Where Do We Go From Here?
Ding, dong the witch is dead; the wicked witch is dead! This is truly a time for celebration and jubilation. All our work for the past four years – but especially in 2020 – has brought us the outcome we so desired. Our calls, text banks, postcard writing, and donations worked. And we can now usher in a new era in American politics as we swear in Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. While Trump throws his tantrums like a child leaving Chuck E Cheese, we know that his court cases will all be thrown out along with the MAGA signs. Now, let’s not celebrate too much for there is still work to be done. We need to examine how we did “down-ticket.” Did we refute Trumpism altogether, or was this only about Trump? There are still two runoff elections that will determine who controls the Senate, and we must stay involved to help get Jon Ossoff and Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock over the finish line in Georgia. And, after all of that, what is our strategy going forward? In other words, where do we go from here?
The first, and most urgent, thing we need to do is to stay involved. Yes, I’m talking to you. The person who was only in this until Trump was gone, I’m speaking to you. Right now. As you may have discovered over the past four years, this country is a “bit of a mess,” and I’m sorry to tell you that Trump wasn’t the only cause, and voting him out isn’t going to fix everything. One of the main reasons we ended up with Trump was because so many people had checked out and just didn’t care to keep their elected officials accountable. Over time, this apathy built up and many voters felt, “Why not take a chance on a reality TV show host – at least he’s not a politician.” If we check out again, even with our new Democratic President, we may be looking at another (but more competent) Trump in the near future.
If I have (as intended) scared you into staying involved, then let me next tell you how to do that. First and foremost, when we get to the New Year, make sure you renew your membership with the Northville Dems. As you already know, we are truly among the best local clubs at grassroots campaigning. Plus, it’s always fun to organize where you live. Next, we have two runoff elections in Georgia that the Democrats must win. Even though we live in Michigan, there is plenty we can do to help our fellow Democrats in Georgia. You may have already seen links on Facebook to join phone banks and write postcards. I implore you to do something and/or send a financial donation to the candidates. Let me remind you who is in charge if we lose – Mitch McConnell. Do you really want all the blood, sweat, and tears we have put forth in ousting Trump and keeping control of the House go to waste? We can have good things. We can have progressive policies. But we just need to jump through one more hoop. Please give our President-Elect Biden the Senate he needs so we can get our democracy back on track.
While I remain hopeful that we can take the Senate, there still needs to be some reflection on why it is coming to this in a time where the other side stood for Trumpism. If you aren’t already aware, while we remain in control of the House, we lost seats, and it raises the possibility of a “flip” in 2022. In Michigan’s State House, we are exactly where we started – gaining net-zero seats. The race for our U.S. Senate seat, and Gary Peters’ re-election, was an unnecessary nail-biter. Senator Peters’ opponent, John James, is one of the worst choices for Senate in my lifetime, yet he almost squeaked out a victory. Where did we go wrong? Here is the problem, the Democrats messaging was off again. I’m currently finishing my business degree and one of the topics my professors stress most is knowing your market. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) thought the anti-Trump Republicans were Democrats now and would vote “D” all the way down the ticket. But this was not the case. Once again, the Democrats don’t know who they are marketing to. Now we have former Republican Governor Kasich on CNN taking credit for Biden’s win and giving us advice on which direction to point our party. Sadly, history suggests the DNC will listen to him, rather than the people in their own party. Governor Kasich is alleging that the “far-left” almost cost President-Elect Biden the election and lost ground in the House, so the Biden Administration should govern much like the Bush Administration. There are multiple flaws with this argument. First, every single House candidate that ran on Medicare for All and other progressive policies won their election. And it wasn’t just “safe districts” either. Katie Porter defended her swing district on these progressive values and won. The only candidates losing are the centrist candidates that stand for nothing. The notion that left wing politics are not popular is truly asinine. In a State that is now a Republican stronghold, Florida citizens voted for a $15 minimum wage. In South Dakota, Arizona, New Jersey, Montana, and Mississippi cannabis propositions were passed to legalize both medical and recreational use. Oregon legalized magic mushrooms and decriminalized small possession of hard drugs. Ask yourself honestly . . . With all of these left-of-center propositions and candidates sweeping their races on Election Day, is it really the Left’s fault that Dems lost ground in the House? They seem to be holding up their end of the deal. It seems that the other side is scared because they know where this party is going and soon, they will be out of a job. Some are trying to adapt rather than perish; take Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for example. In my lifetime he has never even tried to dip his toe in left-wing policies, yet here he is promising a $15 minimum wage, legal cannabis, and a cancellation of student loans if given the Senate. Why the sudden change of heart for the working class? I think he saw what happened to his Democratic colleagues Crowley and Engel and knows what is coming for him in 2022. The “Justice Democrats” and “Our Revolution” will find someone to replace Schumer, and it will stand as an example. “Not only have we taken out candidates that have been elected for decades, now we have taken your Senate leader; adapt or face a primary.” These are the policies of the future and they are the policies we need now. They are winning coast-to-coast and they helped Biden win. Representatives like Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were able to Get Out The Vote in record numbers for their states. Governor Kasich oversaw bringing in the Ohio vote and look where that got us. The time for all of us to be bold is now.
One of the reasons I hear opposition to this plan is that it could come back to haunt us. If the Senate goes back to the Republicans, and we don’t have a filibuster to stop them, then they will get all their bills passed. And, if every President gets to make one Supreme Court appointment, then a Republican President can potentially replace a liberal judge with a conservative one. I understand this concern, but for our next trick, we need to rig the system where it will be close to impossible for Republicans to have control again. If we fast track statehood for both Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., we will have a Democratic stronghold on every branch of government for generations. Both would be shoe in blue states. Right off the bat, Democrats would gain four Senators, additional seats in the House and Electoral College votes from two more states. Even if the Electoral College is abolished, Democrats would win the popular vote in both states. If you add all of this up, along with the states that are now leaning Blue, like Texas, we will not see a Republican President or Congress maybe ever again (one can dream). This would free us up to fight for progressive policies like Medicare for All and criminal justice reform, and no one would be able to stop us. We should be excited about what we did in the past four years. I have personally seen this club do the work to keep Northville blue and make Joe Biden our President-elect. This does not mean the work is done. We must get involved in the Georgia Senate races so that Democrats can control the chamber for the first time since 2014. We must look to the future in our messaging, letting our organizers and progressives lead our party. We cannot be fooled again by trying to win over Republicans who never truly flip. We must stop bending toward the Republican way but sprint the other way. Run as fast and as far away as possible and never look back. The voters will thank us for finally having a spine and standing for something. The main message of where we go from here is to the left. The message to Democratic elected officials is that we want to do this with you, but we can do this without you.
By Christian Alvarado