Democrats shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of confidence about the 2018 mid-term elections. While things look good at the moment, there are nearly nine months until Nov. 6. Between now and then millions of Americans will be getting higher paychecks because of what in the long run is a disastrous Republican tax bill. They won’t start seeing the repercussions, increases in their health insurance and penalties when they file their 2018 taxes, until after the election. Republicans have nine more months to lie to the American people and we saw in 2016 the public is very willing to buy into the lies.
We also can’t be assured Donald Trump and his corrupt, inept minions will continue to provide a daily dose of crazy; attacking every voter group including women, the LGBTQ+ community, African Americans and immigrants. We don’t know what the stock market will do or where interest rates will be. Or how many other holier-than-thou administration officials and Republican officeholders will be found to have beaten their wives, harassed women, hidden they are gay, dealt in human trafficking or looked at kiddie porn.
To win, the Democratic Party must accept the challenge, and embrace it, that in 2018 winners and losers will not always be decided by the positions they take on national issues. Nor by adopting 100 percent every platform plank espoused by the national party. If there is one thing we learned from the elections in Virginia, Alabama and New Jersey it is there isn’t only one set of policies or ideas that will lead to victory.
The next few weeks will determine if the Republican leadership in Congress will allow an open debate on DACA or if they lied about that too. Democrats of all persuasions and every group that supports the Dreamers must understand and accept if nothing is done the blame lies with Republicans. They can’t spend their time and energy attacking Democrats in Congress who don’t control either the committees or the agenda in either the House or the Senate. Everyone who wants a fair and decent immigration policy must place the blame for nothing being done on the liar-in-chief in the White House.
While split in some ways it has been amazing how the various factions of the Republican Party, even those that at one time could be called ‘moderate’ have all backed away from attacking Trump. They are clearly afraid by doing so they would be committing hari-kari knowing they need the 35 percent of the Republican Party that strongly backs Trump to win their own elections.
Up to now the Democratic members of Congress, for the most part, have stuck together. But the fear is the party will splinter and do what we have done before, form a circular firing squad leading to our own defeat. If we divide ourselves as Democrats we will simply be aiding the Republican Party and making our road to success that much more difficult, if not impossible.
One thing adding to the problem is the numerous Democrats already vying for the 2020 party nomination. All their PACs and committees are taking money out of the pool that should be available for candidates running in 2018. In addition they are trying to grab headlines for themselves that should be going to candidates in tight races who are running this year.
One of the things that has turned people off to politics in the United States is our never-ending presidential races. They have become four-year campaigns with the 2020 fight for the nomination having begun on Nov. 9, 2016.
Mid-term elections are always a crapshoot and often not given the attention they deserve. This year must be different. Our democracy actually hangs in the balance. We have a man in the White House who thinks nothing of giving comfort to our enemies and thinks nothing of disregarding the constitution. He surrounds himself with incompetents and those who are only too happy to bolster his ego and repeat his lies. We even have a segment of the media that willingly abets his attempts to circumvent the law and helps him cater to the worst elements in the country from the alt-right to neo-Nazis.
So every faction of the Democratic Party must for 2018 put aside attacks on each other and focus on the overriding issue: saving the nation, and the world, from what is being done to it by the man in the White House and his lackeys on Capitol Hill.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.