But Democrats must resist the urge to boast that they have saved the country from Trumpism. The country might have earned a reprieve, but much work is left to be done. Democrats must use the next two years to make progress on three fronts.
First, they must seek a breakthrough on voting reform. In-person early voting and mail-in voting proved a smashing success. More than 47 million people took advantage of these options in the midterms without difficulty. Efforts to allow voters to “cure” ballots, for example, helped to ensure that thousands of ballots in Nevada were counted.
These new voting habits were so effective that Republicans are now grumbling that they, too, must push for more accessible early voting. Democrats should seize on this and negotiate legislation that would, for example, increase the period of time that voters can cast early ballots or eliminate requirements for excuses to vote by mail. They should also push to allow election officials to process ballots before election day. Democrats might be able to coax Republicans into a deal by offering a requirement that mail-in votes must arrive by Election Day, thereby eliminating the long waits for ballots postmarked on Election Day but arriving long after.
Follow Jennifer Rubin‘s opinionsFollow
Second, while Democrats should resist the urge to “meddle” in GOP primaries, they should speak out to educate Republican voters that election denial is a losing proposition. Democrats should not be shy in pointing out how many election deniers lost, even in red states. This will be essential in the 2024 election cycle, which will almost certainly feature at least a few election deniers, both in the presidential primaries and House, Senate and gubernatorial races.
In other words, now is the time to amplify the practical argument for Republicans to choose democracy in moving forward for their party. Even if the need to respect the will of voters doesn’t move them, the prospect of continuing to lose elections should. Ultimately, the choice will rest with Republican voters, but it behooves the media, pundits and voters of all stripes to reiterate the indisputable fact that election deniers cost the party victory in a wide array of races.
Lastly, Democrats cannot ignore House losses in New York and lost opportunities in California. They dismiss at their peril the closeness of New York’s gubernatorial election and Los Angeles’s mayoral race. A great number of voters, regardless of party, feel a sense of chaos, lawlessness and turmoil. Some of this is residue of the pandemic and the strain it put on families. Some of it is because of the uptick in crime (not nearly at the magnitude that right-wing media presents, but significant nevertheless) and an overwhelmed border.
As the Biden administration wrestles inflation and building the economy, Democrats must be cognizant of basic issues of personal security. Biden previously rolled out an impressive anti-crime agenda. That’s worth doubling down on, along with enhanced punishment for threats and attacks to public officials.
Democrats would also be making a mistake by dismissing border concerns as purely rooted in xenophobia. They can package enhanced border security and fixes to the asylum system (including expansion of immigration courts) with economic-focused legal immigration reforms to keep STEM foreign students in the United States and attract others that our economy will need as we expand semiconductor manufacturing. Republicans still might not play ball, but Democrats would nevertheless benefit from establishing their bona fides on an issue that has plagued them for decades.
Democrats and democracy defenders have much to be grateful for following the midterms. Now, they must devote time and capital to adapt to the political landscape. If they do not, their prospects in 2024, when many Democratic senators in red states will be on the ballot, will be far less sunny.