We are officially less than a month away from some pretty historic elections that I believe will fundamentally alter the political landscape of this Congress and the country for the next eight to 10 years. Yes, the campaign season for all 435 House of Representatives seats is well underway, and the fights are heated and brutish. The same holds true for one-third of the U.S. Senate. In fact, early absentee voting has already begun in several states. Already in these congressional districts, candidates are working hard to land political haymakers in attempts to knock their opponents out.
Only a handful of pollsters and pundits believe that Republicans can retain majorities in both chambers. Even fewer believe the House will remain red and Republican. I believe that dynamic is shifting, even as I write this. And it's all because of the recent developments surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his confirmation. That entire episode was particularly nasty, and struck the country in a way we have not seen since the days of Justice Clarence Thomas.
I think in many respects it will backfire on the left, and vulnerable Senate Democrats who voted against Kavanaugh will have to answer to the voters. That one vote could cost them their seats. Likewise, the Kavanaugh vote could stir Republicans in states such as Texas to hit the polls and send Sen. Ted Cruz back to Washington in surprise victories in pivotal states.
But let's assume that Democrats sweep the House table come Election Day. What then? What steps will the party take strategically to seal this majority lock for generations to come — dare I say, a permanent majority?
I remember the days of Republican House Majority Whip Tom DeLay. "The Hammer" — as he was affectionately called — would publicly dream of a permanent Republican majority. And he would use that vivid picture to encourage his rank and file to toe party lines and unite behind macro issues that were both populist and popular. Alas, of course, that did not occur, and Republicans would go on a few short years later to lose their grip on power. Yet the notion of a "permanent majority" in any chamber can often be used in powerful ways to incentivize and motivate.
So what will Nancy Pelosi and her leadership put on the table to help the House minority leader's rank and file envision their own permanent majority? If they were smart, they would adopt the following four policies:
—Launch a national infrastructure program. This is as American as apple pie and state fairs. Americans love to build things. And many on both sides of the spectrum will say our nation is in desperate need of overhaul of the nation's bridges, highways, ports, etc. If Democrats would play their cards right, they could even enlist dozens of Republicans from key pockets of the country, perhaps even the president himself. There was a lot of talk on the 2016 presidential trail of rebuilding America, but that hasn't happened. And a Democrat majority could come into power ready to enact such a large and visible public works project.
—Design a national long-term care initiative. You didn't expect this one, did you? That's precisely my point. America's seniors, disabled and mentally challenged have become a forgotten demographic in recent years. Those who struggle with custodial care — even as non-professional caregivers such as sons, daughters and grandchildren are shrinking and increasingly unable to look after their loved ones — will see their situations only worsen. Demographic tables report a silver tsunami and other waves that will crush the current public support structure. And the worst part is most Americans think Medicare covers long-term care. It does not. It never has. Medicaid — a program for the poor — has had to carry the load for millions. It was never geared for that type of care, and it simply cannot sustain tomorrow's population. Democrats could re-assert themselves as the party of seniors and the under-served by earnestly designing a workable program that folds in the best of the private sector (insurance instruments) with the public sector. Forget what "Obamacare" weakly proposed when it was passed. That was a joke. Turn the page and offer seniors and the disabled something far more substantive and lasting.
—Denounce "Medicare-for-all." While the first two were proactive policies, these last two will be items Democrats should avoid at all costs. And "Medicare-for-all" proposals should be at the top of the list. Progressives are working both publicly and behind-the-scenes to twist this unworkable policy into a sweetener that entices Americans by its name alone. As popular as Medicare is, expanding the program into a single-payer system run by the government is not what the nation needs. Even the bluest of Democratic states agree, when they're given more than a bumper-sticker explanation of the proposal. The cost alone is jaw-dropping — tens of trillions of dollars just to get the program off the ground, never mind if it can work or not. And yet, dozens of Democrat members of Congress have already pledged that if they take back the majority, HR 1 will certainly be "Medicare-for-all." That is the best way to ensure that the "Democrat majority" Pelosi wants lasts approximately two years.
—Don't impeach Trump. Don't do it. Just don't. As tempting as it is, the day the House Judiciary Committee begins its hearings is the day that giant sucking sound of the Democrat majority going down the drain grows into a cacophony. Impeachment wallops a nation. No one likes it, no matter how bad the sitting president is. There are too many other important things to do where voters will be watching. Instead, Democrats should co-opt moderate Republicans, or even Trump himself. Pit the White House against its own party; shore up your majority that way. Think long game, not revenge.
Unfortunately, few if any parts of this plan will be considered. The Democrat Party of today has seized less on idea politics than on identity politics. The sexual preference of a candidate or the color of a candidate's skin is apparently more important than the ideas that individual espouses. That may be what many voters in the party want. But it's not what the voters need.
To find out more about Armstrong Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.