Following up on yesterday’s piece, we’re continuing our post-election series, asking friends, basically, what now—what can we do to promote positive change in the coming days, months, years. Today’s piece is from Paul Singh, Principal at the bi-coastal creative collective Pel, of which we are part.
I am not a politician or political commentator. I am not an expert on these matters. I am not even a writer.
I am an American who cares deeply for his country and tries his best to pay attention and contribute to the political process.
As someone who believes strongly in progressive policies, this election has left me reeling and I realize that I must come to terms, not just with Trump’s win, but with my own failure to do enough to prevent him from reaching the Presidency.
These are the ten main lessons that I am taking away from this election.
There is no bubble.
I live in New York City and on a daily basis I interact with people of dozens of different ethnic backgrounds, religions and native languages. I interact with immigrants, children of immigrants and red-blooded Americans whose ancestors came here hundreds of years ago. I interact with straight people, gay people and transgendered people. I interact with poor people, rich people and what’s left of the middle class. I interact with tourists from Europe, Asia and everywhere else.
We are all Americans and no one’s experience is more legitimate than another’s. Urban areas are no more a bubble than anywhere else.
Democratic politicians need to speak to rural voters.
Rural America has been decimated over the last several decades and we need to elect candidates who can speak to these voters. Progressive policies would significantly benefit the people in these areas and, in large measure, Republican policies are creating the hardships they face. Our candidates need to communicate this better.
…but not at the expense of minorities, women and LGBT communities.
There is clearly a disconnect between the social outlook of the Left and the Right. In an effort to reach more voters and accomplish the above, we must not sacrifice our policies of inclusion towards all Americans. We have no need for more Blue Dogs.
Don’t blame the poor.
Trump won because of rural America. But it wasn’t poor rural America. Exit polls show that Trump won the majority of voters who earn over $50k per year and Clinton won those who make less. Trump won the Republican base just like any Republican candidate before him. That’s it.
We didn’t vote.
So if there was no Trump surge? Why did Clinton lose?
Democrats lost because we didn’t show up to vote. That’s the ultimate takeaway.
If this is because Bernie supporters didn’t want to vote for Hillary, then shame on them. The strength of the Republicans is that ultimately they tend to come together — even when the candidate is overtly racist, misogynistic and xenophobic.
We must find ways to energize and select the most progressive candidates during the primary. And then we must get excited and fight for the candidate we select because the alternative is much worse.
Electoral college has to go.
Of course, Hillary Clinton did win.
When all the votes are in, Clinton will win the popular vote by approximately 2 million votes. More Americans want her to be President but because of the archaic Electoral College, which disproportionately rewards smaller states, Trump will be President. With over 120 million votes cast in this election, if less than 54,000 voters in 3 states had voted for Hillary instead of Trump, she would be our President.
The last two Republican Presidents lost the popular vote and will have come into power despite the fact that fewer Americans voted for them than the Democratic candidate (George W. Bush won the popular vote only in his second term).
If all Americans are equal, then there is little justification for the electoral college. Amending the Constitution is a daunting task that will likely never happen because it would require the vote of smaller states and they will not want to lose power. But there is an alternative approach called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and it’s gaining momentum. Essentially, if enough states pledge to give all their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote (rather than the winner of their state) then the Electoral College is effectively abolished. Currently, states representing 165 EC votes (out of the necessary 270) have already made this pledge and bills are currently being debated in Michigan and Pennsylvania. I need to research and support this initiative more and would encourage you to do the same.
Supreme Court is not doomed. But it’s up to us.
One of the scariest aspects of a Trump Presidency is the potential impact on the Supreme Court which could last for decades. Because of Republican recalcitrance and their refusal to vote for Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland, Trump will fill the current vacancy. Since the appointee will replace Antonin Scalia, who was a stalwart conservative, the new Justice won’t shift the balance of the Court.
If there are no further vacancies in the next two years, Democrats will have an opportunity to once again take back the Senate, and possibly even the House of Representatives (if we are smart about redistricting), thereby assuming the Congressional power needed to block any new Trump appointments. This only happens if we come out and vote in the 2018 mid-term elections.
We must root for Trump. But must not forgive.
We have to do all we can to help President Trump succeed. As one person put it, the opposite would be to wish that a pilot you dislike fails when you are on the plane. That doesn’t mean we have to accept and normalize the hateful manner of his campaign. We have to hold him accountable (as well as the politicians who supported him). We must be the resistance.
Silver lining? Infrastructure.
Infrastructure improvement was one of the only substantive agendas Trump mentioned in his victory speech. Progressives have pushed for more investment here for decades but the GOP has allowed little progress. Obama has had some success but not nearly enough. Perhaps with a Republican President, Congress will now allow these bills to pass, which will ultimately benefit the country and the economy, while creating new jobs.
Silver lining? Obamacare.
The Affordable Care Act was a monumental first step in the fight for universal health care but it does suffer from many issues. Trump has started walking back promises to gut the act completely and has mentioned he wants to keep provisions which require insurance companies to offer coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions and allow young Americans to stay on their parents’ policies until they reach 25 years of age. In order to guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions, providers need to bring healthy members into the plan, which is currently accomplished by mandating that everyone purchase insurance. Otherwise the system would require huge premium increases or risk insolvency.
Maybe the GOP will see an opportunity here to make some necessary modifications while keeping the basic system in place. They can then claim victory and the “new” plan as their own. A loss perhaps for Obama’s legacy but ultimately beneficial for us all.
More likely, I’m being rather naive and the GOP will use the opportunity to privatize and destroy Medicare.
Organize. Make a plan!
We must channel the anger and frustration we feel now into sustained action. It’s not enough to make some donations and post in the Facebook echo-chamber (I’m guilty on all counts). We must make a plan on how we will contribute in the long-term.
Personally, I’m starting by organizing seasonal fundraisers, looking for volunteer opportunities with some key organizations and researching how to get involved with the effort to eliminate the Electoral College via the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact mentioned above. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.
Some organizations I recommend include ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, Everytown for Gun Safety, Muslim Community Network and The Sikh Coalition.