Democrats must govern boldly if they want to defeat Trumpism

President Joe Biden and leading Democrats need to act boldly if they want to fend off the rise of Trumpism. (Photo credit: Creative Commons)

Last January Joe Biden was sworn in as President which, in tandem with the Senate races in Georgia, sealed Democratic control of both the White House and legislature for at least the next two years. 

The transition from the previous administration was remarkably extreme, culminating in a full-on assault on the U.S. Capitol by Trump-supporting, right-wing extremists. This ‘insurrection’ was publicly decried by Democrats and most Republicans who are concerned about appearances. 

However, if we are serious about overcoming and defeating Trumpism, we must look to the Democrats to use their majority to immediately enact sweeping, meaningful changes and improvements to the poor and working-class American experience, lest we run a serious risk of losing both the Senate and House next year, and the White House in 2024.

While many tenets of Trumpism don’t seem to be based in reality, much of their animus is centered around the belief that they are being taken advantage of by the government, that the game is rigged against them, and that Democrats are liars and hucksters who are more interested in serving wealthy elites than everyday, working Americans. 

The thing that makes it very difficult for Democrats to effectively combat this messaging is that it isn’t wrong. Whether or not the Republicans are worse is immaterial if people have no other real option in authentic representation. 

The fact is that the American experience for the poor and working class has been in a steady state of economic decline for nearly a century now, through Democratic and Republican administrations alike. As the wealth gap between the haves and the have-nots becomes wider, people’s situations become more desperate, their attitudes toward government and society in general become colder and more cynical, and eventually we find ourselves watching a man in a viking hat taking the Senate chamber. 

This is a problem that we aren’t going to be able to solve as long as both major political parties continue to ignore the needs of their constituents. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve been in this situation as a country. With the nation reeling from the Great Depression of the 1920s, Franklin Roosevelt found himself president of a country full of economically depressed, unemployed constituents who were hungry, desperate and angry. 

He responded by enacting the New Deal, which focused on relief for the poor and unemployed, overhaul and reform of the national financial system, and creating a path for the economy to recover and improve. It lifted people up, created jobs and improved the country in basically every way. 

It also set the stage for Democrats to hold onto the presidency in the next seven of nine terms, meaning that it wasn’t just good for the poor and working class; It also bolstered the influence and control of the Democratic Party. 

These same outcomes are possible right now. With control of both the White House and the legislature the Democrats are in a position to drastically overhaul and improve the American experience. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has a mandate to pass sweeping legislation to help Americans. But will she? (Photo credit: Creative Commons)

They can eliminate the filibuster, pack the Supreme Court, and bring Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico into the fold as states. They can abolish the Electoral College and gerrymandering, deliver us from the draconian health care situation we’re currently in by enacting universal health care, and create jobs while combating climate change at the same time with the Green New Deal. They can do a myriad of things that would be objective improvements to this country and would uplift almost everyone who lives here in a multitude of ways. 

This would also establish the Democrats firmly as the party of the working class. Want to know the thing about people who have full access to education and health care, who aren’t worried about putting food on the table or keeping the lights on, who are able to live with dignity and contentment, and who can look forward to the future without fear that the planet won’t be able to sustain their grandchildren? 

These people aren’t putting on viking helmets and storming government buildings.

Moderate Democrats often decry these ideas as being extreme or not realistic. Advocates for underserved Americans are often told by these people that “progress is slow” or that “change comes incrementally.” We’re told that whatever we strive for will just be undermined by the Republicans so we shouldn’t attempt to enact meaningful change. We are made to feel as if there is no way out from under the tyranny of the minority. 

Biden himself has made it clear that he thinks the Republicans are a necessary part of the process, as if it is good to have fatal impediments baked into every attempt at progress. We’re always told to wait, that this isn’t the time, and that we have to begin with compromised positions and compromise even further from there. 

But these things are only true if we allow them to be. No matter what they say, better things are possible and the Democrats are in a position right now, today, to take large sweeping strides toward realizing them for all of us. If they choose trepidation over boldness, pragmatism over progress, the wealth of a few over the needs of the many, it will be because they want to, not because they have to. 

If they choose that path, the illness that plagues our society will continue to worsen. Instead of being mitigated, Trumpism will be exacerbated and inflamed. And If we look at the precedents set by the Clinton and Obama administrations, we can extrapolate that the Democrats will almost certainly lose control of the Senate–and possibly even the House–in the midterms next year.

Meaningful, tangible change isn’t just something that Democrats should work toward for the good of their constituents. It’s something that they must work toward if they are serious about combating Trumpism and holding onto power.


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Skyler Henry
Skyler Henry is a native son of Sacramento and an ardent leftist. He has worked in varying capacities with many political organizations and campaigns and has also been known to fire off bad tweets wildly and at whim. Currently, Skyler produces and co- hosts the VOICES: River City podcast, where the Claws are always chilled and the takes are always perfect.