We are glad President-elect Biden is ready to start addressing the desperate needs of the American people and put forth a Covid aid proposal which begins to address the many issues we face. We hope ten Senate Republicans will support it, but are not holding our breath. The big question is, what happens when Republicans block Biden? Biden has chosen to reject austerity politics. We hope that he will continue to stick to that approach, and go big always.
Tuesday’s victories in the Georgia Senate races show the gains that can be accomplished when Democratic leaders follow the leadership of progressives and the grassroots. Back in November, our organizations issued a memo calling on Democrats to do three things: reclaim a populist economic message, invest in a progressive, base-turnout-ground-up organizing strategy, and run against McConnell. In a memo on December 10, we urged Democrats to run on direct checks. In the Georgia runoffs, Democrats did all of these things and won. Tuesday’s victories happened because of the infrastructure and deep-work built through decades of grassroots organizing and base-building led by Black Georgians, Georgians of color, and progressive and Democratic organizers. It also happened because of the willingness of the Warnock and Ossoff campaigns to be responsive to shortcomings in the general election and feedback on how they could build upon and improve their campaign strategies.
The direct payments included in this bill are not enough to keep many Americans above water and another round of aid – including more generous direct payments – will be necessary. Democrats must demand another round of negotiations early next year and start driving an aggressive economic message now. They also owe it to the working Americans who will still suffer to ask themselves tough questions about why, with the White House on record endorsing a significantly larger aid package, they were unable to secure a better deal in this round.
Republicans may be about to hand Democrats a winning issue on a silver platter – one that could help them reclaim a populist economic message and win back control of the Senate. If another round of direct relief payments is not included in the new coronavirus relief package due to GOP opposition, then Democrats should hold them accountable, and make sending $1,200 checks the central issue in the Georgia Senate runoffs.
While Joe Biden won the presidency, down-ballot Democrats in Senate, House, and state legislature races suffered significant setbacks. Despite the ambitious number of Congressional seats Democrats put into play, they ultimately failed to expand their House majority and lost many of the first-term Democrats ushered in by 2018’s “Blue Wave.” Democrats also lost races in an expanded Senate map that included Alaska, Iowa, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, and Texas. Control of the Senate – and with it much of Biden’s legislative agenda – will be determined by two runoff elections in Georgia. These defeats led to immediate questions of what had gone wrong.
In Congress, Democrats face an enormous challenge in holding the House in 2022, and must enter 2021 with a clear strategy. The status quo is a glide path to the minority, and a Republican Congress will doom any chance of progress for working people. In the past one hundred years, the president’s party has lost seats in the House in every first-term midterm but three. We all want to keep the House in Democratic hands, but defying these historical trends will require bold action and a smart, strategic approach. To have a fighting chance at holding the House in 2022, winning more seats in the Senate, and holding on to the presidency in 2024, Democrats should be guided by four strategic imperatives.
As we speak, Congressional Democrats are debating why they underperformed and some have been quick to blame progressives. There is no denying Republicans levied salient rhetorical attacks against Democrats, but these will continue to happen as they do every cycle. We cannot let Republican narratives drive our party away from Democrats’ core base of support: young people, Black, Brown, working class, and social movements who are the present and future of the party. The question is: how are we going to prepare?