If Democrats really want to get a handle on the Senate and house again, then they need to pick their battles wisely. Even though democrats won most the popular vote in 2016, this election cycle took them through the ringer. Currently, Democrats don’t have control over the presidency, congress, or the senate, and Republicans are making this known. In the weeks since Trump’s inauguration, Congressional Republicans have been steadily repealing Obama-era legislation, getting behind the policies of President Trump, and doing all they can to assert their new unquestioned dominance.
This puts Democrats in a couple different binds. First, the Democratic base is scrambling to figure out a war plan. President Trump’s platform is essentially the antithesis to the Democratic platform, so the party leaders must formulate a plan. Democrats are in a position where they need to save face, and to defend the principles of their party, they need to put up a resistance against Trump’s new government.
For the face of the national party, unified resistance is not a bad thing. The constituents that make up the base of the Democratic Party would like nothing more than a resistance based on what they think are higher moral principles and a defense of individuals’ rights that Republicans seem to be taking away.
For the big-name democratic senators, this resistance movement isn’t a problem. But, most Democrats aren’t big names. And in the 2018 election cycle, Democrats in the senate could be in real trouble. In 2018, the Democrats of 25 seats up for reelection, compared to the Republicans’ eight. Worse yet, out of the Democrats’ 25 seats, eleven of those senates seats are up in States that voted for Trump.
This is terrible for the Democrats. Not only because if they get trounced in this election cycle they will lose their ability to filibuster in the Senate, but also a lot Democrats are going to have to run grassroots campaigns which, as of recent, have been an utter disaster for Democrats.
And there lies the Democrats’ biggest problem. While Democratic senators in “safe states” and states not up for reelection are showing their full, unrequited wrath against Trump and Congress, Democratic senators in the eleven uncertain States simply cannot commit to unrestricted political warfare.
These eleven senators need to pick their battles carefully. They cannot simply go with the flow of the Democratic leadership. This isn’t because these Senators don’t believe in the causes that the party is fighting for: it’s because these Senators’ constituents don’t. If this election showed Democrats anything, it is that their appeal in the Midwest and Rustbelt has been dwindling.
This is because, for years, states with more blue collar constituents have been feeling more and more forgotten by the Democratic party. Over the past several decades, people in the middle of the country have seen their jobs moved away, been called things like “deplorable” and “Irredeemable”, and have been seemingly forgotten by the national party time and time again.
Even if this isn’t true for the Democratic Senators in this area, just saying “we are with you” is cheap. For both their reelection and the good of the Democratic caucus, Midwest and Rustbelt Democratic Senators need to prove that they are with their constituents. These Senators need to make it known that, above all, they are on the side of the People who elected them. No matter how important party ideology is to the Senator personally, representing the will of the people is the chief goal.
More than ever, Democratic Senators need to pick their battles. As a Democratic, fighting Trumpism is important, but as an elected official, listening to what the people say is even more important. During the Partisan wars happening in Washington, it is easy to forget that many of these faceless senators are representing real people. People with problems and concerns that may have nothing to do with one party or another.
This election is important not only for the Democrats at risk but also for the Safe Democratic leaders as well. For both the Democrats in safe states and for the leaders of the Democratic party, this newfound political resistance is resting mostly on their shoulders. The safer Democrats must accept the fact that for the good of the party as a whole, some of the lesser known caucus members who are facing contested elections are going to have to defer from the party.
If Midwest and Rustbelt Democrats want to get re-elected and fight to live another day, then they need to understand the importance of picking their battles. Resistance against Trump is not a bad thing—frankly it is necessary for this new political climate—but understanding and representing the needs of their people must be their chief focus in these next two years because the people are the ones who will reelect, or remove, the resistance fighters in the Democratic party.