As President Donald Trump takes office and a new Congress dawns, Democrats face what seems to be an insurmountable strategic disadvantage. As the minority party in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, they lack all the traditional tools for keeping an executive in check: no committee chairmanships, no subpoena power, and no control over the legislative agenda.
But Democrats should still take heart: they've been here before and won.
In the fall of 2004, Democrats were also pinned to the mat and flailing. President George W. Bush had just eked out a second-term win, edging out John Kerry. The race came down to a single state—Ohio—and a margin of just 136,000 votes. By the time a devastated Kerry conceded the race to Bush, Republicans had also strengthened their hold on the Senate by four seats—to a fifty-five-member majority—and bolstered their control of the House, outnumbering Democrats 232 to 203.