We who oppose and fear Donald Trump are transfixed by his every move and appalled by his every appointment. This is understandable. For the past month, my news feed has been a deluge of horror stories about Trump’s words and actions. From his White House appointments to his frequent Twitter rants, Trump has dominated our national imagination since November 8.
It is important, if depressing, to keep track of what Trump is up to. But for him to be the subject of virtually every headline in the news today is dangerous. We need to get moving, and fast.
Calls for resistance and vigilance are important. Initiatives to create sanctuary cities and universities are crucial. But among the hundreds of stories and editorials that have appeared since the election, how many have mentioned the date November 6, 2018? On that day, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 33 seats in the Senate, and 39 governorships across the country are up for grabs.
A Democratic victory in 2018 would send a powerful message that Trump does not represent most Americans.
But the stakes of November 6, 2018, are even greater than the numbers convey. A Democratic victory in 2018 would send a powerful message that Trump does not represent most Americans. On the other hand, a Democratic defeat in 2018, close on the heels of the party’s loss in the 2016 general election, would enhance Trump’s prestige and further consolidate his power.
A Democratic victory in the 2018 midterm election is hardly unthinkable. The Republicans orchestrated such a reversal in 1994, two years after the election of Bill Clinton. Democrats managed it in 2006: two years after the reelection of George W. Bush, they regained the House, the Senate, and a majority of state governorships and legislatures.
A reversal on that scale will take a lot of work. It will require a fresh and brilliant strategy. It will require new leadership in the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Above all it will require us to roll up our sleeves and start working actively with—and against—the Democratic Party.
Here are five simple things each of us can do right now:
- Look up the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of our local Democratic Party leaders. Write or call them. Go to a meeting. Volunteer to help.
- Express our frustration with the Democratic Party’s failure to get out the vote in crucial precincts in 2016.
- In “safe” states, ask what our local Democratic Party organizations can do to assist an embattled Democratic ward, town, or county in a swing state.
- Keep hammering away at the DNC, demanding that it start taking care of business—now. Consider signing this petition or others like it.
- Understand the power structure of the Democratic Party. This information is available through the DNC’s Office of the Secretary. It will give us a sense of whom to contact with our views, where to volunteer our services, and where to apply direct pressure.
If we are to win, we also have to transform the DNC.
The Democratic Party’s leadership needs to change. We have seen how it treated Bernie Sanders. We have seen how it misread the vote in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Now—as DNC leaders bombard us with donation requests without the slightest mea culpa or the barest glimmer of a new strategy—it is time to pressure them.
In the aftermath of this election, Bernie Sanders said, “I’m sure a lot of you have some feelings about the Democratic National Committee. The truth is that it is an important entity to build, support, and maintain if we are to have the chance to organize and win in the coming elections while Trump is president.” The truth is that to “build, support, and maintain” is not enough. If we are to win, we also have to transform the DNC.
Yes, we should keep an eye on Trump. Yes, we should keep resisting him. But we should not let the spectacle of his present triumph distract us from the important work of planning and achieving victory in 2018.
Yes, we can.