Over the next ten years, the Democratic National Committee must be committed to two things. These two things have to take precedence over policy (which they currently don’t set), but not over candidacy. One of the most important things the Democrats must and will do is find good candidates to run against Republicans. They must recommit to that search, and stress charisma, knowledge, and experience. But they can never run to the right again (I say again because Hillary Clinton was in the center and so was her VP choice) – the Democrats have to stand their ground on the left and slowly pull the Republicans towards them as they win elections.
The two things are stressing local and state elections and the end of gerrymandering. By stressing the state and local elections, the Democrats can rediscover their roots and run effective campaigns. This is where finding good candidates will be essential. The Republicans already have a plan at the state level – they control 32 state legislatures and 33 governors. That’s another reason the Democrats have to refocus on that. Winning political battles in the future will include both of these levels.
And the Republicans have majorities in states that should be considered important by Democrats. Those states are Ohio, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. By the way, all of these states went red or were close for Trump. That’s something that can be controlled by a better Democratic presence in the state. Even Democratic bases like New York, Illinois, and Washington are fighting tight battles. That has to change if the Democrats will once again find success. It’s also a grooming ground for potential new candidates – the future of both parties comes from the state level, as proven by Kamala Harris’s rapid rise to Senator from Attorney General of California. This is where qualified, charismatic candidates come from. States are also key battlegrounds for policy – they can be both testing grounds for new policy that can be implemented on the national level (on the left, weed legalization, on the right, pro-choice restrictions) and also affect constituents more than the federal level.
Local elections help impact constituents daily lives, everything from city and town governance to education is performed on a local level. If Democrats want to end the teaching of creationism, and they should, the place to do it is local elections in the South. It’s not impossible to win these elections, like some may assume. Again, it’s about finding the right candidates. Here, the Democrats will be tempted to go to the right. But venture too far and you throw away the election. Stay on the left, even if it’s a very moderate left.
Where the Democrats have power now, they must end gerrymandering. By giving it to a nonbiased independent committee (though one selected by Democrats) they show faith in the process. Democrats also give themselves power for the future – when Democrats give states back to Republicans, which is inevitable, they won’t lose the power of gerrymandering. And Democrats can win elections in moderate districts. They have to win moderates in the general in Presidential and Senate elections.
The Democrats must assume Republicans will never do anything in the best interest of their constituents again. That is no longer how they play the game. Republicans have gotten too greedy and too obstructive to do what they’re elected to do – look at the health care battle, where only 17% of Americans approved of their plans. They were reluctant to reveal bills because they knew they would be unpopular. And yet there are people in this country who will continue to vote Republican. That’s an issue for later.
If Democrats end gerrymandering, they effectively give themselves more power. A Democrat-selected independent committee will be more likely to hand down fair districts. They won’t reduce Democrats to small urban bases and award more districts to the Republicans. They will go based off of better-looking squares with better-looking lines, maintaining the necessary objective of keeping the populace even. No more squiggles and oddly shaped districts to cut out minority areas.
Regardless of what happens over the next two years, whether the Democrats win the midterm or just keep it tight, it will be important to refocus on manageable objectives. Both of those things are manageable. It won’t be popular with state-level Democrats to give up the ability to gerrymander. But once they are reminded it is necessary to end a Republican chokehold over the House, it will be done.