The Democratic Party’s Midterm Obstacles
The Democratic Party of the United States has many obstacles in its way this upcoming fall. In their efforts to preserve the right of abortion to American citizens and extend gun control in the face of skyrocketing mass shooting numbers, many are turning a critical eye on the Democratic Party’s running on these big-ticket issues for decades. Criticisms include the fact that the Party has had little to no success in achieving any substantial legislative wins. In the face of a Republican party that looks nothing like the GOP of old, those that look to the Democratic Party as a symbol of stability will find little to inspire faith in an institution whose success or failure this November will alter the landscape of the United States.
The Democratic Party entered 2021 with a multimillion-dollar war chest ready to be utilised in combatting the far-right candidates popping up on ballots across the nation. This comes after nearly a decade of financial struggles during which the DNC could barely break even between their fundraising income and operating costs. On the back of the Trump-era political fever, the Democratic National Party (DNC) reinvigorated its fundraising strategy and created a comfortable $ 75 million dollar safety net for the 2022 midterms. How these millions will be used still remains unseen. The Democratic Party has yet to invest in state-level races in the way the GOP did in the late '90s and the early 2000s; fundraising which created the foundation of red state governments we see in operation today. There are rumours that party leadership is torn on where to spend the money. Historically the Republican National Party (RNC) has outspent and out-fundraised the DNC and, despite new increases in Democratic fundraising, the RNC still has the experience, culture and ruthlessness with campaign finance that the DNC lacks thus far.
The Democratic Party, despite its position against excessive campaign spending, has benefited from the unlimited money pool of corporations and other outside bodies. However, most state-level races will never see a cent of this money, a problem as it is the state races that matter in the fight for the right to abortion. Nonetheless, these races still are not a priority for the party. The party further fails to take advantage of legal financial avenues that their opposition flaunts, prioritising the "big ticket" candidates who do not have the position, authority or power over decisions being made at the state level. The DNC’s lack of commitment to either turning away privatised interests or accepting money and using every possible legal avenue for success makes their goal of winning races and shifting the direction of the government all the more unlikely.
The issues with the DNC do not end financially; the party lacks substantial direction. They cannot agree on what to change, how to change or even that there needs to be change in the way their national party operates. It is therefore not surprising that one of their largest issues is that they cannot agree on a single platform. Unlike the Republican Party, the Democrats struggle to create a specific platform that is relatable, motivating and/or consistent. This consistency is what is most important. When leadership such as President Biden, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are all selling different versions of the Democratic Party, it becomes all the more difficult to galvanise the constituents most likely to show up for the party. And as has been learned in recent years by the subpar electoral wins across the country, running against Trumpism is not enough to win a race.
Another factor to consider is the policies of the DNC; many consider the DNC to be causing more harm to themselves than good. One of the biggest focal points in this argument is the caucus process for selecting presidential candidates. Caucuses are not representative of the country, yet they get to decide who is on the primary ballot. As constituents call for more diverse candidates, this system of selecting candidates appears to be becoming more flawed. Other complaints include the closed primary process, common in many states. A closed primary refers to a primary election where you must be registered with the party to vote for the party nominee. Some argue that the primary should be open to everyone regardless of party registration or affiliation. Rather than restricting the primary to affiliated voters, give the voters a chance to vote in either the Democratic or the Republican party. Many believe this will encourage greater participation in Democratic politics with unaffiliated/independent voters. These are only a few complaints about the DNC’s processes but they have fairly simplw legal solutions. Caucuses are determined by DNC policy, which can be absolved through their own statutes, while open primaries can be established in states, already done in states such as Maryland with minimal issues. Nevertheless, the DNC has remained stagnant on these issues.
Before the 2020 Presidential election, political pundits warned the DNC of three things: running on the basis of Anti-Trumpism, not prioritising state races and underestimating the power of unions. They failed to address any of these concerns and Biden won by a small margin. It has been almost two years since Biden’s victory and now the 2022 midterms have almost arrived, but the party has yet to undergo any fundamental changes because the leadership cannot agree on what that change should be. This puts the Democratic Party at real risk this fall.
As the DNC fails to pursue all its legal avenues for reform and the redistribution of financing, it creates questions for many voters regarding who they should put their faith in this fall. With a growing loss of rights for women, attacks on minorities and gun violence, Americans are looking for guidance and see none in the Democratic Party. The Democrats have failed to organise around the issues that they claim to be fundamental aspects of their platform. Without appearing as an effective party that will implement pro-choice and gun control policies, the Democrats risk losing seats in Congress and across state legislative bodies and face the probability of right-wing extremist policies becoming law across the nation.