A Long Memory & Sustained Outrage

The two part plan to beat back Trumpism.

Mohamed Hassan/Pixaby.

We must remember what these past four years were like, even as Trump’s reign of terror slowly dissipates. The GOP will move on from Trump. In fact, the process is already underway.

Soon, Republicans will pretend the Trump years never happened. The establishment squeezed Trump for tax cuts and right-wing judges. In the lame duck period, and having used him for their agenda, they discarded him and forged ahead.

They are counting on us to forget. They are betting on it. Tax cuts for the wealthiest among us, kicking millions of Americans off healthcare — everything. Not to mention the blatant corruption, Twitter insults, and other remnants of Trump’s political malfeasance.

The antidote is simple. We must hold those responsible for Trump’s behavior accountable. And to accomplish this, Americans need two things — a long memory and sustained outrage.

While the solution is straightforward, the implementation may be difficult. After the 2008 election, Democrats thoroughly controlled both Houses of Congress — as they should have. Two presidential terms of GOP control ushered in mounting debt, unpopular foreign wars, and an economic recession unparalleled in modern times. There was outrage, and it translated into Democratic victories at the ballot box.

But that outrage wasn’t sustained. Just one electoral cycle later, in 2010, a satiated Democratic base stayed home during the midterms, and Republicans quickly recaptured the lower chamber as the economic ruin they oversaw still raged in the background.

There is another problem as well. Republicans, despite the long form think pieces alleging otherwise, will be unified. There is no more powerful, unifying force in American politics than existing in the political minority. Think back to 2017 — were the progressive and moderate factions of the Democratic Party waging open war? Or were they unified in stopping Trump’s agenda of corporate tax cuts, eliminating Obamacare, and stopping right-wing judges?

Under the same principle, Republicans will be unified in opposition to the Biden agenda. President Biden has already announced about two dozen executive actions, including reversing the Trump transgender military ban, rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, throwing out the Muslim travel ban, and fortifying DACA. Whether you are of the trickle down, country club going or nationalistic, anti political correctness ilk, resisting a liberal agenda is a shared interest. For the GOP, there are bigger fish to fry.

The Republican divisions are real, but the victors of their branding war will be announced at a later date. For now, stopping Stalinesque Communism (or whatever) is more important.

But now for some good news for the Democrats. Trump increased his Senate majority in his first (and only) midterm election, despite losing the House on the same ballot. So it is possible, and recent history is the most likely form of history to repeat itself.

There is evidence that there is still energy among the left. Georgia comes to mind, where even though Biden was officially President-elect, the Democratic base cranked out two victories, delivering the Senate to now Majority Leader Schumer.

Second, for the first time I can ever remember, the Senate map actually looks…good? for Democrats. The Senate, of course, skews conservative. There are more blue “people” in this wonderful country of ours, but there are more red states. (There is also one too many Dakotas for my liking.)

The current Senate is split evenly, 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. But the states that Democrats control represent about 41 million more people than the Republican states.

Makes sense.

Back to the 2022 Senate map. The most vulnerable Democrats are defending seats in Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia. All three senators, with the added benefit of incumbency, are in states that are demographically trending towards the Democrats. Vigilance is necessary, but optimism is permitted.

Now let’s talk offense. Republicans are defending seats in Iowa, Florida, and Wisconsin. They may be favored in these races, but these states aren’t exactly Wyoming, either. Additionally, there are three open seats that are currently held by Republicans — Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Ohio. These three states are also tantalizing, as the GOP nominee will not benefit from incumbency. Biden won Pennsylvania, came close in North Carolina, and Ohio’s other senator is already a Democrat, meaning it’s possible, albeit challenging.

The obstacles ahead of us are very real. But, should we fail, the reality would be harsh. What’s needed is a long memory and sustained outrage. Don’t let that anger towards Trump dry up. Remember it, harness it.

It’ll come in handy next fall.

political science researcher. former valedictorian. reader/writer. host of “Politics Mostly” podcast.

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