The Ku Klux Klan is planning to march in North Carolina. Donald Trump has not yet been inaugurated and he’s already exploiting the presidency for profit. Republicans are busy making plans to strip away health insurance from 20 million Americans. So Democrats are the last institution standing between democracy and a dystopian mash-up of auto-kleptocracy. Here are three things they need to do immediately.

One: Stop Panicking

The party is not in “shambles,” as Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee recently told The New York Times. A look at voter turnout coupled with significant — and startling — shifts from red to blue in exurban southern counties shows just the opposite. Initial reports following the election said that turnout was down significantly in 2016 from 2012. But now that many of the votes have been counted — it takes weeks to tally a presidential election — we know that turnout actually increased by more than 3.5 percent. We also know that Hillary Clinton earned about 2 million votes more than Donald Trump. By the time you read this, her margin will likely exceed 2.5 million. This is more than George W. Bush’s margin over John Kerry in 2004, when Bush claimed voters had given him a mandate.

More significantly, demographic trends favor the Democrats. Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, went blue in 2008 and 2012, when Barack Obama won the county by narrow margins — just 912 votes in 2012. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won by more than 160,000 votes, a 12-point margin that was greater than George W. Bush’s two victories in the county in 2000 and 2004. Clinton also increased Democratic vote totals in Davidson County, Tennessee, which includes Nashville, by 18,610 votes over 2012, Fulton County, Georgia, which includes parts of Atlanta, increased its Democratic share by 125,075 votes since 2012. Perhaps most shocking, though, was Clinton’s win in Cobb County, Georgia, by two points. Cobb County has long been a rich source of GOP money and votes, and Mitt Romney won the county by 12 points in 2012. This trend was seen throughout the country in counties with high concentrations of voters with a college degree.

Clinton ultimately lost the only vote that counts, though, when Trump's victory in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin lost her the Electoral College. But his margin in Michigan, where votes are still being counted, currently stands at just 9,528 votes. It's even smaller in Wisconsin, at 27,190 votes. To win in 2020, Democrats may not need to do anything more complex than remember to campaign in these states.

Two: Stop Rewriting History

In the post-election panic set off by Trump’s wins in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, it's become accepted as fact that the Democratic Party has little to offer Rust Belt Americans who can’t find work. In a meeting with a group of liberal Democrats called the Democratic Alliance, Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren criticized her party for its failure to negotiate a better deal on the stimulus bill passed in the Great Recession. But it’s hard to negotiate with people whose commitment is to not striking a deal. In Robert Draper’s book “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside The U.S. House Of Representatives," he describes a meeting held by leading Republicans the night before Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2008. As the economy was in free fall, Republicans pledged to “show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies," Draper reports. He goes on to describe how Minority Whip Eric Cantor led House Republicans in unanimous opposition to the economic stimulus.

In a September podcast interview with David Axelrod, former Congressman Barney Frank confirms the frustration of trying to work with Republicans to get much-needed bank regulations passed: “That bill passed the United States senate with no votes to spare. It needed 60 votes, and it got three Republican votes — Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins,” Frank said. The three Republicans voted as a block, so Democrats had no leverage to make the bill “any tougher.” As for breaking up the banks, Franks says, “Nobody was arguing about doing that right then. We were in 2009 and 2010 when we were doing this. Still in a terrible financial crisis. Loans weren't being made. The notion that you would do something so disruptive, when you're losing 800,000 jobs a month? Nobody was talking about that.”

In 2011, Republicans applied their obstructionist approach to Obama’s massive jobs, education, and infrastructure bill. Obama unsuccessfully tried to get pieces of it through by breaking it up. This is when the president was reduced to issuing executive orders that impact federal contractors to push a progressive economic agenda: paid sick leavefair and safe workplacesmaking it illegal to retaliate against those who disclose their compensation, an increased minimum wagereducing regulatory burdensreducing permitting time for infrastructure projectspromoting diversity in the workforce, and increasing employment of people with disabilities.

If the Democratic Party rewrites history and ignores voting trends that have been underway for several cycles, it risks overcorrecting to the left. Those who remember the names McGovern and Mondale will tell you that this sort of thing never ends well.   

Three: Stop Acting Desperate

During the Democratic primary campaign, Independent Vermont Seneator Bernie Sanders rhetorically bludgeoned Clinton for her support of a $12 minimum wage in some areas of the country and a $15 minimum in others. He insisted that anything less than $15 an hour was an insult to American workers. Trump is not yet president — indeed, there are active efforts underway to get the Electoral College to reject him — and Sanders has already capitulated to a $10 an hour minimum wage. A sum, it’s worth pointing out, that is ten cents an hour less than the minimum wage set for federal contractors under Obama’s executive order.

These kinds of tactics reek of weakness and desperation. They also signal a lack of vision. In a fiery statement, outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid sized up what it means to work with a president who won the office by appealing to America’s ugly, racist Id:

I have personally been on the ballot in Nevada for 26 elections, and I have never seen anything like the reaction to the election completed last Tuesday. The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America. White nationalists, Vladimir Putin, and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear — especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans, and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America. ... 

If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate. Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans. Donald Trump may not possess the capacity to assuage those fears, but he owes it to this nation to try. If Trump wants to roll back the tide of hate he unleashed, he has a tremendous amount of work to do, and he must begin immediately.

Indeed. Democrats are the only ones in office who can hold this line. And they must if we want to hold on to some semblance of what this country can be for all its citizens.