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The way forward

by Eric Ferguson on November 14, 2016 · 2 comments

We’ve had a few days to grieve. I know the process doesn’t end just like that, on a schedule. People we know, in our community, in our circle of friends, maybe us, are going to be directly harmed in the dark days to come. The deplorables are feeling free to indulge their prejudices. Before moping any further, remember the anecdotes of non-white and non-Christian children already being bullied in school, women being accosted in public by strange men who think trump rules apply everywhere, DREAMers whose legal status can be revoked in an instant once Trump can revoke Obama’s executive orders. People are about to lose their access to health care when Obamacare is repealed. They’re about to lose protection from the depredations of the big banks when financial reform is repealed. People are going to lose their voting rights, abortion rights, their right to organize and bargain collectively when hard-won rights come under unrestrained Republican attack.


People on the downside of life need us to be strong. Time to snap out of our melancholy and get moving.


And be aware there are bright spots, and there is a way forward.


Never forget, or let anyone else forget, that Hillary Clinton won. The loser gets to assume the presidency, but in terms of who got the most votes, which is what should count, we won — and we didn’t just beat Trump. We also took on the malpracticing mainstream media, a partisan FBI, the Russian government and it’s puppets at Wikileaks, and we beat them. The electoral college, this archaic election system, was one more opponent than we could beat. But we still got more votes, and that needs to be repeated until this bigoted fraudster is gone: he’s the loser. Hillary won.


Also keep this mind before despairing, and let the GOP despair for the future: once again, young adults were heavily Democratic, which has been the case several elections in row. The 18-year-olds who started going heavily Democratic in 2004 are only just now reaching 30, roughly the age where they start voting with regularity. Hispanics and Asians punch below their weight in turnout, but that’s unlikely to last forever and their numbers are rising. The fastest growing religious group is the “nones”, and they are heavily Democratic. Republicans are exultant now, but they’re also on a clock, with an utter fool as a leader. Look at the coming dysfunctional administration as entertainment, because otherwise it will be tragedy, and be glad we aren’t stuck with one of the Republicans who might have been effective at doing awful things.


Also don’t forget that in 2018, we get to be the non-presidential party in a midterm election.
The way forward is clear only if we cease to moan and instead think through the problems. Since we aren’t going to win the short term fights, we get to think long-term. We can be guided by those famous last words of Joe Hill, “Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!”


We have to undo gerrymandering, and Democrats can make progress on that already next year. Yes, next year. Some states have state elections in odd-numbered years, and will elect governors and upper house legislators who still be in office when redistricting is done. We don’t need to control a whole state to block gerrymandering. We just need to control one of the choke points each state has in its process. Tell Democrats you know in those states to get active now because whether they win those offices in their state affects all of us. In 2018, Minnesota elects the governor who will be in office for the next redistricting. We have to win.


But before turning your attention to 2018 though, remember that we have local elections next year, where Republicans normally dominate because they turn out and we don’t. They work on putting Republicans in local office and we don’t — usually. The DFL has gotten better about that in recent years. We have to think strategically which in this case means pursuing wins that improve our odds of getting more wins — in other words, next year, win elections that increase our bench of candidates for higher office, and deny that bench to Republicans. We have to use the local elections as a vehicle to organize. Do the organizing work that will pay off in 2018, and 2020, and … you get the picture.


And repeat that Trump lost. Yes, I know I said that, but it bears repeating. “Loser.” There is something delegitimizing about a system where whoever comes in second wins. Republicans undermined the Obama presidency and Hillary candidacy with lies. We can undermine the Trump presidency with truth. He lost, and quite conveniently, Republicans have spent decades telling people our government is bad and our elections are a fraud, so people are primed for the message that something is fundamentally broken when Hillary won the election but Trump sits in the office, where one party gets the votes but the other gets the seats; not every election, but already twice in five presidential elections in this century and a number of times for both houses of Congress and state legislatures. No longer just a mathematical possibility, the is now a regular occurrence. This is not a formula for functional democracy, and since most people think democracy is a good idea, it’s something we can’t let them forget.


One last point. Organizing isn’t just about getting someone to come to the next doorknock. It’s about getting someone to find their inner Democrat, to realize they agree with us, to accept that they have to do more than occasionally pay attention and spend a few minutes voting every couple years. When we ask them to come help with one specific event, that’s actually the culmination of earlier work, and that’s what we need to do to keep Minnesota blue. Go become a precinct chair since the odds are your local DFL has openings. Join your local DFL’s social media. Share or retweet and turn that into actually talking to people. Get someone to come to a caucus or a fundraiser, and then ask them to do one more thing.


You occasionally comment here? Great, you already have an account. This is a community blog, and you have something to say. Start writing. You listen to your local liberal radio station? Start patronizing the sponsors. If you already do checkbook activism, then start volunteering. Don’t think anything is being accomplished if you just vote, but with great enthusiasm. The enthusiastic vote and the unenthusiastic count the same. We win not just by voting, but by getting other people to vote.


We ultimately win elections by talking to people. Whatever you’re doing now, do one more thing. You’re stronger than you think.
From Mac Hall: Good, uplifting post … yet, may I offer a couple caveats ?
Eight years ago America heard the President-Elect say, “Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won.” Yeah, it is true that Clinton won the popular vote, just like Gore did, but the consequences of the Bush elections are still being felt today (from the “reform” of tax policy to the PTSD/suicides related to the Iraq war.)
Saying “Clinton won” is not what I would recommend, but instead start asking the Reagan question : Are you better off now under President Trump ? Then follow it up with : Did the Trump tax cuts change your family fortune like they did his ? Did the ObamaCare repeal produce lower prescription drug prices and lower insurance costs ? Did “tearing up NAFTA” bring jobs back to America ? IMO, we have no idea what scandal will befall the Trump Administration and what in-fighting there will be, or the number of Administration turnovers there will be … but feel confident that they will happen. Yet, those things like “the wall” and “extreme vetting” do not have the impact on day-to-day family life — thus the focus should be on “your finances”.
Second, the hope for young voters hearing their “inner Democrat” may be a challenge. I scoffed at the way some were interpreting Steve Simon’s MN school mock presidential vote as a reflection of how Minnesota would vote … but maybe they were correct. The mock election results showed strong support for Trump in rural and charter schools suggesting that parents had influenced their children and as students vote, so would their parents. The results also indicated that some city schools did not participate … hmmm … do you see a pattern ?
IMO, a Trump Minnesota victory did not happen because of Terri Bonoff. First, let’s look at the First District … Tim Walz barely beat Jim Hagedorn in a repeat match where Hagedorn got zero RNCC support. The concern here is that Walz has steadily seen a denigration of support from rural counties. It was not that long ago that Walz won every county … now, he is dependent upon winning Rochester and Mankato. Take Brown County (New Ulm, neighboring Mankato) where Hagedorn won in 2014 4870 to 4423 — okay, a non-Presidential year where MNGOP typically does well. But this year, Hagedorn won 8182 to 5376. Yeah, a lot more people voted … and they sided with Hagedorn — big time. Here’s the challenge for Walz, once you lost voters — once they have agreed to fire you– how do you win them back ?
Actually, it wasn’t only the First District that should be a concern … Trump won the Second and Eighth also … these were won by Obama in 2012. So, with Trump winning three districts that Obama had won before, why didn’t he win the state ? Simple answer … Terri Bonoff. The Third went for Clinton … and in a “bigly” fashion. While Obama edged Romney by about 4,000 votes, Clinton won by more than 37,000 even though less people voted. Bonoff created a high profile election … making people want to vote. Now, what would have happened if Jon Tollefson was the challenger … would the DNCC and House Majority PAC spent any money … thus would the turnout have been less ?
Trump was not a great candidate … but if you presume that every McMullin voter was a likely Republican voter, Trump would have won Minnesota … plus the Libertarian Party garnered an increase in support. Sorry, but I see a trend.
2018 will be a different year. Klobuchar should be on the ballot … and Lewis will have two years collecting checks in Washington while Peterson and Nolan will both be 74 — will they want another two years flying back and forth to sit in President Trump/Pence minority opposition ? Walz will get another challenge … but this time, expect Norm Coleman and the RNCC to target him. The MNGOP will be laser focused on the gubernatorial contest.
The way forward is based on the candidates … and how they focus on getting elected. For years, I have heard of the great door-knocking programs yet on Election Day, the DFL comes up short. I attribute Hagedorn’s success to repeated visits to all parts of the district and an effective social media outreach program during which he was able to bash Obama and Walz. Well, this time Democrats can bash Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress … plus asking what the MNGOP-controlled legislature would do with a Republican governor in place.

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