Sunday, November 11, 2018

After the Elections: Moving Forward

Not bad. Could have been a little better, and will be if Florida and/or Georgia recounts change those races, but overall, a good result on Tuesday.

And yet, when all is counted, it looks like maybe 48% of eligible voters went to the polls. That's terrible. Here we are, the world's greatest democracy and we can't even muster a majority of voters exercising their precious right. I honestly have no patience for people who complain or say they want to make this country better, or are seriously upset at the people who are already serving in office, yet do not bother to register, vote and make their voices heard. It's our duty and our responsibility as citizens.

Moving on.

Democrats garnered more overall votes for both the House and Senate races nationally, which is good news for the party and the country. Midterm elections have traditionally been excuses for the left to be ignorant and stay home while the angry right takes over the Congress and statehouses. I hope this happens no more. And I also hope that, especially in New Jersey, these same voters come out next year when we elect the state legislature and senate, offices that have far more power over our day-to-day existence than federal representatives and senators. Traditionally, only about 25% of voters turn out for those elections. Then they have the temerity to complain about property taxes, school funding, the state of the beaches, and transportation. Again; no patience.

There was a great deal of discussion about what this past election means. There were a number of Democratic Socialists and other far left candidates who won elections, but the real story is that the party is (and must) moving towards the center. This is how the process usually works. The American people are not ready to support Medicare for all or free college tuition or a more liberal immigration policy.


These ideas will eventually become part of mainstream discussion in the same way that far right policies that seemed fringe 30 years ago have now become mainstream, such as anti-environmental and pro-business deregulation, and tax cuts that funneled billion of dollars to those who were already wealthy.

But for now, Democrats have to return to the issues that they have traditionally championed; a fairer tax system, being more responsive to the middle and working classes, affordable health care and housing, protecting the rights of all people to vote, to gain a livable wage, and to protect children from exploitation and poverty, not to mention a fairer immigration system. If the Democrats focus on these issues, which most exit polls said were voters' key concerns, then the party can regain voters who defected to the Republicans in 2016 and build a base of support for future national and state elections.

The party also needs to stay away from talk of impeachment or appearing to be burying the administration under a blizzard of subpoenas in order to satisfy the far left flank that sees the president as illegitimate. Make sure that any actions are defensible, reasonable, pointed, and specific. Fight fire with fire, not a flamethrower. Present an argument for people who should be voting for Democrats to do so. Getting caught up in the minute-to-minute rantings of the president will not show the broader population that it is a party that will get things they want done.

Even with Congressional majorities and the White House, the Republicans were still only able to pass one major piece of legislation, which was a tax cut that didn't help them a bit on election day, and neither did an economy that continues to create jobs. That's extraordinary and it demonstrates the extent to which the president's rantings have muddied, diluted, and just plain blocked what should have been a winning issue. Democrats can build a better tax cut and an economic program that helps the majority of Americans who earn a paycheck but are still struggling.

Let's rebuild the trust with the American people, fight the groups that espouse hatred and bile, and show that we can truly be a model for the rest of the world.

It starts now.

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