Missing The Momentum

It’s been five months since the 2018 midterm elections. On November 6, Democrats retook control of the U.S. House by a historic popular vote total. It truly was a moment to savor. 

So today, why don’t I feel more confident that last November’s wins were the beginning of a new direction for our United States? Is it just a passing mood? Is it because I’m looking out my window at a depressingly gray February day — in April? Or is it because our Democratic Party leaders are being quieter than they should? 

I realize that our new U.S. House has only been on the job for three months. Still, they quickly began working on bills that could impact our lives in positive ways if common ground can be found with enough Republicans in the Senate.  

But we’ve yet to hear about legislative proposals to tackle the “biggest” issues that excited so many voters last year. Perhaps I’m expecting too much too soon. Even so, I would like to feel that the buzz generated by our winning candidates last fall is being nurtured by our party’s leaders and strategists right now. 

Of course, since the Republican Party controls both the U.S. Senate and the White House, they can dominate what the public perceives as our nation’s agenda. (And when the person sitting in the White House is Donald Trump, even Republican Party leaders can’t be sure from one day to the next what their President’s stated priorities will be.) 

President Trump has a headline-grabbing penchant for encouraging chaos virtually each day. This is certainly one more reason the public hasn’t gotten their collective mind around the progress that our new Democratic House pledged they would pursue during their campaigns. 

The thing is, back in November, we Democrats sensed a momentum that felt great. 

Most of our Democratic candidates, incumbents and newcomers, showed a discipline and a unity in presenting their positions that resonated with voters. Their campaigns chose not to waste time attacking Donald Trump, his personal life or his qualifications for impeachment (or imprisonment). Instead they spoke to issues that will affect the lives of every American far into the future. They spoke of protecting and improving our nation’s healthcare; they pledged to pay serious attention to the existential threat of climate change; they condemned the shocking disrepair of our nation’s infrastructure; they recognized the disaffection felt by far too many Americans toward government in general. 

The men and women elected into the 116th Congress brought in new backgrounds, new perspectives, new energy to address America’s very real needs. But so far in 2019, it seems to me we’ve heard very little discussion of those needs by our Party’s leaders. They are issues fundamental to building a better future – and speaking about them was key in winning over so many voters last fall. 

Yes, there are new members of Congress who are presenting their personal proposals for addressing our nation’s most wide-ranging problems, and they’re getting noticed. And there are now eighteen (and counting) declared presidential candidates who are beginning to present their visions for future actions to be taken. 

I know it is too soon to expect Speaker Pelosi’s House to present detailed bills to deal with the huge problems we face. However, I would really welcome statements from our Democratic Party’s leadership that clearly define the goals we aspire to achieve. 

I want to feel that momentum again.

Nels Howard, NTD Member Since 1973