The winner of the 2022 midterm elections may not be the party brilliant enough to win it, but the party that makes the fewest predictable mistakes to lose it. Both parties face extreme risk in the midterm elections. Both parties are entirely capable of making self-defeating mistakes that lose them.
I am directing this column mostly to Democrats, as a Democrat who urgently wants Democrats to increase their tiny majorities in the House and Senate, and as a patriot who believes that the dangers to democracy remain real and significant.
Senate Republican Conference Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Manchin, Barrasso announce bill to revegetate forests after devastating fires Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs MORE (Wyo.) recently said that he wants to make President BidenJoe BidenFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push Protesters demonstrate outside Manchin's houseboat over opposition to reconciliation package Alabama eyes using pandemic relief funds on prison system MORE a one-half-term president.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push On The Money — GOP blocks spending bill to kick off chaotic week in congress Overnight Health Care — Presented by Alrtia — Booster shots get bipartisan rollout MORE (R-Ky.), who may be the most aggressively hyperpartisan leader in the history of the Senate, who calls himself the “grim reaper” of Democratic proposals, who often brags that doing what most Democrats consider stealing a conservative majority of the Supreme Court is the great achievement of his career and who is also the most nationally unpopular politician in memory — will do anything to make Biden a one-half-term president.
Make no mistake: McConnell is going for the political kill in 2022.
Democrats are blessed to have won the presidency, the House and Senate in 2020.
Democrats are cursed that their majority in the House is tiny and their majority in the Senate is zero, dependent on the tie-breaking vote of the vice president, which could be negated if one or two Democrats become McConnell’s powerful allies by supporting his filibusters intended to make Biden a one-half-term president.
Democrats must act like a governing party, with a governing majority as tiny as a flea on the butt of an elephant.
Given the indisputable mathematics of national politics, the prime directive for Democrats, which must be achieved with iron-willed clarity, must be a “band of brothers and sisters” spirit of party unity in which every Democratic member of the House and Senate is willing to make fair compromises, with every other Democrat in the House and Senate — for their shared greater good of keeping and expanding their current majority in both legislative bodies.
Regarding Biden, someone once said that Franklin Roosevelt’s great talent was juggling multiple balls in the air without losing his own. While Biden should champion bipartisanship when possible, Biden and Democrats should run against the hyperpartisan and highly unpopular McConnell in the midterms as the uncompromising enemy of bipartisanship.
This band of brothers and sisters Democratic unity movement should extend to all important issues, across the board.
On voting rights I would credit Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinProtesters demonstrate outside Manchin's houseboat over opposition to reconciliation package Security policy expert: Defense industry donations let lawmakers 'ignore public opinion' Manchin cast doubt on deal this week for .5T spending bill MORE (D-W.Va.) for offering a fair and credible compromise proposal, so long as he would unequivocally oppose filibusters to destroy even his compromise plan. The Manchin plan plus the John LewisJohn LewisArizona Democratic Party passes resolution criticizing Sinema on filibuster, reconciliation Debt ceiling fight pits corporate America against Republicans House Democrats unveil legislation to curtail presidential power MORE bill should unite all Democrats against the massive GOP voter suppression, and the extreme partisan GOP gerrymandering of House seats that is otherwise inevitable.
Regarding infrastructure, Biden and all participating members should claim credit for a bipartisan achievement, and unite behind a reconciliation bill that would be a Democratic compromise between Manchin, prominent liberals including Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDo progressives prefer Trump to compromise? Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks MORE (I-Vt.) and Biden.
In House districts that will bring close races, Democrats should resist the temptation to run primaries against other Democrats that could well lead to Republicans being elected.
There should be far greater emphasis on major fundraising for large and small donors alike, including a nationally televised telethon, to support both progressive and moderate candidates, and provide maximum support for candidate recruitment.
All Democrats should back major intraparty compromises to maximize unity. We should treat the 2022 campaign as a great cause for civil rights, equal rights, democracy and voting rights — and economic, health care and environmental policies to lift and protect all Americans, as we did to win the 2018 midterms by landslide margins.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives.