By: Lessa Leigh
It’s almost the Ides of March, and as tempting a thought as it may be to imagine Donald Trump surrounded by Senators stabbing him, we’re not going to see the scene and he’s not going to say the words, “Et tu, Mitch?” More importantly, even if we did have some political coup that divested President Trump from America, the chances of a new reign being tangibly better are next to nil. The odds are not only unfavorable because the GOP is ruling from an extremist position of ultimate power but also because the Democrats are a hot mess.
It’s five months post election. We should not still have Hillary supporters whining that “Bernie Bros” were mean to them. We should not have Progressives, who either supported Hillary Clinton on November 8th because of their state’s electoral standing or voted for Jill Stein out of desire to send a message or who didn’t vote at all, being made to feel that their actions are why Mrs. Clinton lost the Presidency. It’s time that the Democrats had a serious discussion about the direction the party needs to take in order to be sustainable and grow toward the future. For too long, the Democrats have chased the Republicans in a slide ever farther to the right, until we came to a point in our history where a man like Donald Trump could be considered an intelligent and honest choice to lead our country.
I was talking to a friend today over coffee. She lives in rural western Ohio. I live in Cincinnati. Our discussion reminisced about how many Obama signs were in yards in 2012 compared to how few Clinton signs were up in 2016. I mentioned that I refused to give any money to the DNC in 2016 and did nothing more than vote for Hillary Clinton because of Ohio’s importance as a swing state, even though I’m generally all about the “retail” politics of door knocking and phone banking. She said, “They didn’t deserve your money. The DNC has plenty of money.” I agreed, and I pointed out that Bernie Sanders ran a grassroots campaign similar to Barack Obama’s in 2008, where he got regular, average voters excited about his message. No one was excited about Hillary’s message, though in retrospect, we can clearly state that she would have been a far better steward for our country, if the past two months are any example of what Trumpland is like.
My point is that Democrats need to take a leap of faith. They need to embrace those from Gen X and Millennial groups. They need to advocate for people on a fundamental level. They need to re-brand and re-message. They need to play offense, not defense. They need to get down and low and dirty; not “dirty” in the scandalous sense, but dirty as in go to all the places where people are, even if those places aren’t filled with wealthy donors or identity political voters.
As I type, a neighborhood in eastern Cincinnati, Walnut Hills, just became a food desert. It’s a neighborhood of mostly lower-income, brown people, but the Kroger there had been a life-saver for many. Kroger, which is headquartered here in Cincinnati and is highly profitable, couldn’t be bothered to keep what they called a “failing” store in a neighborhood that was desperate for service. I don’t see any local politicians, Democrat or Republican, pushing to change this situation or calling out Kroger for unnecessary corporate greed in their own home-town. The only group I’ve seen actively organizing around this is Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati. It’s just another example of how grassroots groups are getting the job done, while politicians chase each other around for big donor money.
We lost. We need to get over it. We need to dig in and focus very hard on today, tomorrow, and 2018. There’s a good chance that 2018 may not go our way, and if that’s the case, we will most likely have eight years of a Trump Presidency. If we survive it.
No, I’m not joking. We may not survive this, and sitting around arguing about “Bernie Bros” and how Hillary was robbed will not save us. In fact, doing so is the epitome of privilege and arrogance. Resistance is a large part of the strategy, but we must also have a vision to offer that shows why resisting is better than just going along and seeing what happens. That vision is non-existent. We lost. Get over it.