What's next now that Democrats lost the Senate.
Democrats have lost the Senate, and what happens next is going to depend a lot on what President Obama is willing to stand up and fight for.
That’s not a comforting thought. But it’s also up to us and how far we’re willing to go to pressure the president to do the right and necessary thing.
Republicans will do everything in their power to advance their Tea Party agenda – including what Democrats refused to do, like getting rid of the filibuster for legislation, using reconciliation to pass bills with only 51 votes, and continuing to refuse to compromise in the face of Democrats all too willing to cave preemptively.
President Obama can no longer credibly suggest that there is a bipartisan path to progress – though his advisors may urge him to do just that. He needs to take executive action. He must refuse to cave to Republicans. He cannot waste time negotiating with bad faith partners who have no intention of compromising ever.
Here are 10 things President Obama must do immediately – and 10 things that aren’t likely to happen if we don’t make him do it.
- No deals on cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Speaker John Boehner and likely incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will try to force President Obama to enter into a "grand bargain," and sign legislation that would include benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. President Obama previously considered striking such a deal, but was blocked by a Democratic Senate. He must draw a line in the sand and refuse any deal that includes cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits.
- Strengthen the power plant carbon rule to make it your boldest action yet on climate. The administration’s draft plan represents an important step forward, but a deeply insufficient one. (Example: The 2020 renewable energy goals for many states are already being met.) The urgency of climate change calls for the President and EPA to strengthen these rules substantially.
- Immediately suspend deportations of millions of aspiring Americans until comprehensive immigration reform can be passed. President Obama must use all legal means available to suspend deportations and offer affirmative relief to millions of immigrants who would have qualified for legalization under the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate.
- Don’t commit ground troops to Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. President Obama must keep his promise not to deploy ground troops in Syria. He must also withdraw all troops from Iraq, and refuse to slow or delay the planned 2016 withdrawal of all ground troops from Afghanistan.
- Reject Keystone XL, and apply the climate test to all federal decision making. It is clear that Keystone XL fails the President’s climate test of substantially increasing CO2 emissions. But rejecting this one pipeline isn’t enough. The president should apply this test to all fossil fuel projects going forward, and promptly reject any projects that accelerate climate change.
- Save the Internet by making Net Neutrality the law of the land. President Obama has said spoken out in favor of a free and open Internet with no fast and slow lanes determined by the big telecom companies. He must ensure that his three commissioner majority on the FCC reclassifies broadband as a public utility under Title II and saves the Internet.
- Empower your Federal Election Commission to enforce election laws and limit money in politics. Our electoral process is flooded with more and more corporate campaign money each election cycle. President Obama must immediately fill all Federal Election Commission vacancies with commissioners who are committed to enforcing federal campaign finance limits on 501(c)(4) organizations and stopping illegal coordination between SuperPACs and political campaigns.
- Fill all federal judicial vacancies before the end of this Congress. The White House can no longer respect antiquated Senate courtesies that has resulted in slow walking his nominations to the floor. The President must immediately put forward progressive nominees for every single judicial vacancy and demand they be confirmed by the end of the lame duck.
- Fight back against the Republican war on women with NO compromises. Republicans plan to escalate the war on women with a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks, using reconciliation to repeal key parts of the Affordable Care Act including coverage of birth control, and pushing the president agree to loopholes in women’s health coverage under the guise of “religious exemptions.” The President must hold the line against these attacks, with no compromise.
- Use federal powers to end abusive, militarized and biased policing targeting African Americans and Latinos. The federal government has a clear role to play in addressing the alarming number of unarmed African American men who have been killed by state and local police. The president should start by appointing an Attorney General who will make civil rights a top priority and by issuing an executive order that creates a strong and enforceable prohibition on police brutality and discriminatory policing.
As we sort through the election results and think about what we as progressive activists should do next, it’s worth thinking about why we lost.
- We were up against hundreds of millions of dollars in spending by right wing extremists and billionaires.
- Our electoral system is rigged in perverse ways by state legislatures and election officials in order to curtail the act of voting among minorities and the progressive base.
- Party committees and candidate campaigns wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on ineffective negative television advertising. If this money had been invested in voter mobilization on the ground instead, Democrats would not have lost the Senate.
Given the massive amounts of money dominating our political system, putting organizers on the ground in key states to build a community of motivated and hardworking volunteers who will go door-to-door and call their neighbors about why their vote matters is the only way we win. While almost every progressive was inundated with robocalls and mailers, a majority of progressives never had someone knock on their door and remind them to vote. Not only is this the surest and cheapest way to win elections, it also has the bonus of building our movement instead of investing in tactics that tear down our democracy in the process.
Last spring, CREDO SuperPAC launched a campaign to Save the Senate. It was the first national campaign with offices on the ground in key states focused on stopping Republicans. We did not want to wake up the day after the election wishing we had done more. We opened offices in key states, organized LOCAL volunteers to make 2 million phone calls and knock on over 65,000 doors. Our campaign was powered by over 45,000 donations by CREDO activists – some contributing every week in the final countdown to keep these offices and organizers going. These local volunteers and donors from across the country helped put Gary Peters over the top, and we held Michigan. But in North Carolina, Colorado, Kentucky and Georgia it wasn’t enough to close the gap. And across the country, Democrats in states like Iowa and Alaska dropped races they should have won. And now Republicans control not just the House but also the Senate.
So we got beat in an election where the rules were rigged and our side wasted millions. But we do not quit. Too much is at stake.
The landscape in Washington DC just got worse. Much worse. Progressives have to quickly pivot to the key fights we know are coming as a result of Republican control of the Senate. President Obama will be at the center of our strategy. And we’ll need your help to push him to do everything in his power to break through the coming Republican blockade.
Tell President Obama: Here are the ten things you have to do immediately now that Tea Party Republicans control both the House and the Senate.
Thank you for everything you do to work for progressive change.