This is the year for Democrats, and I have the plan for them to take back the U.S. House of Representatives.
Nobody needs another analysis of what went wrong for Democrats in 2016. But to understand why 2018 will be an opportunity to retake the U.S. House, it is important to consider that, for this past election, the Democrats had a historically-disliked candidate at the top of their ticket, and they were caught in a traditionally bad cycle: It is unusual for a party in control of the White House for two terms to win a third.
Democrats need to flip 24 seats to regain control of the House. Sounds daunting. Here’s their best shot (maybe for Kentucky state Democrats, too):
Someone (smarter than me) identifies the 50 most-vulnerable, Republican-held congressional districts in 2018. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) then divides its members — Democrat U.S. Representatives — into teams of three, and each team is assigned to one of the 50 districts. (Some members can be left out for leadership responsibilities, protecting their own seats, etc., which should leave about 150 members, or three per team.)
Each three-person team is in charge of flipping its assigned district.
Immediately, those three members begin fundraising for that district, with the objective to hire a full-time staff person (or two) to be on the ground… as soon as possible. These members should already be safe enough in their own reelection to direct fundraising efforts toward this cause — to retake the House — plus, they already direct some of their fundraising efforts to the DCCC anyway. That staffer is responsible for carrying out a social-media strategy, coordinating between the state and local parties and the three-member team of representatives, identifying key local issues and projects, starting grassroots organizing and voter registration and arranging for the designated members to be active in the local media, with influential groups, organizations and individuals and continued fundraising.
Democrats can (and need to) apply pressure now, before a candidate is nominated.
Over the course of the next year or so — until there are primary candidates and, eventually, a nominee — each of the three-member teams should each visit the district once or twice (or more, basically having an active presence in the district at least every month or so). These visits could be to fundraise, organize, meet and recruit potential candidates, visit local universities and, essentially, activate the campaign before the campaign begins.
Finally, once the Democratic Party has a nominee, the three-member team can hand off a turnkey operation — or at least a foundation — on which the individual’s campaign can build. From then on, through Election Day 2018, the three-member team is available to mentor, support, advise and assist with anything from politics to policy.
Why will this work?
In the next two years, the election environment will be completely different: We will have endured life under single-party control, the Republicans finally will have no one else to blame for their destructive politics and policies and President Trump will finally have to put policies behind his mouth — maybe produce his tax returns, resolve his business conflicts and admit he and Vladimir Putin are besties.
It would be political malpractice to not have an organized, focused response apparatus in place to respond to each and every overreach… and the Trump Republican Party will overreach. But the responses can’t continue to come from Washington. My structure creates a direct link between Washington and boots on the ground.
In this way, instead of all Democrats having to answer for all issues, they can micro-target the message to fit the audience in the specific district. For instance, immigration may be a major issue in some districts, while healthcare is in another, and defense and veterans’ issues is in another. Democrats wouldn’t be stuck talking about Trump’s tweeting, or Putin’s hacking, when what they need to be addressing are the concerns of people — people we want to serve and represent.
I believe there is an opportunity for Democrats in 2018 — a repudiation of Trump and harmful Republican policies. This is the best chance that Democrats have to unify, organize and apply a critical mass of pressure to the most vulnerable 50 districts. And hey… you only need to win half of them to change the world.