The Republican Party suffered a resounding defeat in November at the hands of the Democrats. As fate would have it, angry white men are not enough to win elections in America anymore. However this does not mean they've given up, nor does it mean politics have ceased. Many on the left, myself included, are still celebrating the election; there's no denying the significance of the victory, but the GOP is still kicking and its time to double down. In Mississippi, Republicans have found a way to remind the people that their state voted for Romney: they are attacking their only abortion clinic. In Michigan, Republicans in the legislature are working to pass right-to-work legislation to undermine the strength of unions. On the national stage, the GOP-controlled House is holding social programs hostage to protect tax cuts for the rich. While they are ultimately on their way out, Republicans are still of the mindset that they have a mandate to govern the way they want, and any election that says otherwise was a mistake. They are undeterred in their goal of wanting to see the federal government shrunk to a pre-New Deal Era size, which would make regulation of business and helping the poor impossible.
The Democrats have begun to take control of the frame of the national conversation, but they must act decisively and not back down if they are to solidify it. First thing on the agenda should be controlling the lame duck Congress. With the election still fresh, there should be a should push for redistricting reform. In 2006, a senator named Barack Obama said "too often, our representatives are selecting their voters, as opposed to the voters selecting the representatives. That is a situation that I think the American people should not accept." The 2012 election demonstrated just that: the majority of Americans voted to reject the GOP's radical agenda. Democrats won the majority of the votes cast for the House, but thanks to gerrymandering they were unable to take the election. Things have gotten so out of control that the House, with elections every two years, has a lower turnover rate than the Senate, with elections every six, opposite to how the Framers intended it. Democrats should seek a non-partisan committee to draw the districts as opposed to the state legislatures doing it every 10 years. Such reform would benefit our democratic process while simultaneously doing what an electoral rejection could not: weaken the GOP's oppositional spirit if not its hold on the national dialogue by threatening the last bastion of their power. This could be Obama's Court Packing Scheme. Only when the House falls in line can real progress be made.
The Democrats must also shift the focus from the deficit to real issues like banking/Wall Street reform, unemployment, and poverty. They have to take their case directly to the people the way FDR did when Republicans balked at the New Deal, and the people must be motivated enough to act.
We won the battle but the war is far from over. The Democrats can ensure a general trend of victory for the next 30 years by making the next four a success. However, all that has been achieved can be undone if the left is unable to deal with the problems facing America. Every legislative battle must be a victory because the GOP has nothing to lose, and even when they did, that didn't stop them. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the debt ceiling "a hostage worth taking." The Republicans purposely downgraded the national credit rating in an effort to hurt President Obama's reelection chances. Now, the GOP can feel that the writing is on the wall, and so they're not really trying to fix the country. They're hoping the Democrats fail, and to that end are proposing bad policies: It is no secret companies ship jobs overseas because the labor is cheaper, but does that really mean we should bring sweatshops back to America? There are people who hate us in the world, but does that really mean we need to pay for military equipment we don't even use just for the sake of having it? Finance is an ever-evolving field but does that really mean we have to deregulate the banks and Wall Street to stay current, given that the last 2 times we did the economy collapsed? Religion can be an important part of people's lives, but does anything justify denying women's healthcare needs, fundamental human rights, and science? Moreover, does it really mean we should ignore our constitutional separation of church and state? Global warming is a difficult problem to address in an industrialized America, but does that mean we shouldn't even try? Nobody denies that the rich benefit the economy, but are we really communists for rejecting the notion that they're the backbone of it? Finally, in a time of recession, a time economists agree that spending is the answer, should we really be focused on cutting spending? It may sound like paranoia to accuse the GOP of playing dirty politics in an effort to sabotage the Democrats, but this is the party of the Southern Strategy and Divide & Conquer. This is the party that admitted to attempting to limit the minority vote this past election. We voted for change. Its time the people had their day in court, and for that the Democrats have to keep fighting.