Election night was a disaster. Trump was and is perhaps the closest to a caricature of the apathetic elite we have in politics today. This is a man who has spent his life gaming the system to stuff his own pockets. He not only doesn’t pay taxes, he brags about it. This is a man who has stiffed hundred of workers and shipped jobs overseas whenever it suited him.
Yet still when asked to choose between this man and the Democratic choice, large portions of this country chose Trump. They thought the man who was on trial for fraud (since settled for $25 million) was more trustworthy. To lose at all would have been a setback, losing to trump is something much worse. It’s proof that the Democratic Party has completely failed.
The situation is even more dire when you consider the party’s standing beyond the presidency. Despite having a favorable map Democrats failed to regain control of the US senate. Gerrymandering has effectively locked them out of control over the US house. In January, they will control only sixteen governorships and even less state legislatures. There is no way around it, the Democratic party is in a dark place. Gerrymandering has certainly played a significant role in getting us here but it can only be used as an excuse for so long. After all, you can’t gerrymander a state or a US Senate seat. One thing is clear, what we’ve been doing isn’t working. To many it seems the Democratic party just doesn’t have their interests in mind, it seems that they just don’t care.
There is one silver lining in all of this, when our ideas are put on the ballot, they win. In Arizona, voters chose to raise their minimum wage to $12 an hour and expand paid sick leave. The referendum passed by a margin of more than 17%, Trump won the state by four points. In Maine, a state that sent electoral college votes to Trump, voters chose to both raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour and increase taxes on those making more than $200,000. Results like this show that it’s not that voters disagree with the party’s stances, it’s that they don’t believe Democrats mean what they say. The challenge we face is building a party around these ideas and convincing the American people we mean it. Convincing them that no matter what, we have their back.
In order to accomplish this we need to have party leadership that embraces these policies but we also need leadership that can be trusted. The party needs to redirect its efforts to not just top of the ballot races but to all levels of government. We have to push for seats in state legislatures, we need to compete for governorships, and most importantly we need to organize our grassroots to work hard every year. It’s because of this, that myself and YDRI are supporting Keith Ellison for DNC chair.
Ellison has been a champion of working families his whole life. He worked as a civil rights lawyer after graduating college. He has been one of the strongest supporters of the fight for $15. He pushed for debt free college tuition well before almost anyone else did. Most importantly though he is an experienced organizer with a proven record.
When Keith speaks he speaks to the need to build a party that fights for all of us. A party where everyone counts, and everyone matters. A party that doesn’t exist to serve wealthy campaign contributors but rather working people, young people, and people of all races. We saw the effect a campaign built around this could have during the primary. Bernie Sanders ran on a strong progressive platform and he won this state by 54 percent. He activated thousands of volunteers across the country to knock on doors and make phone calls. Imagine what could be accomplished with a party fighting the same way?
To not choose Ellison would be a tacit admission that we have learned nothing from this election. It would be a doubling down on tactics that have left our party at it’s lowest point in decades. We simply can’t afford this.
This is about more than just a political party, it’s about the people who depend on someone standing up to Republicans. It’s about the child attending a public school who needs someone to fight to make sure her classroom has textbooks and not mold. It’s about the woman who has lived her whole life with a pre-existing condition and is now being told her healthcare will be taken away. It’s about the mother who is working two jobs and eighty hours a week just to put food on the table. They need someone fighting for them.
If you care about these people, now is not the time to make excuses or avoid blame. Now is the time for hard conversations. Now is the time to confront the problems that exist within our own party. Now is the time for new direction and new leadership.
This Thursday is your opportunity to show your support for Keith Ellison for DNC Chair. Join us as we push to build a party that works for all on December 15th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Parlour (1119 N. Main Street, Providence). This event is FREE and open to the public, and supported by the Young Democrats of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Working Families Party, Democratic Socialist Alliance of RI and the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats.