Editor’s Note: Lincoln Mitchell (@LincolnMitchell) teaches in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. His most recent book is “The Giants and Their City: Major League Baseball in San Francisco, 1976-1992.” (Kent State University Press, 2020) The opinions expressed here are his own. View more opinion at CNN.
As 2021 winds down, there is a growing consensus that 2022 is going to be a tough year for the Democratic Party. The momentary relief the party experienced at the start of the year when President Joe Biden was inaugurated, Americans began getting vaccinated and the economy seemed to be rebounding feels but a distant memory.
Biden’s low approval ratings, sizable vaccine hesitancy and resistance and growing concerns over inflation now dominate the headlines. Taken together, these factors have contributed to the growing sense that the Republican Party is poised to win back control of the US House of Representatives and perhaps the US Senate as well.
While it is tempting to see the likelihood of the Republican Party winning control of at least one chamber of Congress as part of the normal give-and-take of electoral politics, the stakes are much higher for the Democratic Party and indeed for American democracy.
A Republican victory likely means the end of the select committee investigating the US Capitol insurrection, the possibility of impeachment hearings against Biden for his handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the daunting prospect that a Republican who has supported former President Donald Trump as he perpetuates the “Big Lie” could soon hold the speaker’s gavel.
So, what can Democrats do? First is to take a deep breath and recognize that a lot can happen in the 11 months between now and the election. It is possible that we will definitively turn the corner on Covid-19 and that the positive economic indicators will win out over the more troubling indicators, giving the governing party a strong economy as the election approaches.
But hoping for Covid-19 and the economy to improve is not all the Democratic Party can do. Of course, Sen. Joe Manchin’s recent statement that he would not support Biden’s signature Build Back Better bill throws a wrench in their plans to pass any major legislation. Accordingly, there are two tactics the party must take.
The first is to take credit for the significant accomplishments of the Biden administration and explain how these successes – such as the fall infrastru