I had planned to write today about the various mistakes the Democrats have made and what they need to fix going forward. Then I realized that the first part was covered in a previous article, and the second part was already planned to be covered in this one. So here you are.
We’ve got four years, friends. Four years to try and remake the Democratic party into something better, that can appeal to a broader base. It’s not going to be easy, but we have to try, because the alternative is two terms of a man who’s decided that white nationalism is just fine.
So we’d best get our shit together because we really need to win four years from now.
We Need to Stop Ignoring Key Demographics
“…in their desperation they turned to a man they didn’t fully understand. Some men aren’t looking for anything logical. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” – Alfred, The Dark Knight
It turns out that largely rural, largely poor, largely white voters are still largely voting in large numbers. The time will come when they’re less relevant and outnumbered by others, but for now, they’re quite powerful.
This is the most important lesson to learn from this election, and we ignore it at our peril. The rural parts of this nation are suffering. They’re desperate, and it’s quite understandable that they are. And as I said the other day, the Republicans respond to this desperation by pandering and promising the moon, the delivering about 60 attempts to repeal Obamacare. The Democrats respond to it by ignoring these people or mocking them as backwards hicks.
This has to change. Trump is no on these peoples’ side, as they’re about to learn. When 2020 rolls around, they’re going to be primed to vote Democrat, but only if we can make it clear to them that we’re they’re best hope, and offer them something other than despair.
Now this doesn’t mean that we have to neglect other demographics. We can still stick up for minorities in all forms. This isn’t a zero-sum game. We can push for plans that will help everyone in need; not just urban blacks and Latinos, but also rural whites.
Yes, this will require a lot more effort than the usual from Democrats, but we can pull it off. We have to, or we’re basically fucked.
We Need to Stand Up to the Worst of Trump
Let’s be honest here: Trump is going to nominate some terrible people for cabinet positions and for the Supreme Court. For now ignore the fact that the Republicans stole an appointment that should have rightly belonged to Obama and answer me this: how are Trump’s horrible nominations likely to be any worse than those of, say, president-elect Ted Cruze? Or Marco Rubio? Or Mitt Romney?
No matter who the Republicans picked as their presidential choice, that person was going to appoint a whole lot of people we liberals don’t like and don’t want in office. This is annoying, but it is what it is and we can’t really prevent it, so let’s not waste time trying.
Let us instead focus on the worst parts of Trump: the racism, sexism, xenophobia, “ignorant and proud of it” attitude, the tendencies toward retribution and violence, and a total lack of understanding of how politics works and what the president actually does.
Let’s focus on those things, and devote our energies utterly toward stopping them. It will remind Americans who we are, and who they are, and will position us well for the future.
We Need to Recognize and Deal With Certain Unsavory Facts
I don’t believe that most people who voted for Trump did so because they are sexist, racist, xenophobic, or anything like that. I believe they either a: genuinely thought he was the best choice, or b: was at least better than Hillary.
But the fact is that by voting for someone who was willing to demonize others by using racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc, language, they’ve given tacit approval for Trump to continue to do so. Not just that, but they’ve given him tacit approval to act on those beliefs. They have, essentially, said, “Yeah, ok, we’ll ignore your racism because damn those emails!”
If you voted for Trump, you said that these behaviors mean less to you than…whatever else you believe. That’s a real problem, and that’s something we on the left need to deal with.
We need to, as often and loudly as possible, make it clear that these beliefs and the actions they generate are not acceptable in a free and open society. They way we need to do that is make sure that no one forgets what Trump has said, doesn’t forget what he will say in the future, and that we hold him accountable for any actions that he takes based on these stupid beliefs.
And while we’re at it…
Reach Across the Aisle
Trump is horrible, awful, and unaccptable.Whatever mild hopes I had that he might be a decent president went out the window with the announcement that Stephen Bannon would be working for him. Seriously, fuck that guy.
Some of us are hoping to hold out until 2018 and recapture the House and Senate. While that’s a laudable goal, and we should certainly vote correctly in 2018, it’s not realistic to think that we’re going to recapture anything. The demographics of gerrymandering make it quite likely we’re going to lose seats in 2018.
Therefore we need to reach out to moderate and sane Republicans and get them on our side. Remember that it’s not just liberals who recoil in horror from Trump and what he represents; so do no small number of Republicans.
We need to approach these people and work with them on every issue we can, because if we don’t offer them someplace to go, you can bet that they’ll wind up, however reluctantly, on Team Trump, and we don’t want that.
And while we may not agree on anything, there are plenty of Republicans who will be happy to stand up against any plans Trump has to, say, round up Muslims, or bar them from entering the country, or prevent them from practicing their religion.
There are Republicans out there that we can and must work with. This is essential.
Grooming Our Next Leader
It sounds like Keith Ellison, a young, black, Muslim member of the House from Minnesota, is well-placed to be the next head of the DNC. Good. This shows a lot about who Democrats are and what we stand for, and I suggest that we double-down on this.
I know the tendency is to think that we need to play it safe with our nominee in 2020. That we need to go back to another white male, whomever that might be. I can understand that temptation, but there’s no reason to continue down that path.
Yes, if someone like white male Gavin Newsom wants to run, great. But let’s not forget about black men like Corey Booker, Hispanic men like Julian Castro, or women like Tammy Duckworth. These would all be fine choices, and would certainly help with the base.
Fuck the Fucking Boomers
On a final note, let’s stop having Boomer presidents, shall we? Clinton was fine, W was terrible, and Obama was fine, but I have no faith that Trump will be anything good. 50% of the presidents from that generation are, or are likely to be, terrible. I could do without this trend continuing.
The oldest members of Generation X will be in their early 50s come 2020. It’s our turn to lead. The Boomers have been just….awful. It’s time for us to step up, interject a new energy, and be the amazing leaders we can be.
This will help to get the youth vote out, too, I think. It’s hard for a person who is 20 to believe that someone who is 70 really gets them an their needs (though not impossible, see Sanders, Bernie), but it’s perhaps more plausible for them to think that someone is 50 and come of age along with the early days of the Internet might understand them better. Someone who grew up on Mario games would be a bit more relateable than someone who grew up watching Howdy Doody.
We have a lot of work to do. We need to reign in the worst of Trump’s excesses and horrible tendencies, and we need to position ourselves for the future. 2018 is probably lost, but 2020 isn’t that far away, and with determination, we can win it.