Every December, The Atlantic looks back on the previous year—to highlight not just the big moments, but the progression of big ideas. Below, the first of four installments looks at the year in party politics.
The 2016 presidential election shocked Americans nationwide—and spurred a reshaping of both parties. As Democrats reeled from the loss and tried to figure out where they’d gone wrong, Republicans found themselves in power—but with an unpredictable president at the helm.
In 2017, Democrats and Republicans alike had to navigate a Donald Trump presidency, temper competing factions within each party, and try to achieve policy aims—always with an eye toward the 2018 midterms.
Here are the stories that tracked each party’s development over the course of the year.
The Democratic Party
At the start of 2017, Democrats were facing what Clare Foran called a “daunting future.” Ronald Brownstein wrote about how the party would have to adjust post-Obama. And Michelle Cottle argued that, put plainly, “Democrats Are Unprepared for the Trump Era.”
By Inauguration Day, though, at least one thing was certain: Democrats “were not isolated in their undiminished opposition to Trump,” argued Ronald Brownstein. Conor Friedersdorf wrote that an estimated 3 million people took to the streets across the country, constituting a victory for the activist left. Later, Russell Berman explained how those same progressives were “forcing Senate Democrats into action.”