The “conventional wisdom” is that Republicans always march in lockstep on absolutely everything. Therefore, because that is true, it’s always possible to know what they will do on every issue.
What you need to know, however, is that “conventional wisdom” is rarely wise, and it is often incorrect. For example, there are obvious cracks in the Republicans’ strong exterior, and over the next two years, one can expect those cracks to become major fissures, if we, as progressives, do our job.
Yes, we do have a job to do, my fellow liberals. We can play a major role in the demise of the current version of the GOP. However, it will require some discipline and common sense; something we haven’t displayed very often in the past. It will require a major change in attitude and an acknowledgement that the past is not always indicative of what to expect in the future.
Yesterday, I was told by a fellow liberal that Democrats couldn’t stop the confirmation hearing for William Barr. Senate Democrats may not be able to, but that doesn’t mean WE shouldn’t try. In 2020, 22 Republicans will be up for reelection, at a time when Democrats will be making a major effort to replace either Trump or whoever has replaced him. Democrats in the Senate only need four of those 22 to join them to stop an appointment or a poorly conceived bill. It may be “too soon” to stop Barr, but we have to lose the assumption that we are powerless.
If you look closely, the lockstep nature of the current GOP is already changing. The Democratic House passed appropriations bills last week to reopen the entire government
Then, yesterday, 11 Republicans split with the party to uphold sanctions against Russians. They voted with Democrats to allow a bill to go forward that would reverse a Treasury Department decision made last month, to lift the sanctions, thus denying Trump of a major concession to Vladimir Putin. Some asshole filibustered, so it needed 60 to pass, but the message is clear; Republicans can be gotten to. For the record, all 11 are up for election in 2020. Now, this is not unprecedented; the GOP also broke with Trump over sanctions last year. However, it means cracks exist in the Republican machine.
We must stop assuming there is nothing we can do because Republicans only act a certain way. That is already starting to change, and that change will likely accelerate as we get closer to 2020.
The farther we go into the 2020 election season, the more likely it will be that the 22 Republicans who are up for election will start to feel nervous. The 50-state strategy will be in force again, and we all need to work to support every Democrat who is up for election to anything. Our only goal for 2020 is to get turnout way up again. Turnout in 2018 was the highest for a midterm in almost 50 years; if we can do that again, we can elect a Democrat as president by a landslide, gain another 30-40 seats in the House, and at least 5-10 seats in the Senate, as well as take back a lot of state legislative seats and governorships.
That’s all speculative, of course, and it depends on how we act in the next 22 months. We have to lose this Eeyore-style negativity, in which we think there is nothing we can do about anything because the GOP does everything as a bloc and that bloc is too big to stop. The Republican Party only controls about a quarter of the electorate, which means we have access to the other three-quarters. That means we have the ability to overwhelm them in every election.
Let’s take advantage of their position as a minority party, as well as the Democrats’ position as a majority party to make shit happen. As time goes on, the pressure on Republicans will become greater and greater and we can make them do things that would seem to go against their usual actions. If they confirm Barr as Attorney General, fine; then we put pressure on everyone to protect the Mueller Investigation. If we live in states with Republican Senators, we use our numbers to put the fear of God into them. We won’t win every time, but we can win a lot more often than if we don’t fight at all.
Times changed last November when our force of will got us the House and partially neutralized the Trump agenda. This is no time to stop and get back in self-destruct mode. Let’s go after these people; we outnumber them, so let’s act like it. Don’t assume we can’t get at least four Republican Senators to bend to our will on everything important. In fact, let’s assume we can. We need to squeeze these assholes and force them to drop Trump like a bad habit. And they will, once they get a glue that their adherence to GOP orthodoxy will cost them a seat.
It’s time to change the narrative. The GOP is the minority; never forget that and never stop treating them like it.
Also published on Medium.