Democrats simply cannot expect to move legislation again until they can regain control of Congress. And all signs are that it will take a Republican president, and voter dissatisfaction with a Republican president, to make the Democrats truly competitive in congressional races again.
As we have said, the day of reckoning is not likely to come in 2018 for structural reasons, including Democrats’ pathetic turnout in midterm elections. If voters are to have a change of heart about Trumpism, it is a better bet to come in 2020.
So that builds pressure on 2020, a fortuitously numbered year that could be the next hinge in our political history. That could be an advantageous case of timing for the Democrats, a great year for a comeback for all the reasons it would have been a disastrous time for a punishing rejection.
All of this is mere projection, and it may not ease the pain of a narrow loss in a presidential election. But it paints a realistic picture of what would have come next. And for Democrats, the prospect of losing the presidency in 2020 would clearly be worse.
What Democrats have to do is adjust their thinking and their time frame. They should stop trying to maintain what they won the last decade (mostly in 2006 and 2008 while George W. Bush was still in the White House) and start thinking about how a Republican president can help them rebuild. They need to go back to the base and raise a new pyramid from the ground up, with a new generation of candidates and activists and motivators. There need to be new approaches to issues, new messages to take to the disaffected.
The Democratic campaign of 2016 came down to relying on two categories: minority voters and Trump’s character issues. There were lots of both, to be sure, but not quite enough of either.
Ron Elving, “Was Clinton Loss The Worst-Case Scenario For Democrats? No, Probably Not”, NPR (15 November 2016) [http://www.npr.org/2016/11/15/502041497/was-clinton-loss-the-worst-case-scenario-for-democrats-no-probably-not]