What Dems Can Learn from the GOP

Need to better protect policy gains, anticipate attacks

Vanessa Gallman
3 min readJun 5


Image by Larisa from Pixabay

This country dodged a dangerous situation with the 11th-hour bipartisan agreement on raising the debt ceiling. The right-wing House contingent was exposed as a paper tiger. And the House speaker faced the reality that he needs Democratic support to set policy and, maybe, keep his job.

Yet, President Joe Biden and the Democrats did not have to be in a situation where Republicans threatened to blow up the global economy by refusing to pay the bills Congress and several administrations had approved.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had called on Congress to raise the debt limit when Democrats still had control of the House. But they didn’t, making a bad bet that a fractious House GOP wouldn’t get unified to even demand negotiations.

Democrats seem to have a pattern of not thinking strategically. When in power, they rightly get excited about new programs and policies to solve problems. But they don’t pay enough attention to the landmines being hidden in their wake.

Republicans, on the other hand, know how to plan for contingencies, planting explosive policies that blow up at inopportune times. They use think tanks and grassroots groups to make under-the-radar change to undermine progress.

A perfect example is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn federal abortion rights. It took 50 years to get the conservative court in place to make that happen. And when it did, many Southern states had already passed laws to ban abortion the moment the court ruled it was now a state matter.

Yet in the decades of anti-abortion violence, protests and lawsuits, Democrats and other supporters did not make reproductive rights the law of the land. While there is now growing backlash against abortion bans, there aren’t enough Congress members willing to vote to protect reproductive rights.

Another example is the 1965 Voting Rights Act, that has been shredded by recent court decisions allowing states — even those with a long history of electoral mischief — to find ways to disenfranchise minorities, city residents and young people. Recent efforts to pass a voting righs…



Vanessa Gallman

Experienced journalist, educator and retired opinion-page editor with occasional musings