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Democrats—Please Don't Blow It

One the one hand, I’m ecstatic. Not only did the Democrats regain the House, but the Democratic candidate in my district, for whom I campaigned, appears to have won a tight race over his 30 year incumbent Republican opponent. And I live in one of the reddest districts in California. But I’m dismayed by the loss of Senate seats and key governor’s races (even though Democrats won more govenorships than they lost). What it means to me is that a significant portion of our citizens still support the pugnacious, anti-immigrant, white-oriented, gun-oriented message of our president. Looking at a map, the divides between north and south and urban and rural have gotten even deeper. Clearly, there are large groups of Americans who don’t share a consensual worldview. Different things are important to each group, and what is true is different for them also. It’s a split that has been growing, and this election shows that it is not narrowing.

Democrats won’t rule Washington. They only control half of congress and the president has vast powers that he can use without their consent. What they do have is an opportunity to show the country what their vision is, what their priorities are, and how they operate when they have gained at least some power. They can easily screw things up. I remember the Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid years under President Obama. Democrats reveled in their control of both houses and made no attempt to construct bipartisan objectives that would enlist the cooperation of their opponents. Admittedly, Republican leaders at the time, such as Mitch McConnell and Tea Party congressmen, vowed to oppose everything Obama put forward, just to make his presidency unsuccessful, but the Democrats in congress used their power to further the distance between them and the Republicans and to drive a wedge between people. 

Most analysts say that the Democrats won the House because of anti-Trump sentiment that has extended now into traditionally Republican suburbia (e.g. my district), and some former Republican strongholds, such as much of Texas. We’ll see how much it reflects increasing participation by young voters and ethnic minority voters when the full results are analyzed. The hopes and aspirations of the latter groups can form the basis for a party platform that is positive and inclusive and strives to reduce the inequality that characterizes our country and, in many instances, falls along ethnic lines. Every young person who wants his or her gay friend to be treated with respect and equality, who wants women to be respected, who would like to enter adulthood in a country that takes care of its infrastructure and protects its environment, should find a resonant voice in the Democrats’ message. Every immigrant who came as a relative or has the dream of bringing his or her aging parents, or struggling sister or brother to the United States to share in the dream he or she is achieving here, should hear such yearnings echoed in protections of our immigration system, which has always had the aim of uniting families as well as increasing our country’s productivity by adding talented people. In almost every case, the children of immigrants outperform their parents in educational attainment and income. They better themselves by being in America. That’s not a system we want to throw away. And finally, those Americans who are living marginally in terms of job and income, who are sick or disabled and frightened of losing their healthcare—or never had enough of it to meet their needs—need to hear that the Democrats are aware of their plight and are going to address their needs and protect them.

What we don’t need from Democrats is a platform that has as its central plank, the vilification of Donald Trump, which seeks every means possible to harass the president and try to impeach him. Speeches proclaiming that the president is a racist are not nearly as helpful as ones that address the evils of racism in our country by proposing justice and educational reforms. Insuring women’s rights through equal pay and healthcare protection is more important than accusing the president of sexism and misogyny.

FOX News stokes the flames of rabid Republican anger, fueled by the president’s toxic messages. I would love to see CNN stop doing the same on the other side. The way to do that is to have political leaders who have constructive, not destructive, things to say to the media and can take center stage. The Democrats, now that they control the House, will have the stage, and it is up to them to use it constructively. Our country needs to come together, not fracture further apart, and this is an opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted.

Reader Comments (5)

Amazing how our unique lens of perception colors our memories...While Casey recalls..."I remember the Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid years under President Obama. Democrats reveled in their control of both houses and made no attempt to construct bipartisan objectives that would enlist the cooperation of their opponents. " I remember endless war, the bailout of the rrich at the expense of the 99%, increasing mass incarceration, no universal health care, no increase in minimum wages, a blind eye to monopolization and much more as the fall-out of the control of both houses and the Presidency in the first two years of the Obama Democratic Party regime.

Remember it all happening in a "spirit of compromise?" I imagine it was a compromise...not between Dems and Repubs but between the moneyed elites that control congress. It's a good time to review Gilens-Page Princeton study and Gene Sharp's From Dictatorship to Democracy....for in reality my fear is that almost nothing has changed by the election Nov 6

We will know soon. I like Casey would like to believe the Dems will self-reform...kick out Pelosi, advocate for the people over partisan power and their elites...but the history of our country doesn't indicate that things work like that without a strong mass movement(s) of the people to coerce change. Voting rights for racial groups, womes rights, labor rights and even the American Republic itself arose through strong people power movements...not the largesse of the elites nor their political parties.

November 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDariel Garner

Casey, I agree with almost everything you say. But for today, I want to narrow the focus to the CA-48. In the weeks leading up to the election, I had no fewer than SIX teams knock on my door in support of Harley Rouda, not to mention email, text, and telephone contacts. The fact that Rouda won over Rohrabacher tells me that grass-roots activism works. Democracy works. Change is possible. That is the biggest takeaway from Tuesday's election. Government of the People, by the People, for the People is alive and well -- IF we are willing to do the work.

November 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterC.W. Spooner

",,,the pugnacious, anti-immigrant, white-oriented, gun-oriented message of our president." Certainly you're entitled to your opinion, but the president's message is really "America-first nationalism, anti illegal-immigration, less regulation and pro-second amendment." To say the president is "white-oriented" is to succumb to the MSM conspiracy theory about imaginary dog whistles regarding white nationalism. You're trying to hunt a monster that exists solely as a function of the leftist and leftist media's desirous need to see every element of society in terms of race or some other form of tribalism. I really think that only people who harbor hidden racism or soft bigotry would actually attempt to evaluate the world in those terms. Ultimately, there are no groups, just individuals with their unique thoughts and experiences and ideas that have actual purpose and value.

Women in the US have had equal pay to men since the 1970's. Thomas Sowell clearly showed this decades ago when he did his research and analysis regarding never married women without children who stayed in the work force. Even then, women were getting equal pay for equal work and equal commitment. It's really a meritless argument to say that there is some sort of gender wage gap. In many fields women earn significantly more than men for doing the same work. But yes, if you add up all the money that men make versus all the money that women make and divide the men's total by the number of men and the women's total by the number of women, you will in fact find a gender EARNINGS gap, which is an entirely irrelevant figure. That disparity doesn't figure in at least twenty variables with regard to career and lifestyle choices that women make which influences that gross income difference. Basically, at this point in the world of economics, if you're arguing for an end to the gender wage gap, you''re essentially arguing for women to get paid for work they didn't actually do. That is a fairly unwinnable argument.

I'm wondering where you've gotten the idea that Fox News has an ability to stoke "anger" in anyone? I furthermore wonder where you've obtained evidence that the President actually speaks in a "toxic" manner? Those are subjective terms and involve value judgements that have no empirical evidence to support them. Don't you see that by ascribing these adjectives to a peron's or entity's speech, you're attempting to disenfranchise that speech while making a moral judgement as to that person's or collective's civil worth? You're actually unwittingly hypocritically undermining your own argument calling for constructive behavior when you're in fact engaging in behavior of the exact opposite. I think it must be very difficult to tread in that world of cognitive dissonance. That being said, I don't doubt that you're genuinely concerned with helping people and the country as a whole. I just think you're going about it the wrong way. It's ineffective to say "Here is a group of people who look a certain way and thus, this is the way in which they need help." That doesn't work. Ever. People need to be considered individually and given the help they require based on their individual, not collective, circumstances and needs. That is the essence of being truly helpful and truly engaged.

November 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMsrk Wheeler

Casey for President: Casey for Congressman; Casey for Spokesperson of the DMC; Casey for the Conscience of the Country - Huzzah!

November 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPJ Colando

Let me talk in subjective, emotional, and biased terms right now. I am utterly disgusted with America. There should have been a blue wave. To doubt Trump's toxicity is to doubt the vitriol of this post. As a writer, words are everything to me. Words are more important than actions. Words move nations to its higher or lower self. We have chosen our lower self and there's no indication it's going to stop in 2020. I turned on to approximately 3 minutes of Trump's conference today and was sick. if anyone can't see what is the matter with this man, this whole experiment of democracy is lost. The time for placating is over. The time for compromise is over. The only solace I can take as Trump becomes emboldened is from Maya Angelo's Poem "Still I Rise" https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/still-i-rise

November 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBillie Kelpin

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