BY VERN TURNER
Let us not marginalize our return to sanity from the November elections. Yes, Democrats regained the majority in the House of Representatives. Yes, several statehouses and governorships were returned to the party of the people. Yes, the energy to get young people to vote worked. But how decisive was it, really?
The Republicans added a couple seats to their Senate majority even though it was a “favorable” year for them in available Senate races. Republicans “won” the governorships in Florida and Georgia over infinitely more qualified and capable Democratic candidates. Florida, of course, is known for its Keystone Kops elections since the 2000 lunacy. Democrats “only” exceeded the Republican vote count, nationally, by a little over 7% percent in spite of the high voter turnout, the most since the 1970s.
The Trump factor certainly contributed to the win by Democrats, but the margins of victory in most places were very thin and more often than not inside that 7% margin. Does that mean that the American people are finally doing their forehead smack and realizing that voting Republican in general and Donald Trump in particular was notin their best interests. Not really.
Trump’s “popularity” still hovers around 40%. Over 90% of Republicans still think Trump is the man. Those numbers speak volumes about the quality of the electorate’s thinking as much as it does about the framing of the political conversation by the GOP.
In athletics, one of the worst things the winner can do is to become overconfident and arrogant. We thinking people who call ourselves progressive or liberal had better heed that cautionary statement.
The ink was barely dry on the ballots and the election returns that showed a return to a Democratic majority in the House, before some Democrats started whining about having Nancy Pelosi return to the Speakership. “We want new blood in the party leadership!” they said.
While I don’t disagree with that statement, I think the priorities are much more important for the next two years than trying to find a replacement for Nancy Pelosi. Besides, only somebody named Fudge has emerged as an overt challenger.
Additionally, the House Democrats better think long and hard about the “other” scenario: Kevin McCarthy as speaker. That would be just another iteration of Paul Ryan, and we know how wonderful that was. Nancy Pelosi is the most experienced and ruthlessly progressive Democrat in the House and she willget the jobs done. After all, she’s had to endure the slings and arrows of the idiotic, personal Republican attacks on herself and her family.
So, what do Democrats do with their new majorities in the House?
Well, first they have to use their committee chairmanships to expose the Trump crime family for what it is. Forget impeachment. Without a majority in the Senate those hopes and dreams will be dashed on a flat rock known as Mitch McConnell.
Just subpoena the daylights out of the Trump cabal and see what happens. There will be smoking guns and obvious crimes of graft and corruption for the American people to grind on for the next two years. And thatis the idea, the strategy to finish the job and, hopefully, the Republican Party in 2020. That is the way to re-frame the conversation about how far the Republican Party has descended into the pits of lies and outright corruption. Let the American people see and know how corrupt and incompetent the GOP really is.
It’s not just about the stupefying nihilism of Georgia’s voter suppression, or the moronic whining of Florida Republicans regarding their near loss to African-American Democrats. It’s literally about saving democracy from the unbridled clutches of fascism and despotism.
There’s more. The House Democrats must craft legislation that deconstructs the moronic and wrong-headed economics of our nation that the Republicans rammed through both houses of Congress. Yes, the Senate and the president [small “p” is on purpose in this case] will veto all of it. Not to worry, because when the “new” strategy for winning in 2020 is implemented, the Senate will belong to the Democrats as will the White House.
Having the new, repair everything legislation ready, it will zip through and become law quickly. At least, all of this is my hope and dream.
Back in the not-too-distant past, Howard Dean promoted the 50-state strategy. That meant that the Democratic Party campaigned everywhere. Remember the Truman campaign of 1948? Thomas Dewey was, according to the polls, the prohibitive favorite to win the presidential election that year. Well, Harry Truman was having none of that and got on the train. He whistle-stopped his way across the country and spoke to the citizens, face-to-face. No tightly organized and sanitized “rallies.” He just went out to Smallville and asked for the votes of the people.
He won. Unlike the pathetic Democratic Party performance in 2016, the Truman campaign showed how to win “fly-over” country.
The people in the Midwest are struggling right now, because most of the career opportunities and money have migrated to the coasts and the big cities. Those folks are still grinding out ever-declining livings from ever-declining resources.
Democrats need to go there and show these good people how they are on their side and how they’ve been had by the disingenuous Republicans all these years. Ask them why they think their farm product prices are so low and declining. That should get their attention.
In 2016, the Democratic Party “leaders” headed by Tom Perez chose to campaign little or not at all in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Why? Because the party thought they were safe and they thought that having Donald Trump as an opponent was a slam-dunk with Clinton as their candidate. This turned out to be the most devastating miscalculation in recent memory, didn’t it?
First of all, the selection process of the Democratic Party is so political that it ignored the sure-fire candidate of the people, Bernie Sanders. The “it’s her turn” mentality of the DNC, led by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, turned out to be fatally flawed. Pundits smarter than I showed Sanders beating Trump by nearly 20 percentage points.
The Electoral College, flawed as it is, would have been a landslide for Sanders and we wouldn’t be wasting ink, electrons and air time talking and writing about some disreputable bully who is doing what he always did: con people and cheat them. Well done, DNC.
We now ride the crest of the blue wave. I don’t care what the so-called conservatives say about minimizing this electoral win. Under the circumstances, it’s a big deal.
We have women, minorities and the younger voters to thank for that wave. Take note. Theyare the demographics from which our national salvation will arise; hell, it already is happening.
But lest we become complacent, history shows how fickle the American voter can be. We progressives must not quit moving toward those things that will save our country and democracy from the abject corruption, the reprehensible racism, fascism and bigotry that the Republican Party represents.
We must re-take the Senate with a strong majority in 2020. That way, crucial legislation and even a Constitutional amendment or two can be passed that will modernize our elections, our campaign financing and our international relations and economy.
There is much work to be done. Do not disband the activist offices or programs. Keep them going. Keep finding and developing great candidates like Beto O’Rourke, Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum. They all lost this time around, but look at the circumstances that were allowed in order for them to be defeated.
Keep asking people for their votes. Tell them why it’s important. Show them we are sincere and have no corrupt axes to grind. Show them we are telling the truth. If we do these things, the opportunities are endless.
– Denver resident Vern Turner is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Why Angels Weep: America and Donald Trump, is available through Amazon.