Slowly, it’s beginning to dawn on me. The Democrats screwed up. We lost this election by blindly railing against all the hate and prejudice from the other side. And though we were right to challenge the vitriol, we—the supposedly intelligent, enlightened, conscientious, and compassionate side—simply ignored the deep despair at the root of our opponents’ anger and angst. We failed to see their profound sense of helplessness to control their lives and fates. But mostly, we failed to see that our own anger had made us smug.
Now, before all my sister and fellow progressives hang me for treason, consider the words of English comedian and activist Russell Brand. In a recent video, he explains the shared plight of our two countries’ working classes: “People no longer trust the people who say, ‘Hey, we’ll look after you, it’s okay,’ because the people you’re talking to are already living in a post-apocalyptic world….You can’t tell people it will be terrible to have Donald Trump in power if the world they live in is already terrible. They’re not susceptible to that kind of threat.”
“What I think is fascinating,” says Brand, “is someone can say [the things Trump has], and it makes no difference. People still vote for him. How disenchanted, how disillusioned, how disempowered can you be that this seems like a sensible alternative?”
The faults in Donald Trump are too numerous to count. The fears we Democrats feel are decidedly legitimate. But before we start combating the injustices to come, we must do some self-reflecting—as a party and as individuals. For we will lose our future fights if we approach them with chips on our shoulders and an indignant sense of self-righteousness.
We must recenter on our humanity. This is and always has been our strength. The general welfare of the people, our cause. But we need to acknowledge that, right now, the one thing “we the people” want most is economic parity. So, it’s up to Democrats to accept and validate that desire and focus on making it happen. That means we have to listen to the very people who have raised our ire. But it’s the one battle that can bridge our differences.
We must mobilize to pressure the media to stop their incessant, irrelevant chatter and start doing their job—investigative journalism. Where is the coverage, for example, of how the election will benefit the rich and powerful? It’s not enough to list the lobbyists and CEOs Trump is appointing. The media must uncover the injustices and crimes they’ve committed and their costs to society. The media must also stop giving credence to opposite views that espouse blatant lies. We don’t need to hear the opinions of climate-change deniers. Rather, we need to drive home the facts of climate change and the specific dangers it presents—including to our economy.
Bernie Sanders tells us we must organize. I agree, but I don’t believe we can do that solely from within the Democratic party. I believe the people need to either unionize or form their own lobby comparable to the scale and scope of the NRA. We need real leverage where it counts—in the halls of Congress. Protest marches and individual interest groups won’t win the battle. Collective bargaining will.
Brand drives home the one thing progressives need to keep in mind. “The fact that Donald Trump will be president of the United States is sort of not what’s important. What’s important is the conditions have occurred in which Donald Trump becomes. [Those conditions existed] two days ago, a month ago, a year ago, and for the last ten, twenty years. They’ve been building toward this moment. And what it is, is that the political system doesn’t connect with people. People want change. People want to have genuine power….My hope is that we will recognize that we have to provide an alternative….We have to create a world where Donald Trump isn’t necessary.”
A lifelong communicator, I'm pretty sure I came out of the womb talking. But with no siblings to chat and play with, I learned to express myself in writing. My subsequent birth as a politics junkie came while I watched my father, a career Marine, sob uncontrollably over Kennedy's assassination. Intuitively, I knew the world would never be the same, and I should pay attention. So I did.
Now, some 50 years later, I find myself dumbfounded by the trajectory of American politics and the prevalence of ignorance, bigotry, hate, and violence. I started Two Cents of Sense, hoping to help change that trajectory and to promote progressives' conversation, knowledge sharing, and actions.