working for their cause, and are now realizing that he’s doing pretty much the opposite.
By identifying the concerns that these voters and the left share, we can all retain our values while creating a new wave of voters for the future — less focus on party lines and more focus on fixing our broken country.
According to Joe Maxwell, a pig farmer and former governor of Missouri, the route to winning these communities is helping them achieve economic justice. Corporate power is often regarded as the main obstacle to making a fair income for farm communities.
Exploring this issue wouldn’t require the traditionally leftist voters and representatives to venture far outside of their usual territory. For example, a relatively new union, Family Farm Action, has committed itself to holding “Big Agriculture” accountable, which they believe threatens the livelihoods of family farmers and rural America as a whole.
In the pursuit of safeguards for farm communities, Family Farm Action’s bill of rights lays out various proposed safeguards for farm communities, including rebuilding antitrust laws to regulate consolidations of Big-Ag giants, prevent collusion and encourage open competition. If the Democrats pick up where Obama left off and work to meet the needs of these communities, then 2018 may begin to look more like a win for the party.
It would be nice to see Democrats take back some power, given that we are currently operating with such a right-thinking government. Much of the left doesn’t feel heard. However, if Democrats, or even centrist-thinking representatives, are to find any success in the future, there needs to be some give and take on both sides. The sane portions of both parties need to come together and start figuring out where they agree and where actionable change can be made.
With all this turmoil, it may look like President Trump will be handing over the White House to the Democrats in the future, but there is much more that needs to be done to make sure this kind of extremism, on either side, doesn’t take root again in future elections.