Hillary Clinton taking the Oval Office seemed inevitable just a few months back. In fact, there was evidence to suggest even Congress was in striking distance for the Democratic Party.
Of course, things didn't pan out exactly how anyone had expected. Not only was Donald Trump inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States a few days ago, but his Republican party has also managed to sweep Congress and the Senate. Democratic nominees to the Supreme Court are also set to be in the minority for the foreseeable future after the Trump administration appoints the new justice this year.
It's the beginning of a cold and harsh winter for the Democrats. But if history is any guide the party has the potential to bounce back. It's an uphill battle, but here's what Democrats should do in the new year:
Pick a Leader
This has to be the most important task for the party this year. The party leaders will vote on the leadership of the Democratic National Committee before the end of March this year. The new leader will be tasked with restructuring the party and bringing it back from isolation. Party experts will tell you that none really knows how this vote will pan out. There are a lot of people vying for the head seat, but it's nearly impossible to predict at this stage.
In the running are the former Vermont governor, Howard Dean, and Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a favorite of Bernie Sanders. Dean is well-experienced and ran the national party while Barack Obama was running in 2008. Ellison, meanwhile, is seen as the 'fixer-upper' and the leader with the potential to help the party win elections again. He's also managed to get both Bernie Sanders' and incoming Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer's seal of approval for the leadership bid. Keith was also the first Muslim to be elected to Congress. Labor Secretary Tom Perez is also part of the race.
Picking an effective leader could chart the course for a Democratic recovery over the course of the Trump presidency.
Align with The Disenfranchised
President Donald Trump is taking office with the lowest approval rating for an incoming president in history. Only 40% of voters had a favorable rating of the new president. This could be due to Trump's rhetoric on minorities, women, and even the physically challenged. This is a polarizing presidency at a time when America is deeply divided and a lot of people are going to bear the brunt of the ensuing battle.
In his first few days as POTUS, Trump has already set in motion a full repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act. This is despite the fact that Obamacare reduced the number of uninsured people dramatically over the first few years. The number of people without healthcare insurance can be expected to spike up as the Trump administration and the Republican senate roll back this program.
Meanwhile, the Women's March that began during Trump's inauguration is likely to transcend into a long-term movement for women's rights.
The Democratic party has already positioned itself as a champion of women's rights and healthcare reform, but it hasn't done enough to sustain the vote of middle-class Americans. It hasn't aligned itself with the blue-collar workers, which resulted in the party losing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. The party even lost the support of Wisconsin, which hasn't voted for a Republican since 1984.
Realigning with the middle-class workers and the disenfranchised minority is now a top priority for the party.
Focus on Inequality
There's conclusive evidence to suggest income inequality in the US is a growing crisis. No one denies the existence of income inequality or the need to tackle it, but opinions diverge on the best method to solve the issue.
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