The package of reforms that the incoming House Democratic majority intends to introduce as its symbolic first bill, H.R. 1, contains some of these ideas mixed in with others that I think will muddy the message, but it’s the right kind of beginning. Other proposals, from statehood for the District of Columbia to gerrymandering reform, then make sense as part of the same effort to strengthen representation and fair democratic practice.
This is also the best approach for Democrats in the short term because they’re not in a strong position to retaliate even if an angry activist base wants them to. Despite some losses last month, Republicans remain in control of more governor’s seats and more state legislatures. More important, making things worse right now really is the wrong thing to do. If Democrats follow a course of unrestrained but legal tactics, we could find ourselves embroiled in even more severe dysfunction and a constitutional crisis. Tit for tat is sometimes necessary to enforce norms, but escalation in an already seriously polarized environment is dangerous.
As always, I won’t claim to know what the best election messaging is, but for the next unified Democratic government a robust new Voting Rights Act and D.C. and Puerto Rican statehood need to be at the very top of the agenda.