5 reasons it’s going to be much harder to win the House than you can imagine
How would you act if you knew this could be the free last election you could ever vote in?
If you think that question reeks of ridiculous paranoia, think about what happened this week.
Trump held his first state dinner as president and did not invite one Democratic member of Congress. Only the inclusion of one Democrat — John Bel Edwards, the governor Louisiana — gave a nod to the tradition of making these taxpayer-funded events a bipartisan affair. It’s one way we say to the world that we’re not a bunch of fascists. And though it’s a thing of little immediate consequence, what was more important is that Trump’s nudge toward tyranny was met by no resistance from elected Republicans.
The GOP has been in a full purge of its dissident voices since Trump’s election, marked by little things like Ronna McDaniel abandoning her middle name of “Romney” at Trump’s request and huge things Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell doing almost everything they can to make sure the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia is obstructed and constantly on the verge of destruction.
Notably, elected Republican leaders also were silent again when Trump again vowed to crack down on the Justice Department’s ability to apply the rule of law of him on television.
We may not be on the immediate verge of one-party rule, but we’re certainly closer than we’ve been in our lifetime. Even during the massive Democratic dominance of the 30s and 40s was never marked by bald attempts to invent reasons to suppress votes based on conspiracy theories trumpeted by the president of the United States nor an coordinated attempt to destroy the media and apply the rule of law only to one party. Even Roosevelt’s “court packing” scheme at the height of his powers was stunted.
If you don’t think we’re on the verge of an election that could change everything, imagine the GOP gets away with the blatant coverup that the House Intelligence Committee has engineered as an attempt to aid the unrelenting obstruction in coming out of the White House. Just the ridiculous spectacle of them releasing a report denying a Trump/Russia conspiracy, that happened in plain sight, without interviewing key witnesses should be enough to make you shudder.
And if that doesn’t have you shivering, here are five reasons it’s going to be much harder to win the House than you can imagine.
- Don’t think Republicans can lose the popular vote by about 10 percent and keep the House? That’s exactly what happened in Virginia in 2017.
Special elections are showing much better results for Democrats than the generic ballot. But let’s not forget about Virginia 2017, the only regular election we’ve seen in a swing-ish state since Trump’s election. It was an amazing success story and a cautionary tale. Democrats took in 53.17% of the popular vote and Republicans 43.76% and they still control the Virginia House of Delegates based on a coin flip. There gerrymandering is built to withstand democracy as we know it. That could easily happen with the U.S. House of Representatives.
- We tried optimism.
In 2016, our misunderstanding of probability, whiteness and misogyny generally caused us to overlook how the fundamentals and the machinery of voter suppression made a Trump win not only possible but likely. In 2018, the fundamentals are on our side but we’ve done almost nothing to restore the damage that has been done to our democracy through disenfranchisement and voter suppression. Optimism did nothing for me in 2016. In 2018, I’m sticking with eternal vigilance.
- We need 24 House seats while we’re defending 25 U.S. Senate seats.
Republican control of the Senate is transforming our judiciary for the worse at a breakneck speed. We need to take the Senate back. But we also face one of the toughest Senate maps in recent memory, with 10 of the 25 Senate seats in states Trump won 2016. As much as we hope a wave expands the map into the 24 districts we need to win the House, we also have fight just keep the GOP from expanding a Senate majority that will result in appointments even worse than Betsy DeVos and Neil Gorsuch. And, yes, this is possible.
- Never doubt the power of the right wing and the GOP.
Peace in the Korean peninsula. War in Iran. Terror in the homeland. Trillions in tax cuts resulting in billions in campaign donations. A government that sees preserving its power as its chief goal. Russian hacking. Mike Pence campaigning across the country like a popular president building infrastructure and capacity Democrats probably still can’t match. And there’s the still powerful urges of whiteness and misogyny that Trump and GOP will deploy relentlessly. We can’t imagine that this will get easier as they get more desperate.
- Chris Savage is having surgery.
Our pal @Eclectablog is undergoing serious invasive surgery in May and will be out of commission for weeks. I add this to our list because Chris is the kind of dude who devotes and volunteers his life to electing Democrats, in addition to his full-time job. And it’s a reminder that nothing is promised and we all have an obligation to tend to our own care first. So those who have the capacity and resources need to give all we can when we can.
So what should we be doing?
I propose to committing to a few candidates in swing districts and then doing all you can to help win. I’m picking one in the House and one in the Senate, both nationally and in my state. Then set up reoccurring donations. If you can’t give or volunteer, just commit to blasting their messages out whenever you’re inspired. (Ideally whenever you feel the urge to retweet Trump, you’ll share a positive message instead.)
And if you want to do more, we can use your help to cover the issues you care most about and so often get missed by the corporate press.
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[Image by the great Anne Savage.]