Inflection point for Democrats (Democrats should be worried)

Image courtesy of The White House via Wikimedia Commons.

Another vital national Election Day has come and gone, and despite youth voter turnout soaring in recent years, Democrats have made very little progress on a number of promises, from reproductive rights to policies against gun violence. The slim margins by which many Democratic governors, Senators and House members retained their seats only serve as an example of the disunity in the Party. 

That’s not to say that Democrats should not be proud of the progress made in this year’s midterms. They will retain the Senate, and they managed to save many House seats from the supposed “red wave” that many Republican Party (GOP) officials promoted during the campaigning stage, according to The Wall Street Journal

But this proclamation of “Blue” or “Red” waves simply does not work. This became apparent to Republicans last Tuesday. Democrats, however, have also experienced the spread of unrealistic election outcomes made by their party, particularly in 2020, as reported by The New York Times. After four years of former President Donald Trump’s detrimental tenure in the Oval Office, it was expected that Democrats would wipe the floor with the GOP. On the contrary, however, Republicans picked up 14 seats in the House. Despite the Democrat-held Congress the last two years, President Joe Biden struggled with vital legislation on inflation, gun control and reproductive rights. 

As campaigning started last spring and the Supreme Court confirmed the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, disregarding over 40-years of precedent, it was also expected that Democrats would gain grounds in the midterm election on abortion rights alone. While historically conservative states like Kansas voted to uphold some form of legal abortion in the state’s constitution, Democrats relied on the issue to uphold the majority in at least one of the chambers of Congress, according to FiveThirtyEight. Democratic candidates relied on the vote of angry suburbanites to bolster their chances of taking largely conservative areas, solely based on the premise of a radical turn in the Supreme Court. But this strategy didn’t work across the country. Radical conservatives like Governor Greg Abbott (Republican-Texas) and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (Republican-Georgia) still have better control over their regions than the Democratic Party does. 

It’s clear with states like Georgia, where a runoff will determine the state’s Senator, and Pennsylvania, where John Fetterman won by only a slim margin, that Democrats’ hold on their party is slowly slipping. Texas and Florida’s Republicans wiped the floor with their opponents. Democrats are not representative of the Party, but rather are at the whim of their state’s circumstances. Beto O’Rourke was caught in a frenzy with gun control throughout his campaign, switching sides from arguing, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” in a highly-reported Presidential Democratic Primary debate back in 2020, to declaring he had no interest in taking anything from anyone during his gubernatorial campaign this year, according to The Hill. 

O’Rourke was called out for his contradictory remarks during the gubernatorial debate back in late September. Even before election night came, O’Rourke stood very little chance with the instability of his positions on vital issues. He was stuck between his state’s interests and the interests of the Democratic Party.

A study first reported by Politico in mid-October indicates wide support for gun control—66 percent of Americans. Among the policies supported are Red Flag laws, universal background checks, required permits and violent misdemeanor laws. Under Red Flag laws, according to The Washington Post, “[Y]ou don’t have to have a criminal record or a history of mental illness to lose your gun temporarily. If a judge is persuaded by an argument that you are a danger to yourself or others, police can take your guns away for days, weeks, months or a year.” It serves as proactive legislation against violence, rather than reactive. 

But for the last two years under Biden’s presidency, Democrats have failed to pass much legislation supporting these policies. The first “major” piece of gun legislation, signed by Biden last year, is the first of its kind in 30 years. But Democrats received only a fraction of what they had hoped for with the bill, according to NPR. In particular, Senator Joe Manchin (Democrat-West Virginia), infamous for his moderate opinions, forced Democrats to surrender much broader legislation meant to tackle gun safety around the country, The Hill reported. 

Codifying abortion rights has been no different. Besides minimal legislation supporting Planned Parenthood and obstetricians, the promise of the codification of Roe v. Wade now seems impossible. Democrats have failed to fulfill their promises to their party members, and while the midterm elections this year showed promise for a broken party, the GOP is close behind. Republicans are rallying a party to take on the 2024 Presidential Election, and Biden, who is currently the only Democrat to announce their bid, has a faltering approval rate after multiple failures trying to pass concrete legislation, according to The New York Times. 

Support for Biden and the Democratic Party is faltering and people are unsure if Democrats are ready and able to pass viable legislation. Without solid stances on vital issues that grip the American public, Democrats will continue to falter behind a growing radical Right. After a solid stance, promises of legislation must be fulfilled. It is clear that the American people support such policies, and it is time for the Democratic Party to respond. 


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