As the political hell of 2017 comes to a close, I have a few suggestions for Democrats and progressive Independents in 2018:
- in 2018, our republic hangs in the balance. We must keep our focus on this fact. Anything that takes away from an awareness of and unified response to this existential threat is a waste of time politically speaking in the year 2018.
- The chances that this Republican Congress will impeach and convict Trump are extremely low, so don’t waste too much time focusing on impeachment in 2018. Any great hope about this Republican Congress having the courage to impeach and convict Trump should have been dashed after witnessing the Republican love fest on the White House steps after the tax cuts bill was passed. Yes, we can hope for impeachment, wish for it, even sign a petition or two calling for it; but don’t spend too much energy on it, unless Mueller is fired, then when we are in new territory. If Mueller is fired, we must be on the streets in the millions – seriously. Until that time, as long as Mueller is allowed to keep investigating, don’t let impeachment be our primary focus in 2018.
- The primary focus of 2018 must be on the November 6, 2018 elections. It is imperative that Democrats take either the Senate or the House of Representatives. It would be best to take over both the Senate and the House. Much of the worst that a Trump administration could do between 2018 and 2020 could be blocked by a Democratic controlled Congress, and as the Mueller investigation proceeds, a Democratic Congress could take appropriate measures related to impeachment and conviction of the president if the evidence warrants such action.
- 2018 is not about changing Trump supporters’ minds. Let’s stay away from fantasy. 2018 is about staying focused, united, and intentional about getting every person not supporting Trumpism to be registered and voting on November 6, 2018. We have to help each other register, we have to educate each other about what is on the ballot, we have to help each other get to the polls (or learn how to use absentee ballots), and if we live in a state that has voter ID laws, then we need to help each other get those IDs. Focus on what we can do. We can overwhelm Trumpism at the ballot box. We cannot change the minds of those who are still supporting Trump. If Trump’s words and actions in 2017 did not convince to stop supporting trump, there is very little that rational arguments from a liberal friend or relative is going to do to change their minds.
- 2018 is about staying united. No matter whom you supported in 2016, do not let your hard feelings about that election get in the way of staying on task in 2018. As much as you may hate the two-party stranglehold on state and national politics, 2018 is not the year to once again fall on your ideological sword. The Supreme Court, the entire judicial system, the EPA, a livable climate, racial justice, economic justice, justice for women, and our identity as a pluralistic society are all at stake in 2018. if you were a Sanders supporter, suppress your desires to criticize Clinton, and if you are a Clinton supporter, suppress your desires to criticize Sanders. Yes, we have our differences, but wake up and smell the Trump coffee that is currently brewing and boiling over in Washington and get over it. We have to forgive each other, reconcile with one another, and fight like hell together in 2018 and 2020 to save our republic. No buts about this one. Just stop it!
- Do not vote for non-incumbent third-party candidates in 2018 or in any other year unless your state has a ranked choice voting system that allows you to vote for a third party candidate without harming your favorite or perhaps least disliked major party candidate. I hope that someday the whole country will have ranked choice voting so that we can all vote for our first choice every time and create a robust multi-party system, but until that time comes, voting for a third party candidate simply strengthens the major party that you would least like to see strengthened. Really it does. It’s just math.
- Don’t let any seat go unchallenged in 2018 or 2020. Yes, running for office is difficult and expensive, and it may seem like a waste of time to run Democrats in the districts heavily controlled by Republicans; but in 2018 and 2020 (and in every election for matter) every vote counts, and the more Democrats there are on the ballot for all offices, the more likely Democrats and progressive Independents will come to the polls in record numbers.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Democrats must not simply be the anti-Trump Party. Be the party of fairness, the party of justice, the party of compassion, the party for equal opportunity, the party for sustainability and environmental justice, the party of vision, the party for education, the party for community, the party of true religious freedom, the party for human flourishing. Be the Democratic Party – a party that cares for people, fights poverty, and protects the planet.
We can do this! We must do this! Happy New Year.