As I am watching the horror show known as the Trump Administration, I wonder what can I do, what can we all do, as Democrats to fight back and to make sure that we will never be in this position again. I also shake my head as I listen to people who are still mired in the vitriol from this past election season. I’m not talking about Republicans, either; I’m talking about us, the Democrats and others on the left side of the political spectrum.
Some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters are pointing fingers at Bernie Sanders and his supporters in the party for her defeat when, in fact, she won the popular vote and most Berniecrats voted for her in the General Election. Berniecrats, conversely, are pointing fingers at the Hillary diehards for not treating Sanders and his followers with respect and thus turning off many young and first-time voters. There are plenty of hurt feelings to go around and much discussion about the multiple reasons for the loss of not only the presidency but of a record number of seats in Congress, state and local governments. The party is at its lowest point since the 1920s. Are we going to just stew in resentment and defeatism?
Every cloud has a silver lining, or so they say. I think the silver lining in our current mess is that Anti -Trump sentiment has activated and energized so many people, especially the young and previously unpolitical. Starting with the Women’s March in D.C. and the 600 sister marches around the country and the world, the surge of sheer determination has been incredible. Saying, “Where were they before the election” or “It won’t last” is the type of thinking that keeps us from moving on. Democrats need to learn to surf this wave or we will drown in the undertow. But how?
A group of former congressional staffers have put together a guide to making your voice heard. They recommend starting locally and targeting your representatives on every town, county, state and Congressional level. The Indivisible Guide is available on line and offers a wealth of tips. https://www.indivisibleguide.com/
In addition to the Guide, there are now over a 1,000 local Indivisible groups working together in their localities, including right here in Summerville as well as a Charleston group that covers the tri county area. MoveOn is another group that organizes people from diverse organizations to fight the Trump agenda. Locally they sponsor an action every week called “Anti Trump Tuesdays” which has so far concentrated on communicating our position to our two Senators, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, as well as Representative Mark Sanford, by holding rallies and delivering petitions to their offices. While Graham and Scott’s offices have been polite if not too responsive, Sanford has agreed to requests for a Town Hall. It will be interesting to see how fair he will be.
It seems this type of pressure works. As activists have been showing up at Republican town halls (and some Democratic ones), the representatives have had their feet put to the fire. They are sweating it because they know from their experience with the Tea Party movement that when people are this angry, they will continue to apply pressure and they will vote and motivate others to do so. Passion inspires passion and that passion is coming from an organic grassroots movement.
That grassroots movement is virulently anti-Trump but it is also pro little “d” democratic. Everything that our party does and should stand for is exemplified by this people-driven bottom up energy. We must find common cause (and there is much), welcome and embrace the new, and move beyond the way it has always been done before. This is a new era and we are faced with not just a crisis in our party but a national crisis. We must resist the Trump agenda every day but we must also work to offer an alternative that will present an opportunity for many voices to be heard.
- Debbie Lodge, 1st Vice Chair of DCDP