With New Year’s resolutions and almost everything else in life, it’s essential—and often extremely difficult—to set priorities. This applies especially to politics, now dominated by the provocations and outrages that emanate daily from President Trump and his White House.
In 2018, Trump’s abuses of power, his indifference to truth, and his autocratic habits will be the central issues in our politics. Nothing else comes close.
This means there is no more vital business than containing Trump and, if circumstances demand it, removing him from office. This applies not only to progressives and liberals but also to everyone else, from left to right, who would defend our democratic values and republican institutions.
This may sound obvious, but it’s not. Among Democrats, there are often irresistible temptations to fight internal battles in preparation for 2020: Clinton people vs. Bernie people, the center-left vs. the left, the market-friendlies vs. the social democrats and democratic socialists.
These are necessary arguments, and, in any event, they cannot be suppressed. But they are not the most important thing. With special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation under constant threat from Trump’s apologists, solidarity among his opponents is imperative. This is all the more pressing in the face of the Republican leadership’s shameful cowering before a president who is perpetually in search of loyalty and sycophantic praise.
It is a habit of political commentators to say that Democrats “lack a message” and a program. It’s worth mentioning that this has not stopped them from winning a lot of elections, some in unlikely places, over the last few months.
Of course Democrats must offer a compelling vision of a just country and a coherent approach to the world. They have to be mindful of the complicated and highly diverse coalition they need to build—starting with African-Americans, but also reaching out to working-class voters of all races who are being hurt by Trump’s policies. Most districts cannot be won without broad, multi-racial alliances.