If you are like me and following the 2016 closely, you may very well be at a loss for what happened on Election Night. Hillary Clinton, who had a stable lead was blindsided and lost Presidency to Donald Trump. There are very few silver linings in the results from the Election. But, here are a couple: First, Tammy Duckworth is now Senator-Elect from Illinois, re-capturing Barack Obama’s old Senate seat. Second, Maggie Hassen, unseated Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. Democrats picked up two Senate seats and lost none. Finally, Hillary Clinton is on course to win the popular vote, by as many as 1 million votes. More than Gore in 2000.
Though, these few rays of light are not likely to make many smile in the coming days and weeks. The way our electoral system works is old and archaic (for another post). Donald Trump is now the President-Elect and unfortunately, we have to start dealing with this reality.
What made this election and Donald Trump’s campaign unlike any in modern history, is nature of the vitriol and hate which he seethed. Donald Trump brought out the worst in people, on both sides of the aisle. However, the biggest take away is that he gave voice to the racists, anti-Semites, bigots, sexists and homophobes. They now have a place in the soon-to-be Trump White House.
Before I continue, let me say that not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, bigoted, sexist, antisemitic, homohobe. Yet, their vote for him, has legitimized those people and President-Elect Trump’s vitriol. Never once during his campaign did he try to distance himself from those people and so, even if you don’t feel that way, you have to own your vote for him. This is your doing.
However, there is a lot of blame to go around and in the days, weeks, and months to come we will hear a lot about how Clinton is to blame, the DNC is to blame, the FBI is to blame, etc. It doesn’t matter. Let me repeat this…It does not matter who is to blame. “Blame is like horse shit, there’s always enough to spread around.” What has to happen now, and quickly is for the Democratic party to come together and move forward.
If you are a Democrat or a disaffected Republican, we have to work together in the coming months and years to defeat Trumpism. This doesn’t start at the White House or Congress. This starts in our own backyards. It starts in our towns and cities. It starts with our neighbors, friends and family.
We must work together. We must learn to understand what attracted people to vote for this man. Then we must use that knowledge to our benefit to build a stronger and more united Democratic Party. Initial exit polling data suggests that the poor voted overwhelmingly for Clinton while those making over 50k voted for Trump. However, there is a big caveat, white women. White, college-educated women voted for Trump over Clinton. Why? White non-college educated men and women voted overwhelmingly for Trump. WHY? What did they see in him?
Democrats need answer these questions first before moving on. Once we have those answers, a plan can be formulated. The Democratic Party is now the Party of FDR, Kennedy, Clinton and Obama. These are five of the most consequential Presidents in modern history. We are this party because the poor and disaffected saw hope in our message. They saw that Democrats understood what they were going through and wanted to help. Unfortunately, that message did not resonate this year. Hate resonated. Fear resonated. When those to ideas are what causes people to vote only the worst outcome can prevail.
I have read and seen a lot of articles about how the Democratic Party is now in a free fall. I don’t believe it. We lost an election. But, the party is still alive and kicking. Let this election be a learning opportunity. Let the party of FDR and Obama learn from the mistakes of this election and move forward.
Many are asking how. How do we put our best foot forward and move toward defeating Trumpism? Simple… we talk. We talk to people. We put the best people possible up for election all over the country. We take back state houses. That has to be priority in the next two year. States such as Ohio, WI, FL, AZ, GA, MA, ME, WV, NM, NV, and AR have to be put into play. Winning these state houses will help expand the electoral map in a Presidential year.
The Democratic party can do something amazing with this defeat. We can remake ourselves into the party of EVERYONE. We can become that party that welcomes progressives and conservatives and moderates without abandoning the progressive ideals for which it was built. There are sensible Republicans out there who are looking for a reason to leave the GOP. We have to give them that reason.
Can Democrats incorporate sensible conservative ideas into broad policy? Absolutely, and we must. Now, I am an unabashed liberal. I have been my entire life. But, to survive we have to evolve, like all species. The GOP is not evolving, in fact, it is devolving. We have to stop this polarization of ideals and move to the center. It’s only in the center where things can be accomplished.
Before anyone says, “but they obstructed Obama for 8 years…” blah, blah, blah. They did. And, that’s what we must do to Trump. We must go on offensive. We must make our voices louder than the bloviator-in-chief. Democrats must be on the air on all the shows and they must be louder than the victors. They must continue to point out Trump’s failings and his hypocrisy. They must do this.
Finally, we cannot let what we are feeling now go away. It is a fire that is burning, and it must be used to create a lasting legacy. We sat on our laurels this year. Turnout was down, we got complacent. We thought that it was all sown up. We were wrong.