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The symbol of the Demo­c­ratic Party/Wikimedia

Come January, the Democrats will once again control the House and they need to do all they can to fend off the Trump administration’s destructive agenda.

The Demo­c­ratic Party should start by addressing the tens of thou­sands of Amer­icans who die each year because they lack access to affordable health insurance.

A landmark sta­tis­tical study pub­lished in 2009 by the American Journal of Public Health com­pared death rates of insured and unin­sured Amer­icans. After con­trolling for various factors, the study found that every one million unin­sured Amer­icans is cor­re­lated with nearly 1,000 extra deaths. Under the Affordable Care Act, the number of unin­sured plum­meted from 46 million in 2009 to 28 million in 2017.

While the Trump-led repeal of the ACA failed even with Repub­lican control in Con­gress, only Democrats can stand in the way of the GOP’s efforts to dis­mantle Oba­macare, by leg­is­lation or exec­utive order.

Democrats also need to end the GOP’s dam­aging mil­itary action abroad. Trump has pro­posed expanded mil­itary budgets, which were hastily approved by Con­gress, each year of his pres­i­dency.  The U.S. mil­itary has flat­tened cities like Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria to expel the remains of ISIS’s regime, exac­er­bating the refugee problem and killing thou­sands.

Since August 2014, Airwars, an inde­pendent orga­ni­zation that tracks civilian casu­alties, has col­lected reports of more than 26,594 innocent civilian deaths attrib­utable to the U.S. coalition in the Middle East. And the vast majority of these deaths occurred during U.S. coalition strikes after Trump took office. According to October’s report, “at least 98 civilian non-com­batants” were killed in coalition attacks that month.

Democrats could restrict the mil­itary by rejecting budgets that raise defense spending and demanding more account­ability through the control of House com­mittees.

Trump’s decision to cozy up to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is proof that Democrats must act. In 2017, he nego­tiated an agreement to sell $110 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia over the next 10 years. Saudi Arabia then uses those weapons to wage war against Yemen — apol­o­gizing only when the media decides to care.

Saudi Arabia has also blockaded the important Yemeni port, Hodeida, which means com­merce and aid cannot enter the world’s fifth poorest country. This has led to massive cholera out­breaks and has put 13 million people at high risk for star­vation in just a few short months.

The U.S. isn’t innocent either: The Trump admin­is­tration finally ended its direct refu­eling program in Yemen last month after pressure from American activists protesting the death of Wash­ington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was mur­dered at the behest of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman.Without U.S. support, Saudi Arabia couldn’t justify starving another 85,000 Yemeni children.

With control of the House, Democrats can work to end U.S. involvement in Yemen and encourage Saudi Arabia to do the same, poten­tially saving an entire gen­er­ation from star­vation. A similar bill is popular in a Repub­lican-con­trolled Senate, leaving the Democrats with no excuse.

Democrats should also revive over­sight of Immi­gra­tions and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.), which now has the ability to subject all undoc­u­mented immi­grants living in the U.S. for two years or less to “expe­dited removal,” a process that essen­tially elim­i­nates due process and the right to appear before a judge. Before Trump, I.C.E. reserved expe­dited removal for illegal immi­grants found near a border who arrived in the U.S. less than 14 days before their arrest.

Admin­is­tering proper over­sight of the National Security Agency, which reg­u­larly ignores con­sti­tu­tional limits on sur­veil­lance, should be another Demo­c­ratic reform.

With their recent election gains, Democrats have many more oppor­tu­nities to help those suf­fering at the behest of the U.S. But it would require a huge shift for the party. Democrats must be more than a reaction to Trump’s agenda; they must show a new face with a new vision. They must start caring about these people.

After all, it was former Pres­ident Barack Obama, the Demo­c­ratic champion with a charis­matic legacy, who left mil­lions unin­sured under the ACA, expanded and mul­ti­plied the drone program, bro­kered a $60 billion arms deal with the Saudis, refused to curb an unjust immi­gration system, and oversaw a massive, uncon­sti­tu­tional, domestic spying appa­ratus.

Democrats must refuse reac­tionary pol­itics and embrace a new, life-saving, bold political program that treats Amer­icans and the world’s people with the dignity they deserve. They must embrace and promote Medicare for all, a humane approach to immi­gration, and a con­sistent and diplo­matic foreign policy that centers on human rights rather than cheap oil. They must brave Trump’s savage pol­itics. They must become the party that cares.

Cal Abbo is a sophomore studying the liberal arts

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    The ACA has been a costly dis­aster, but it’s a perfect fig­urehead program for the Democrat Party. I predict the majority Dems in the House will do little sub­stantive leg­is­lation and will instead focus on endless, mean­ingless inves­ti­ga­tions of all things Trump. They’ll be a minority party again in 2020.