It’s been a rough month. Trust me, I know; I’ve been avoiding social media, and quite frankly, I wish the whole county could go electronic free for a bit. Yes, a bunch of your staffers lost your jobs a few weeks back. But if you think the past few weeks have been the worst in your life, I urge you to check your privilege. Half of all Americans have no wealth. If Trump takes away their health insurance, they have no safety nets, no social capital, no escape plans to rely on. They are the ones with more to lose. But not the point.
I’ve been reading lately. I read Hillbilly Elegy, I’ve been reading articles from both sides of the aisle, and I’ve been reflecting on the past few weeks. I’ve been observing the twitter accounts of legislators: Democrats and Republicans alike, and here’s what I think:
But first, I want to share a little life lesson down from memory lane. Every time I would complain about failure as a kid, my mother and I would have a discussion. She would point out the areas in which I could have done better and prompt me to focus on improving the next round. If I insisted that the test was unfair or that the game was rigged, she would give me an hour lecture about how “if other people found a way, so can you.” Yes, the Electoral College is outdated, disproportionate, unfair, and frankly needs some reform. But here’s the deal: it’s not why you lost.
Dems do not have the majority in the Senate, and you cannot attribute that to the EC or gerrymandering. Dems also are the minority in many state legislatures, and the GOP has control of most gubernatorial positions. Eliminating the Electoral College will most likely cause a difference in the executive branch of government, but it won’t hit the underlying issue: people are not voting for Democrats.
So why is this so? I’m going to cut to the chase: Dems are no longer the party of the working class.
The GOP has established its values quite thoroughly: family values, religious freedom, small government, more corporate liberties. In areas in which government operates poorly (which is a good amount of the USA), this is particularly appealing. The Democratic party, however, is in shambles. Wall Street money has infiltrated politicians, resulting in public rage and anti-establishment sentiment. Democrats have remained silent when to comes to issues affecting people-of-color, a significant part of their constituency. Where’s the outrage for #BlackLivesMatter and #NoDAPL? Of all my current federal legislators, only Kamala Harris has vocalized frustration by questioning our incarceration system. Evan McMullin, a conservative former presidential candidate, has called out Donald Trump more so than Senator Feinstein.
Even with a minority, the Dems have not mobilized their voters to the extent of the GOP. They need to echo our frustrations and propose solutions (ever wondered why Sanders gained so much popularity in the primaries?). They chose to use the filibuster only once since January 2015, and that was during June 2016, i.e. campaign season. Where was the filibuster when Planned Parenthood faced defunding? Where were you all when voter ID laws disenfranchised a significant portion of your constituency? Even the gun law they were advocating for during the summer was based on racial profiling; its actual impact would be minimal (hence why I semi-agree with Paul Ryan labelling the filibuster as a “publicity stunt”).
A quick look at my Twitter would tell you that I’m left-leaning, and I typically vote for Democrats. But I am not the whole country, and if the Dems want to gain majorities back, they need to start thinking about voter’s mindsets and needs.