All the pundits are writing about what Eric Cantor's loss means to the Republican Party. Democratic politicians are wisely keeping quiet, not wanting to appear like they're gloating at someone else's misfortune. But it's a two party system, what does this mean for the Democrats in years to come?
First, and you heard it here, this means the Democrats can take back the House of Representatives. Not to mention locking in the Senate and the presidency. Not right away, not even in 2016. But it's coming, if they don't blow it.
There are a number of reasons. Hordes of news reports, studies, and prognostications all detail the same inevitable American future, coming just as surely as global warming if we don't do anything. Hispanics are moving quickly to become a massive force in American life in every sector including politics; demographics don't lie. You can spin this any way you want, but the numbers are numbers, and they are all trending in one direction.
And what is the Republican response, thanks to Brat's election? Instead of doing more outreach, they're now going to be scared into doing whatever they can to alienate members of this group even further, becoming the champions of anti-immigrant rhetoric. And while they're at it, they will also push away the other up and coming cohort, Asian-American voters. Despite their feeble protests, Republicans have to recognize that Bart is now the most famous and well-covered member of their party for a while. He becomes their public face, his rhetoric the party's platform. Think his positions are going to go over well in the newly formed communities?
But that's not all. Cantor was the only Jewish Republican in Congress, and now he's gone. He was the outreach to the small but important Jewish Republican cohort. I don't think they will automatically start voting for the party of Jefferson and Jackson. But they may not vote for the GOP either, staying home, without the personal outreach Cantor provided. Keep in mind that Brat prides himself on bringing Christ into his political mix, explaining many of his views with a Christian context. A friend of mine, who it turns out lives in the 7th Virginia district, emailed me with a report on Tuesday, and referred to Bart as someone "who among other things wants us all to turn Protestant so we can have a more prosperous country."
There's one other issue. Cantor was one of the best fundraisers in Washington, and now he's gone. And a lot of this, not all, came from Jewish donors. Again, they're not sending their contributions to Bernie Saunders, but they may not be writing checks for a while.
So what can Democrats do to make this a reality? It's close but still so far. And there are no sure bets (just ask Eric Cantor's pollster). Every part of their coalition has a role to play.
Hispanics can improve the chances for immigration reform by committing everything to a registration and vote campaign. Demonstrations can move people in power, and rally the troops, but absolutely nothing gets their attention like election victories. If Texas, with its huge Hispanic population starts shifting Democratic, the shock wave will be as big as the one this week, but in the other direction. Unions used to launch massive election day effort to bring their members to the polls, and became powerful players in Democratic Party politics.
African-Americans, too, have to join the campaign to fix the immigration system, in full force and with all their resources. There are a number of reasons this would benefit their community. First, many of the obstacles to voting put up by Republicans are geared towards blocking minorities -- all and any minorities. Eliminating these bogus rules will empower many different communities. Second, if Hispanics grow in strength, and the black community has demonstrated its support and friendship, both sides have new and powerful allies. Third, let us be clear, the same folks who are anti-immigration reform aren't going to have a black neighbor over for tea. This may be the most potent factor of all. And the most personal.
Finally, President Obama needs to switch his rhetoric. Many people in America are angry. Things are insecure. Jobs are still not coming, and the ones that do pay low salaries. Wall Street booms and scoundrels are unindicted. Blame gets thrown around like confetti, more a symptom of conditions than rational analysis. Illegal immigrants are stealing my job. The deficit will destroy America for my kids. The Affordable Care Act is un-American.
If there is one thing that will have an impact on this mood it is employment. Yes, most moves will be blocked by Congress, but the president and Democratic leaders have to make clear that nothing trumps jobs, that they are fighting for more and better work for Americans, constantly trying and proposing plans to get Americans a paycheck.
There are a lot of pieces in play. But with grand opportunities.